100 years ago, speed skating was king of Chicago sports

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The Silver Skates competition from an unknown year. About 30,000 saw Arthur Staff win the inaugural Chicago Tribune-sponsored Silver Skates tournament at Humboldt Park lagoon in January 1917. (Chicago Park District Special Collections / via DNAinfo)

CHICAGO — Imagine tens of thousands of fans watching speed skating on a frozen Humboldt Park lagoon.

One hundred years ago, that vision was a reality.

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It’s been a century since the first Silver Skates competition took place in January 1917 on the frozen lagoon. Upward of 30,000 spectators attended the event, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

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