An early image of ice skaters in Central Park

The building of Central Park began in 1858. Later that year, the first section opened to the public: the “skating pond,” aka the Lake.

You’ve probably seen paintings and illustrations of 19th century New Yorkers ice skating in Central Park and on the ponds of Brooklyn. But this Currier & Ives lithograph (after a painting by Charles Parsons) might be the earliest.

In “Central-Park Winter, the Skating Pond,” it’s 1862, the middle of the Civil War. Yet the frozen pond is a scene of pure joy: couples in fancy skating outfits (yep, they were a thing) glided together, a rare opportunity for socially acceptable coed mingling.

Kids play, adults fall, a dog is getting in on the fun, and everyone is enthralled by the magic of the ice under Bow Bridge.

[Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art]

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8 Responses to “An early image of ice skaters in Central Park”

  1. DiosRaw Says:

  2. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    It’s amazing that the Bow Bridge is still grasping Central Park together after all these years. Was lovely then and is more beautiful even now.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I like the way you put that Mick, “grasping Central Park together.”

      • Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

        In my time there there was the sexy but dangerous dark Ramble which you had to be a nut to walk through in the night, and the rest of peaceful genteel Central Park. I miss those dark days…

  3. petey Says:

    So many little dramas in there!

  4. ironrailsironweights Says:

    Nine years after this scene the world’s worst ice skating disaster took place at Regent’s Park in London. In an unusual cold snap the park’s lake froze over, something that’s almost never happened since, and hundreds of people were out skating on the ice when it suddenly gave way. As many as 250 people fell into the water, and while most were close enough to shore to make their way out 40 people drowned.


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