Posts Tagged ‘Ice skating in New York City’

The magic of indoor ice skating on the East Side

March 5, 2018

In the 1860s, New Yorkers were crazy about ice skating, and there were plenty of daytime and moonlit places to hit the ice, including Central Park and Union and Washington Ponds in Brooklyn.

But to experience the enchantment of (temperature controlled) indoor ice skating, city residents laced up their skates and donned skating costumes at the Empire City Skating Rink, which spanned 62nd and 63rd Streets between Third and Second Avenues.

It must have been quite an experience gliding around this football stadium-size rink. “Skaters exclaim, ‘how do they do it? Is not this splendid music and illumination?'” stated ads for the rink, which invited visitors to come see “the splendid sheet of ice like a mirror with thousands skating on it.”

Before winter 2018 ends, consider what New Yorkers did for amusement in 1868 and see the Museum of the City of New York’s “New York on Ice” exhibit, which runs through April 15.

[Top image: MCNY 29.100.1544; second image: New York Herald 1870]

Skating on the Central Park Lake under twilight

October 18, 2014

It’s almost that time of year again—just not in Central Park anymore. Painter Saul Kovner’s twilight scene on the Lake casts an enchanting glow on Depression-era skaters.

Skatingincentralpark1934kovner

Before you get any ideas, keep in mind that skating on the Lake was officially banned in 1950! Kovner painted other winter scenes in New York as well, like this one of a snow day in Tompkins Square Park.

New York City’s roller skating fad of 1884

February 24, 2010

Ice skating had already swept the city in the mid-1800s. But a few decades later, city residents took up a new recreational craze: skates on wheels.

They skated in newly built roller rinks, like the Cosmpolitan on Broadway in midtown, as well as on the street—as this 1893 illustration of girls skating on Park Avenue shows.

“Throughout the eighteen-eighties and much of the nineties roller skating was the principal pastime of citizens of every age and condition—business men went to work on skates, and skating parties were much in vogue among the fashionable,” writes Herbert Asbury in his 1929 book All Around the Town.

But it wasn’t just fun—some New Yorkers thought skates could fight crime.

“Several leading citizens and public officials seriously advocated equipping the police force with roller-skates, contending that a patrolman could then easily overtake a criminal,” Asbury states.