Central Park – A Winter Oasis of Sleighing and Skating in 1863
New York City received its first significant snowfall this winter on January 7, 2016 with about 6 inches of snow covering Manhattan. That day and the next, Central Park had children sleighing down its various hills. Ice skating was available for all at Wollman Rink.
Would anyone today recognize Central Park 154 years ago with similar activity?
Reproduced here for the first time since it appeared in the January 30, 1864 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, is this fantastic woodcut Illustration of Central Park. Unfortunately there is no artist attribution.
At first glance you would think this rural scene is not even in New York City, but the telltale signs are evident that this is indeed Central Park.
In the distant background, buildings can be seen. In the foreground is a proverbial one horse open sleigh. Other sleighs race past one another as their riders are covered in warm blankets and animal skins. One sleigh is named, the “Snow Bird.”
If you look carefully on the right you can see a familiar Central Park balustrade that onlookers are leaning against and taking in all the action. Skaters glide across the frozen lake which begs the question: if you did not own ice skates, where could you get them from?
There was a structure called the “skating tent” in the southern portion of Central Park that rented out skates. Continue reading