Old New York In Photos #135 – Curling In Central Park

Curling, “The Roarin’ Game” At Central Park 1894

Curling in Central Park 1894 photo – Joseph Byron later published by Detroit Publishing  

It may not be the most popular sport but curling may get the most television airtime during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

With rules that perplex many viewers, players slide 42 pound granite stones down a sheet of ice while screaming at teammates sweeping with brooms.

Curling has been around since the 1500’s. Scotch immigrants brought curling over to the United States and Canada, nicknaming it “The Roarin Game.” In the twenty-first century curling still has many devotees in northern regions of the world.

Turn-of-the-Century New York Curling

The Grand National Curling Club was promoting the sport at the turn-of-the-century in New York. And there were hundreds of curlers participating.

According to a 1902 New York Times article, curling matches were primarily held in Hoboken, NJ at an indoor facility and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. There had been a space on the lake at Central Park set aside for curling. But ice conditions were good enough for only a few days during the winter and this space was later abandoned.

An 1898 article in the New York Tribune tells of traditional curling songs that the participants would sing at the beginning of a game.

White winter on lik hill and plain
In a’ powers unfurling
And giving Scotia’s sons again
Their favorite game of curling

120 years later the circumference of stones is unchanged and no stone is wider than 36 inches. But In international play stones weigh anywhere from 38 to 44 pounds. That wasn’t the case in 1900. The stone’s weight could vary from thirty to fifty pounds.

One thing remaining the same over time, and this might account for the appeal of curling, is good sportsmanship. The players do not taunt one another or blatantly celebrate victory or cheer an opponent’s mistakes.

Isn’t that something we could use more of in al sporting contests?

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