Sledding and Ice Skating in Central Park, 1935

Historical Context
Ice skating began in Central Park when a portion of an unfinished lake was flooded and froze in December 1858.  Ice skating in the park became enormously popular and led to the development of skating clubs for the wealthy throughout the city.  Skating on Central Park Lake became the exercise for people who were not wealthy.
Essential Question
How does the existence of leisure time influence culture and economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how the existence of leisure time changed the American culture and economy.
[click to enlarge]
Skating on Pond, Central Park, New York City, New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_Dn_ND5
Document Description
Ice skating and sledding in New York City’s Central Park, 1935.
  1. What two recreational activities are people doing in the park? 
  2. What time of day is it, and how do you know?
  3. How are these activities the same or different today?
  4. What landforms are in this picture?
Historical Challenge
Draw a picture of what ice skates looked like in the early 1900s.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: How cold does it have to be for water to freeze into ice? Is there a difference between standing water and moving water?
English Language Arts: Create a magazine article describing ice skating, the new sports craze.
Art: Create a poster that informs the public about the safety issues of walking or skating on a frozen body of water.
  1. Rosenzweig, Roy and Elizabeth Blackmar. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992. ISBN: 0801497515
  2. Melmed, Laura Krauss. New York, New York!: The Big Apple from A to Z. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. ISBN: 0060548746, 0060548762
  3. Jennings, Peter, Jennifer Armstrong, Todd Brewster, and Katherine Bourbeau. The Century for Young People. New York: Random House, 1999. ISBN: 0385327080
  4. McGovern, Ann. If You Lived 100 Years Ago. New York: Scholastic, 1999. ISBN: 0590960016