Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : Water in Chicago
Essay: People and the Port
Photo Essays:
Solitary Lives
City of Bridges
Chicago Harbors
Essay: Using the Chicago River
Photo Essays:
Goose Island
Indiana Dunes
Essay: Sanitation in Chicago
Photo Essays:
The Sanitary and Ship Canal
Water-Related Epidemics
Essay: Water and Urban Life
Photo Essays:
Houses and Water
Shoreline Development
Growing Up Along Water
Growing up along the Water

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Ice Skating

Children did not turn their backs on Chicago’s water even during cold winters. In fact, skating was a popular activity in Chicago from the 1830s forward. On the Chicago River during winters in the 1830s and 1840s, skating and horse racing on the river replaced commerce. On Sundays, vigorous young people and adults, lined the banks of the river to watch races or skated in their own winter wonderland. Skaters also took advantage of the many other rivers, streams, and lakes in the region during nineteenth-century winters. By the early twentieth century, skating had begun to move to lagoons and flooded fields in the parks and playgrounds both in the city and in suburbs, where children skated in a more supervised setting. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, indoor ice skating rinks made their appearance, blurring the line between winter and summer sports much as indoor pools did earlier in the century.

Ice Skating, Humboldt Park, 1903

The lagoons in parks across Chicago, which were used for wading in the summer, were put to yearround use with skating. Children skate and play hockey in this view of the frozen Humboldt Park lagoon in 1903.

See also: Humboldt Park; Skating (Ice); Leisure

Speed Skating, Humboldt Park, 1902

While most of the lagoons were used for free skating, races were also popular among youths through much of the twentieth century. Here a race course is marked with flags on the frozen lagoon in front of the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse in 1902.

See also: Humboldt Park; Skating (Ice)

Ice Skating, Washington Park, 1905

The Midway linking Washington and Jackson Parks was flooded beginning in the early twentieth century for winter skating. During other seasons, the area was used for playing fields. Here the dark figures of boys and girls stand in sharp relief of the white ice and snow.

See also: Hyde Park; Skating (Ice)

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