Winter Sketches in New YorkThe Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1298, p. 59.
January 21, 1865
A Correspondent in New York, to whose pencil we owe the Illustrations of skating and sleighing in that city, writes as follows:--
"A few days before Christmas we had a heavy snowstorm here, which brought out the sleighs and made things look seasonable. Some of the omnibus proprietors laid up their wheeled vehicles for the time, substituting for them immense concerns on runners, drawn by six horses, and capable of holding some forty persons each when closely packed. I send herewith a sketch of one of these omnibus-sleighs. Their occupation is a transient and uncertain one in New York, and, even as I write, the snow has quite disappeared, and mud is the order of things once more.
"The brief spell of cold weather also brought out the skaters in great force. For two or three nights many thousands of persons enjoyed the sports of the ice in Central Park, the lakes and ponds of which favourite place of resort were in excellent condition. The scene at night, on such occasions, is very striking. Powerful burners are placed so as to illuminate the whole surface, and the light from these is reflected with great splendour by the clear ice. I send herewith a sketch of one of these night scenes. The buildings on the further shore of the lake contain accommodation for the skaters. There are refreshment-rooms, a cloak-room, and another room where skates are let out on hire. Here there is a long counter, behind which a great array of skates of every description is displayed upon the wall. Groups of persons are always collected round the great stove, which is a feature of all public rooms in New York. Numbers of young girls, attended by their beaus, are to be seen here, as skating has become quite the fashion since the opening of Central Park, some four or five years ago. The last day I visited the place I noticed in the group around the stove a very respectable looking negro woman, dressed in rather an expensive set of furs. She had with her two small boys of colour, whom I afterwards saw wheeling about on their skates with great glee. The policeman in the sketch is one of the park-keepers, who are picked from the metropolitan police, and are remarkably fine, soldierly-looking fellows, dressed in a very becoming, light-grey uniform. The Americans are a progressive people. I observed that some of the boys here who assist skaters in putting on their irons have discarded the time-honoured gimlet, so long and favourably known in connection with skates; using instead of it a bit and brace."