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Breaking Up of the Ice, New York

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1137, p. 320.

March 29,1862


The Engraving on page 307, from a drawing by Harry Fenn, represents a striking scene that takes place annually about this time of the year in the waters surrounding New York. It is occasioned principally by the early thaw and separating of the ice in the upper part of the Hudson River. Being brought down by the receding tide, it flows round the city, and accumulates in dense masses, particularly in the narrow channel dividing Long Island from the mainland, called the East River. Here it becomes at times so choked as to put a stop to navigation, and makes it impassable to everthing [sic] everything but the ferry-boats, these cutting their way by main force though masses of ice that look large enough to stop the progress of any vessel. A New York ferry-boat presents a strange appearance to a person new to America, looking far more like a floating house, or even street, than anything else. These boats comprise two spacious saloons or cabins—one for the smoking and chewing fraternity, the other dedicated to the ladies, but used by the public in general. They are well provided with cushioned seats, and brilliantly lighted with gas, the larger ones carrying vast numbers of persons, as well as accommodation for forty or fifty vehicles.

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