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Walking on Water

Jan 28, 2009 11:59 AM | 1 comment

In my last entry, I alluded to my love for our print collection.  With all of the snow and ice we have seen this winter, I thought I would share another favorite:


Harper's Weekly published this print in March of 1871.  Here we see a few ambitious souls walking across a frozen East River while others enjoy the unusual scene from the safety of the piers.  Although it was not a regular occurrence, the East River did freeze from time to time, stopping all boat traffic and giving Brooklynites and New Yorkers (the two were still independent cities) the opportunity to cross the river on foot. When the Brooklyn Bridge was proposed, the weather's ability to stop inter-city travel was cited as a reason for the bridge; walking across the frozen river was more of a spontaneous adventure than a practical commuting alternative.  According to the accompanying article, the changing tides forced the ice to break apart after only a few hours, leaving groups of people scrambling for safety.  Those not quick enough to reach land in time were stranded on ice floats in the frigid water--a frightening end to a playful excursion.

The thought of people awaiting rescue on temporary floats is reminiscent of the recent "miracle on the Hudson."  Similarly, Harper's reports that during this particular day all of the stranded individuals were saved by local ferry and tugboat companies.  No one, to their knowledge, was left behind on the ice.  Yet another example of the efficiency of New York Harbor's long-running ferry system.


2/5/2009 5:39:54 PM #

It feels cold enough today for the East River to freeze over! I wonder if it will ever happen again?