Time was, people skated on Jamaica Pond, and they liked it

Skating on Jamaica Pond

The Library of Congress has this drawing of people skating in Jamaica Plain (and some who have plunged to the ice) in 1859 or thereabouts.

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this is one thing that really bums me out about Boston

There is such a strong history of skating and ice hockey in the region, but stuff like skating on the many ponds or the river is basically dead here. I understand that insurance costs probably makes this impossible, but man would it be awesome to skate and play shinny on Jamaica Pond or the Charles.

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Why can't people skate on

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Why can't people skate on those ponds? Is there a law. People skate on all of the ponds in my town.

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Ice is safe when it freezes

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Ice is safe when it freezes thick enough. This can be measured, and someone in charge can put up a "no skating today" sign until it's safe. Even if road salt and fertilizer make the pond less likely to freeze, this still works the same way.

I suspect the real reason is that the DCR likes to ban things.

Like swimming in Jamaica Pond

I'm pretty sure Ice Skating is illegal, too. Not only that, skating on ponds can require a lot of work. If there is snow, it's a big pain to shovel it. I'm not saying that is impossible, but the City could encourage it by helping with shoveling/plowing.

Though, in my home town the town used to run a Jeep with a plow on it to clear the skating pond... until it broke through the ice. That was a decade or so ago, and I've moved away since then, but I don't believe the town does that anymore.

OOPS

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Why?

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Jamaica Pond is a kettle pond, meaning amongst other things it is wicked deep. The fear is that someone could fall through and never come back up.

Scarborough Pond in Franklin Park is quite shallow, yet skating is still frowned upon. I cannot say it’s illegal, as I did it once and the Parks guys saw me. They said to be descrete about it.

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Jamaica Pond may be deeper now that in 1859

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Emerald Necklace is c. 1890, I wonder if construction of carriage, horse and ped paths combined with a dam and spillway made it deeper? Also, it was a primary source of ice for food preservation so there may have been more shallower spots dredged out in those days to promote quicker freezing (also, its a drawing and NOT a photo, perhaps some artistic license?). I don't know, just guessing, but it is spring-fed and the upwelling of water contributes to the uncertain quality of the ice toward the middle, DON'T. GO. ON. IT. PERIOD.

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Once a pond's depth is above

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Once a pond's depth is above your head, why does it matter how much deeper it is? Submerged is submerged.

Sorry, not the DCR -- the

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Sorry, not the DCR -- the city of Boston.

(I always forget that the DCR doesn't own the Emerald Necklace park even though they own the roads. While they own most of the other linear parks, including the Charles and the Southwest Corridor. How did that come to be?)

Balderdash! Why I put on my

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Balderdash! Why I put on my topping hat and skating boots and went to the pond but a fortnight ago! I had my servant boy test the ice and he appeared to be having a jolly time before he fell in. He asked if he could stay in my carriage house on Eliot Street and warm up next to the horses but then who would carry my bags back to the family mansion on Louisburg Square?

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The comment

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was saying that one of the reasons that the tradition has diminished is because the ponds freeze less frequently, which is true. It is also true that the main reason for that is climate change, though you are the one who brought that up. The fact that we are experiencing a cold spell is immaterial to either of those observations.

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They Should flood

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The fields which don't have sprinkler systems, Fallon Field would a start.

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Agree with this completely!

I wish the city would flood fields so we could skate on them. We have (too few) roller hockey rinks, and nothing but a few ice rinks around the city where public skate is just skating around in an oval and non-public skate ice time is super expensive.

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West Rox

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Has public hockey for $10.

Outdoor rinks in Medford

Seems there is a wealth of outdoor skating up here. There are several parks with rinks set up http://www.medfordtop10.com/2017/12/11/city-installing-outdoor-skating-r...

There are also some shallow ponds that should be set any day - we used to go out on a pond in the woods (lack of water may still be a problem this year), as well as on the big pond that is part of the Brooks Estate in Medford. The only trick is whether someone has been clearing off snow after it has frozen up.

I believe the Town of Arlington drains the Reservoir swimming area and lets it freeze - fall through that and you will get a wet ankle as it is very shallow.

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The used to

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Back in my parents day flood the fields for skating (guessing it was just off the hydrants), or so they claim.

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Rivers Are Never Safe To Skate On!

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The flowing water of a river results in uneven thickness of the ice. Some areas may be perfectly safe, but other spots may; unpredictably; be dangerously thin.

Worse, if the ice breaks and you fall through, the river current will carry you downstream under the layer of unbroken ice where you won't be able to come back up.

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Touche'

But I am referring to the city encouraging stuff like this. In the Charles with its slow current and shallow areas, dedicating an area for skating shouldn't be difficult.

In fact, a lot of this frustration stems from the fact that pond hockey on the Lagoon would be so awesome!

Can you imagine a pond hockey tournament a la http://www.blackicepondhockey.com/ on the lagoon's on the Esplanade?!

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I heard that in Scandinavia,

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I heard that in Scandinavia, families go on all-day skating outings on rivers, from one town to the next. Everyone carries two mini ice axes on a string around their neck, which enables them to pull themselves out if they fall through the ice.

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Feeney World

Before my time in this neighborhood, but HP Fairmount Hill residents 50 or older remember fondly ice skating on top of the hill off Milton Avenue. The reservoir that was there for a couple of centuries below 150 Milton Ave. and the huge tract that became Rep. Michael P. Feeney's land made ponds and marshland. Word is that HP and visitors from Milton skated there.

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More like decades than

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More like decades than centuries, I expect. In the early 1700s, that would have been farm land and wood lots. Most likely post-Civil war, when the town of Hyde Park was founded.

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Niggle, niggle, kvetch

Centuries ago is the early to mid-19th Century. While there were folk by the Neponset in what became Hyde Park out of parts of Canton (itself formerly part of Stoughton) and Milton. The formal layout out of Fairmount Hill was in 1856, or 161 years ago when the Twenty Associates built their houses and farms.

That reservoir was used by several towns, including as a backup by Boston before HP became part of the city. What I read was that it developed nasty algae, making it useless for water supply. However, according to long-time residents, it made for good ice skating.

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Jamaica Pond skaters in 1770s

J.L. Bell (@Boston1775) posted the following tweet in response to Adam's post:

Young Lt. Martin Hunter of the British army skated on Jamaica Pond in the winter of 1774-75. He recalled the best skater was Maj. Thomas Musgrave of the 64th.

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Motorcycle Ice Racing

Is the only respectable thing to be doing on the Ice. McCrea Pond in Weston has a fantastic track when the conditions are perfect.

We were skating on it yesterday to test the ice :)

WAM