During one particular winter in the early 1910s, Central Park was invaded by an army of young sledders, tearing over the snow-covered terrain without thought to temperatures or bodily injury.
Believe it or not, the city encouraged children to use the city parks for sledding, especially given that the alternatives were slicked-up city streets. In fact, New York did everything possible to make parks an ideal sledding destination.
“Snow from the sidewalks around Hamilton Fish, DeWitt Clinton and East River parks has been thrown over the fences to form an embankment from which the youngsters can coast.” reported the New York Tribune in 1910. In Central Park, “never before were so many coasters in evidence.”
Indeed, automobiles posed a grim and dangerous threat to children sledders. The newspapers between 1909-1919 are filled with sad stories of children killed in sledding accidents, with autos frequently involved. Vehicles from the early days (not to mention, their novice drivers) were simply ill-equipped for icy conditions.
While some in the community lamented the mess made in public parks, most preferred keeping children safe. These pictures kind of make you want to make a go of it, don’t you think?