Skating on the Lake


All you need is a smooth sheet of ice and a sharp pair of skates...

 

 

Washington Evening Times, January 16, 1896, p. 4.

 

 

Chevy Chase Lake was not just a seasonal summer retreat. Beginning in the first few years the lake was open, continuing until it closed in the 1930s, Chevy Chase Lake was home to some of the best ice skating found throughout the metropolitan Washington area. In the 1890s, as soon as the lake froze over and it was deemed safe enough to skate, advertisements appeared in the local newspapers, encouraging people of all ages to hop aboard the Chevy Chase Lake streetcars and make their way to the frozen Lake. For years to come the newspapers regaled the city with tales of the Lake during the winter months, especially noting that ideal skating could be had at any time of day for the lake was equipped with electric lights that bathed the lake in a romantic winter glow. In an article from The Washington Post on January 6, 1896, p. 2, the skating at Chevy Chase Lake is described, including an interesting anecdote about the young people whose favorite winter pastime was ice skating:

 

GOT THEIR SKATES ON:
Washington's Juvenile Contingent Enjoyed the New Ice

“Skating was good yesterday, and crowds of skaters bundled themselves up and cut fancy figures on the ice in the big basin and Chevy Chase Lake. Although the crowds which went out to the lake were not very large, they increased toward evening, and if the ice continues to thicken today the electric light company is going to connect the circuit and light the arc lamps around the lake for night skating. The surface has frozen smooth and large crowds are expected there today. It is the most popular skating place around the city for the girls, and of course where the girls want to skate is where the boys want to go.”

 

 

Cold Snaps...

Every winter, cold snaps and new snow fall brought the Lake under the watchful eye of eager ice skaters. As the ice continued to thicken, the Chevy Chase Land Company would turn on the lights around the lake announcing the winter season. Newspaper articles documented conditions of the ice, and reported on the crowds and the fun had by all. In one article from the early 1900s Chevy Chase Lake was considered an ice skating Mecca for skaters. Because the lake was not as big as the Tidal Basin, it was deemed safer, and provided a better, smoother surface for skaters. The solidity of the ice allowed for excellent skating conditions and as a result, hundreds of skaters would flock to the lake each night, staying until the last streetcar left to return to the city.
 
Margaret Winkler Skating at Chevy Chase Lake, 1927.
CCHS 1994.01.01

 

On the next page, listen to an oral history interview with George Winchester Stone, Jr. as he recalls skating on the lake.
 

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