Zurich experienced spectacular snowfall in January 2021. It covered the city with 30-50cm of snow in just a few hours.
It looked stunning, photogenic, and very Alpine-like. The social media was full of dazzling photos that surely will go to the weather chronicles. That made me remember unique photo archives of people ice skating on the frozen Lake Zürich. I saw them in the book by Walter Baumann, Alfred Cattani, Hugo Loetscher, Ernst Scheidegger “Zürich zurückgeblättert 1870-1914 Werden und Wandel einer Stadt”. I also searched and gathered together other photo-records to share with you that rare lake condition.
Zurich Winter Wonderland
An interesting fact about Zurich is that the weather might change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. From snowing to raining, depends on elevation. While the higher areas have some snow from time to time, it was unusual and exciting to see a puffy white blanket of snow enveloping the city centre.
Winter Archives Of Frozen Lake Zürich
Lake Zürich (Zürichsee) is everyone’s favourite place to be during warm summer days. However, not long ago, it was also a popular place for ice skating during frosty winter. The lake has a max. length of 40 km; a max. width of 3 km and a max. depth of 136 m. Impressively, this massive amount of water can indeed be completely frozen.
Throughout history, the lake has been frozen more than once. In fact, 25 times since 1223, with the latest freeze in 1963.
Around 1855, the first ice skates with steel skate blades replaced the wooden ones on Lake Zürich.
Since then, the lake’s frozen shores have become one of the most popular meeting points for ice skating enthusiasts.
The first widely photo-documented “Seegfrörni” (“lake freeze”) took place in 1891. Besides food, drinks and numerous selling stands, visitors could also enjoy toboggan riding, ice skating and horse sledging. For the first time, women were allowed to go on the ice with ice skates.
Another memorable “Seegfrörni” happened in 1963. Once again, citizens and guests of the city of Zurich could enjoy the frozen lake. However, we should not forget the police and the city engineering department’s hard work, who made it safe for citizens as well as rescued many lake birds. On February 10, 1963, over 150,000 people were on the ice, enjoying jazz music, hot-chestnut stands, grilled sausages, drinks and of course ice skating.
Imagine, Street Parade atmosphere with rhythmic beating and yummy eating, but on the frozen lake. Incredible ice party!
So, can we expect this thrilling phenomenon occur any time soon again? That really depends on particular weather conditions, but I really hope so.
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