Spy Pond, Arlington MA

Spy Pond in Arlington is a nice scenic locale and a decent picnic spot. I've made many visits to it when I lived in Arlington a decade ago, particularly after the birth of my first daughter.

A recent visit to this venue brought back another fond memory from not very long ago. It reminded me of Professor Utterback's performance(I call it a performance because it was more than a lecture.) about Boston's thriving Ice industry of the 1800s.

Before the advent of the modern day refrigerator, ice making was an expensive proposition. Boston was the world's 'ice headquarters'. It was shipped to Europe and even Calcutta India. (A thank-you memento for ice delivery from the mayor of Calcutta to a Boston ice distributer still resides in the Peabody Museum.)

It was America that taught the rest of the world how to keep wine cold and even have ice-cream(a novelty reserved for only the elite in Europe.) .As time went on,the Europeans responded by producing their own ice.

In the early days there were special metal 'cupboards' used to store ice. Photos Utterback exhibited revealed that they bore a striking resemblance to modern fridges. The ice blocks were placed in the top shelf.

The early refrigerators were modeled to look like these cupboards, to enable an easier transition to the newer technology. This was the reason why freezers are located in the top shelf of modern fridges.

Spy Pond was one of the places where ice was harvested and shipped all over the world. Utterback even showed us old black and white footage showing how ice was 'manufactured, cut into blocks and moved from Spy Pond. In his office resides one of the old axe-like implements used by workers to cut the ice.

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