1887 Ice Palace

The 1887 Ice Palace

The St. Paul Ice Palace and Winter Carnival Association held a competition for the design of the ice palace that would again stand in the center of Central Park. The grand prize was $200, which was won by Charles Joy. The budget for the 1887 ice palace was $7,500.

Joy set out to test the structural limits and artistic ability of ice. In plan, the palace footprint was in the shape of a Roman cross, 194 feet by 217 feet. The main entrance to the palace was on the south side, through a semi-circular archway over 15 feet high, atop which sat a sculpture of Ice King Borealis flanked by reindeer. Through this entrance, one entered the central courtyard surrounded by buttressed walls nearly 25 feet tall, which also included a large sculpture of a bull. As visitors moved either to the left or right of the courtyard, they were led to other chambers and towers on the east, west, and north sides of the structure. The west entrance had both square and flat-topped round towers, and the east entrance had a steepled entrance gate.

1887 Ice Palace Interiors

Area stone masons earned 10 cents a day working on the 1887 ice palace. At the pedestrian level of the building, each block gave the appearance of being blasted out of an iceberg. As the visitors’ eye moved upward, the wall surface became more refined with evidence of diamond-shaped inserts. Towards the top, the walls became smooth and transparent. This attention to architectural detail has led some historians to speculate that Cass Gilbert had a hand in the ice palace’s design.

Featured image: The 1887 Ice Palace

More Ice Palace History:
1886 Ice Palace
1887 Ice Palace
1888 Ice Palace
1889-1900 Ice Palaces
1916-1917 Ice Palaces
1930-1937 Ice Palaces
1938-1941 Ice Palaces
1942-1975 Ice Palaces
1976-2004 Ice Palaces