The New Rock Center:
The South Street Seaport See/Change Ice Skating Rink
The setting: This open-air rink accommodating approximately 200 skaters is located at the historic Fulton and Front Streets. Officials hope to draw locals to the tourist-heavy museum and shopping district with winter-themed ice-skating shows, ice-carving exhibitions, and D.J. nights.
The crowd: Europeans exploring the sights and shops; college hockey players turned Wall Street traders.
Know before you go: Half-price discounts on admission and rentals are available for residents living within qualifying Zip Codes, and season passes go for $200. The rink is operated by the Howard Hughes Corporation, which is working to redevelop the Hurricane Sandy–battered South Street Seaport and build a 50-story hotel-condo and marina.
Après-skate: Check out the rink-side Skate Shop café serving assorted empanadas, truffle-Cheddar pretzels, and Nutella-filled churros. For a historic hot toddy, head to the Paris Café (119 South St., at Peck Slip; 212-240-9797), newly reopened after Hurricane Sandy and dating to 1873.
Where: At Fulton and Front Sts.; no phone.
Open: Monday–Thursday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Entrance fee: $10, free for kids under 5; skate rentals for $6
Private lessons: From $60 per hour
Size: 4,950 square feet
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has allocated $1.2 million for a new rink in Washington Heights set in Highbridge Park, and inspired by Lasker Rink in Central Park. The community board was supportive of the proposal, and the city is asking for bids from operators; organizers hope to have the rink open by next winter.
Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza
Neighborhood advocates in Bed-Stuy hope to reopen an ice rink at Restoration Plaza that’s been closed for nearly twenty years. Dating to the sixties, the rink was the site of a popular Christmas celebration where celebrities—including the Kennedy children—skated alongside local residents. The city awarded $50,000 to the $300,000 project, and it’ll likely be ready for next winter.
The Kingsbridge Armory
Built in the 1910s to house the National Guard, this empty fortress in the Bronx is slated to be the country’s largest ice-sports center by 2017. The 750,000-square-foot plan includes nine regulation-size ice rinks on two separate levels, designed for hockey games and ice shows, with a feature rink seating 5,000 people. New York Rangers captain Mark Messier and gold-medalist skater Sarah Hughes are involved in the project, set to cost $275 million.
So Why All the New Rinks?
“It’s the suburbanization of New York City,” explains urban-planning strategist James Lima, who likens the surge to other “suburban experiences” that have ramped up here in the past decade, like big-box retailers (“We love our Target”) and the family-friendly everything in Brooklyn. The rink trend also speaks to “our embracing of public spaces,” adds Lima, whether it’s outdoor seating in Times Square or the winter village in Bryant Park or the High Line. Plus there are the technological advances, says mayoral spokesperson Amanda Konstam, which enable spots like McCarren Park to be multiuse: “Many rinks are now portable and can be set up and taken down at a fairly moderate cost.”