Looking back at archival photos of wintry scenes

Dec 23, 2019

With winter officially here, we’re celebrating with a roundup of some of the best photographs of snowy scenes from our archives. These images capture New Englanders experiencing the unpredictability of winter weather throughout history.

Man jumping over large puddle on the street

“Puddle jumper,” Boston, 1953
Verner Reed
A man in a coat and hat stretches his legs wide to navigate over a puddle. The winter streets of Boston are covered in snow, ice, and water.

Two girls sit on a sled and one girl stands behind them

“Two girls on sled”
Harriot Appleton Curtis

Photograph of three young girls dressed for winter play. The girls in the sled are daughters of the photographer, Harriot Appleton Curtis, and the third girl holding the reins may also be her daughter.

A boy stands under a frozen fountain

“Frozen Fountain,” Chicopee Falls, Mass.
Knowlton Bros.

A young boy stands under a frozen fountain in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.

Ice melting off a fence

“Thaw in Warwick, Rhode Island,” c. 1914
Wallace Nutting

This winter scene shows snow melting off a picket fence in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Children run after a toboggan sliding down a slope

“Children tobogganing”
Mary H. Northend

A group of ten children run toward an unoccupied toboggan. A large home can be partially seen in the background.

Three girls ride a toboggan

“Children tobogganing”
Three children are seated on a toboggan preparing to descend a slope in a wooded area.

Several children are on a toboggan about to go down a slope

“Children tobogganing”
Mary H. Northend
Three groups of children arrange themselves on toboggans in preparation for descending a hill. A man in a derby appears to be assisting them. There is a large house in the background.

Boston Common under a blanket of snow

“Boston Common during a snow storm,” Boston, 1900-1920
Halliday Historic Photograph Co.

A blanket of snow covers Boston Common and weighs down the branches of the trees. A crew of workers shovel out the pathways. In the middle distance is the Brewer Fountain, which was donated by merchant Gardner Brewer to the city in 1868 and is a copy of a fountain which he saw at the 1855 Paris World’s Fair, designed by Paul Lienard and sculpted by Mathurin Moreau. The dome of the State House towers over the wintry landscape.

A buggy and a car sit under a blanket of snow next to a house

“Twenty below zero,” Waterbury, Vermont, 1951
Verner Reed

A car, house, and buggy sit in the icy snow in Waterbury, Vermont.

Three men cut ice using a device harnessed to two horses

“Ice cutting,” Essex County, Mass., undated
Three men cut ice using a device harnessed to two horses.

Docked schooner covered in ice

“Schooner Augustus Hunt covered in ice,” unloading at the Boston Gas Company’s North End Works, 1880s
Baldwin Coolidge

The docked schooner Augustus Hunt is covered in thick ice and hoarfrost.

Lyman Estate under cover of snow

“Exterior view of the Lyman Estate, winter”
An exterior view of the Lyman Estate mansion in winter, with snow covering the ground.

A ship traverses an icy Cape Cod canal

“A ship traverses an icy Cape Cod Canal,” 1986
A black and white view of a ship as it travels down the Cape Cod Canal, which has undergone extensive freezing. The image shows the surrounding landscape covered with snow. From Images of America: Cape Cod Canal, pg. 125: “Winter conditions complicate travel through the Cape Cod Canal in this 1986 photograph.”

Children holding Christmas wreaths

“Christmas wreaths,” Faneuil Hall Market, 1922
Two boys hold wreaths at a stand.

Boston Public Library in the snow

“Boston Public Library,” Copley Square, Boston, Mass., 1898
A horse-drawn cart stands in front of the library in snow covered Copley Square. A few commercial buildings can be seen on Boylston Street.

Explore more photography from our collection here.