Forest Park held a special election to issue a bond for the park district to build an outdoor skating rink in 1958. Promised to the community as a “self-supporting” initiative that would “pay for itself,” the innovative rink was to be positioned above the tennis courts creating recreation year-round. Next to the rink was constructed a warming center, which is still used today. In order to build the artificial ice rink, copper piping for refrigeration was placed below in asphalt (rather than concrete) and a water-and-brine solution was placed on top to freeze.
The first ice skating season opened Dec. 28, 1958 and it cost grade-schoolers 50 cents to skate if they didn’t have a pass. Unfortunately, the next summer it was discovered that as the asphalt heated under the sun, the tennis courts began to bow in the shape of the copper tubing below, and the courts were permanently damaged. The rink itself had other problems, mainly snow removal, which was done by a very costly zamboni that was often in need of repair.
The rink was eventually scrapped after about a decade, an expense that took taxpayers years to recover from. Click through for more ads, photos and letters to the editor about the ice rink.