Ice skating has been a popular pastime and method of transportation for thousands of years, it seems. Holland, with abundant flat stretches of flooded land, was famous for ice skating. By the 19th century, skating was an accepted activity for women, although most pictures depict men skating and women watching them make fools out of themselves. Currier and Ives made a number of popular skating prints, ranging from fun on the farm to vast throngs of jolly urbanites crowding the ice at New York's Central Park.
Most of the fancy footwork and amazing leaps of today's figure skating was developed by competitive and exhibition skaters much later in the 19th century. Some of these skaters were Axel Paulson, Alois Lutz, and Urich Salchow. Names sound familiar?