Surveying Walden: 01_The Frozen Water Trade

Surveying Walden: 01_The Frozen Water Trade

(For full project, see

Ice-harvesting seems, perhaps, a strange place to begin reading Thoreau. How odd to dig though transcendentalist musings on a pond merely to, in Lewis Carroll fashion, come out the other side entangled with the cotton of Calcutta or the confectionery connections between cloves, lager, and frozen seafood shipping. Yet, Thoreau’s description of the 1847 ice harvest provides an opening to explore the links between the democratization of climate control and the mechanisms of colonial trade.

This infographic excavates both the local impacts of the 1850s ice-trade, from rail-based harvest sites to the enlargement of Boston's milkshed, and the larger trade triangles supported by shipping ice as a ballast.

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