During the early 20th century, ‘natural’ ice was in decline. ‘Artificial’ or ‘manufactured’ ice was taking its place. Men continued to carve ice out of ponds and lakes during the winter, for storage in great ice warehouses to meet demand during summer. Increasingly, however, other men made ice on demand through a process of manipulating the volume of a gas using a compressor. Delivery of ice continued, as the initial ice-making equipment was quite large. The hustle and bustle of urban places continued to feature icemen and their horse-drawn wagons delivering blocks of ice, ‘cakes’ as they were called.
We jump into this stream of progress in 1917. The United States had just entered World War I, and was taking control of the economy through conscription, wartime production and wage and price controls. In New York State, there was concern that the gas used in the production of manufactured ice would be needed to make explosives. An ‘ice comptroller’ was established by law, with the power to regulate the manufacture of ice from New York City and Long Island, up the Hudson River to Albany and Rensselaer, as well as to regulate the prices of ice from wholesale to retail. One of the first actions of the ice comptroller was to shut down indoor skating rinks.