Lasker Rink is located in the northern part of Central Park in the New York City borough of Manhattan, between 106th and 108th Streets. It is just south of the Farmers Gate entrance on 110th Street and between Harlem Meer and the East Drive. It opened in 1966 and is known by New Yorkers as less crowded and more economical than Wollman Rink. It is named for Loula Davis Lasker (1886-1961), a philanthropist and social worker, and the daughter of German immigrant Morris Davis Lasker and sister of Albert Lasker. She donated $600,000 to help build the rink/pool.
Lasker is used as a swimming pool in the summer and a skating/hockey rink during the winter, and was the only such convertible facility of this type in the United States for many years. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, MacCarren Park Pool had a similar set up in 2013-14. In the winter, Lasker Rink is open from late October through March for public skating, skating schools, and ice hockey. Over the years the ice surface has had different configurations, but currently it is outfitted with two rinks, which are 195-feet by 65-feet, which is slightly smaller than the standard 200-feet by 85-feet National Hockey League hockey rinks. It uses artificial refrigeration to maintain the ice.
Lasker Rink is host to an annual charity adult hockey tournament, The Central Park Classic, taking place over Presidents Day weekend, run by the Canadian Association of New York, which draws teams from all over the northeast, including teams from Canada. Funds raised are donated to area youth hockey programs, including Ice Hockey in Harlem.
Some of the hockey programs that operate at Lasker Rink include:
- Central Park Ice Hockey uses two rinks where adult hockey leagues play 4 on 4 ice hockey. Teams can be coed and are separated based on skill level.
- Ice Hockey In Harlem (IHIH), a non-for-profit that combines classroom diligence with hockey. Volunteers act as coaches.
- The Central Park North Stars, a special needs hockey team. They play in the Special Hockey International League.
- Various private schools, such as St. Davids, St. Bernards, Buckley, and Browning.
- The NyIcecats, founded in 1999 by Sabbath observant Jewish families, which offers hockey to kids of every age, skill level, and religious background.
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- Williams, Lena (December 20, 2000). "Hockey; Program for Youngsters in Harlem Opens Books and Opens Doors". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-08.