February 1, 1814, marked the most recent “frost fair” on the Thames in London. Pop-up pubs serving gingerbread and gin appeared on the frozen river; skating and dancing occupied idle merchants, whose businesses were closed due to the icing of the river, and festive townsfolk. In 1814, even an elephant ambled along the stretch between London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, demonstrating the thickness of the ice. What happened to this winter carnival? One factor is London Bridge itself. In 1831, a new bridge whose arches encouraged more sea water to pass under the span made for a saltier Thames, less prone to freezing. Another reason is climate change. What is the future of frost? How will climate change affect cities and bridges?
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.