In the 1830's, a very upscale series of houses surrounded St. John's Park, with St. John's Chapel facing the park. The park was bordered by Varick, Beach, Hudson, and Laight Streets. Some of New York's oldest and most prosperous families owned houses viewing the park.
In the 1860's, ice skating was fashionable and popular in New York. The winters at the time were unusually cold, and the trustees of St. John's Park agreed to flood the park on multiple occasions. This created a large skating "rink." Skaters from the general public could purchase admission for $0.10 a person. Onlookers came by sleigh to watch the fun.
Illustration from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 3, 1866: St. John's Park, presumably from the Hudson Street side.
Reference: Homberger, Eric, "Mrs. Astor's New York." Yale University Press, 2002.