Tag Archives: Snowstorm

A Look Back At New York City’s Great Blizzard of 2016

A Photographic Essay of New York City’s Great Blizzard of 2016 

One year ago, on the afternoon of Friday, January 22, 2016 snow began to fall in New York City. Nothing new there, but it kept snowing and it didn’t stop snowing until late Saturday night.

Late morning Saturday, January 23, when snow was falling as fast as three inches per hour, it was time to go outside.

This was the scene.

Madison Avenue is nearly deserted. Few people and little traffic.

There is absolutely no traffic on the FDR Drive.

Here is Fifth Avenue looking north from 72nd Street. Only one car is parked on the avenue and an ambulance in the distance is the sole vehicle navigating the treacherous driving conditions.

Tell me again: how long will parking be suspended for?

People brave the storm, venture outside and pause to take in the natural beauty of Carl Schurz Park.

No one is sitting on the park benches today at Carl Schurz Park on East 86th Street. Continue reading

Snow, Sleighing, Skating and Pure Joy In Central Park 1863

Central Park – A Winter Oasis of Sleighing and Skating in 1863

Central Park after the snow February 5, 1863. Woodcut from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper January 30, 1864.

New York City received its first significant snowfall this winter on January 7, 2016 with about 6 inches of snow covering Manhattan. That day and the next, Central Park had children sleighing down its various hills. Ice skating was available for all at Wollman Rink.

Would anyone today recognize Central Park 154 years ago with similar activity?

Reproduced here for the first time since it appeared in the January 30, 1864 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, is this fantastic woodcut Illustration of Central Park. Unfortunately there is no artist attribution.

At first glance you would think this rural scene is not even in New York City, but the telltale signs are evident that this is indeed Central Park.

In the distant background, buildings can be seen. In the foreground is a proverbial one horse open sleigh. Other sleighs race past one another as their riders are covered in warm blankets and animal skins. One sleigh is named, the “Snow Bird.”

If you look carefully on the right you can see a familiar Central Park balustrade that onlookers are leaning against and taking in all the action.  Skaters glide across the frozen lake which begs the question: if you did not own ice skates, where could you get them from?

There was a structure called the “skating tent” in the southern portion of Central Park that rented out skates. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #70 – 59th Street Central Park – 1903

59th Street, Fifth Avenue & Central Park On a Snowy Day – 1903

central-park-december-1903-from-burr-mcintoshThis panoramic view looking west from 5th Avenue of 59th Street, also known as Central Park South, was published in December 1903 by a theatrical magazine, Burr McIntosh monthly. Unless you’ve seen that issue of the magazine (unlikely) this view has remained unseen for the last 113 years.

A snowy day means light pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A few horse drawn vehicles are braving the elements, while a handful of pedestrians go about their business.

The building In the upper left corner on the south side of 59th Street is John D. Phyfe and James Campbell’s New Plaza Hotel (the original Plaza Hotel) built 1885-1890.

Phyfe and Campbell ended up losing the hotel in foreclosure before it was completed and it was purchased on September 18, 1888 by the New-York Life Insurance Co. for the bargain price of $925,000. Continue reading

Old Photos Of New York City & Snow

A Big Snowstorm In New York? Not a Big Deal In The Past

Some vintage photos of snow in New York City and thoughts about how we cope with it

1905 Fifth Avenue & 27th Street after a big storm

1905 Fifth Avenue & 27th Street after a big storm photo Detroit Publishing

New York City is getting some snow on January 23, 2016. Possibly a lot of it. You know what I say to that? It’s snow, it’s not a big deal.

On January 3, 2014 just days after taking office as mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio blundered in panicking and declaring a disaster before any snow had fallen. The big predicted blizzard that shut down the city including the schools: it ended up being five inches of snow.

1935 snowstorm effects on midtown Manhattan. Life goes on.

1935 snowstorm effects on midtown Manhattan. Life goes on.

The media in its 24 hour news cycle has to generate ratings and viewers. It broadcasts “news” that conveys sheer panic every time New York is slated to receive almost any amount of snow above three inches. Then the mayor or governor gets on TV surrounded by a bunch of sycophants who just stand there and in somber tones take turns assuring viewers that everything will be all right.

1908 horse drawn trolley trudges through New York's snow covered streets

1908 horse drawn trolley trudges through New York’s snow covered streets

This phenomenon of turning every single snowstorm into some crisis is ridiculous and what’s more: it never used to happen. Approaching snowstorms now start a vicious circle by both media and politicians of fear, seriousness and over-protection in the name of safety. We have become a society that seems to be having a hard time dealing with snow, let alone nature.

1908 Snow at night on Riverside Drive Viaduct photo NY Edison Co.

1908 Snow at night on Riverside Drive Viaduct photo NY Edison Co.

Continue reading

Los Angeles’ First Snowstorm – 1932

The First Time It Snowed In Hollywood (and Los Angeles)

Hollywood First snowstorm ever Jan 15 1932Hollywood woke up early yesterday morning (Friday January 15)to welcome the first real snow storm in Southern California’s history. Judith Wood, Paramount screen player who is recovering from an automobile accident, forgot the doctor’s orders and dashed out into the storm shortly after five o’clock. (photo – Paramount, January 15 1932)

Los Angeles Times Jan 16 1932 (click to enlarge)

Los Angeles Times Jan, 16, 1932 photo coverage of storm (click to enlarge)

When you think of snow, you usually don’t think of Los Angeles. But 84 years ago today Los Angeles residents awoke and were shocked to discover a city covered in snow.

The surprise snowstorm began at 5:00 a.m. and continued for over two hours. The Los Angeles Times said it was “the first official snowfall recorded in the United States Weather Bureau’s fifty-four year existence in the city.”

Snow had fallen before in Los Angeles but never in measurable quantities. Claude Luce, a Los Angeles resident since 1875,  said he remembered one inch of snow falling in 1880. Continue reading

Worst Snowstorms In New York History – January 1925

January 2015, Not As Bad January 1925

Trolley stuck in snow during storm

Trolley stuck in snow during storm

It was bad for Suffolk County, NY and Boston, MA, but New York City’s 2015 “worst blizzard of all time” did not live up to its billing.

Official records for the city have been kept since 1869, and so far this January, New York City has received a relatively small amount of snow with 14.3 inches accumulating.

January 1925 arrived and departed like a polar bear and New York City was the unwelcome recipient of 27.4 inches of snow, the most ever recorded for any January up to that time. (This record was finally eclipsed in January 2011 when the city recorded 36 inches of snow.)

But it was not only New York City that got hit multiple times in January 1925 with lots of snowstorms, but upstate New York got slammed as well.

The tally for the city read like this: A relentless snowstorm that lasted two days occurred from January 2-3. On January 12 the city required 12,000 shovelmen to tackle another snowstorm that clogged the streets. January 20 New York City got hit with two blizzards in one day. January 27 more snow fell and then the coup de grace; the giant storm on January 30 that affected the metropolitan area.

Ninety years ago today on January 30, New York City was hit hard, but so was the entire region. How bad was it? Cattle in the streets? Ferry service ground to a halt? Here are a few excerpts of what Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #45

New York City 1905 After A Big Snowstorm – The Sights Along Broadway Between 29th and 30th Streets Described

New York After a Big Snowstorm 1905 ph Detroit Photo Library of CongressSo far New York City has not had a major snowstorm this season like upstate New York received earlier this month. But I dream of New York City days gone by like this one shown above.

In this high resolution photograph (click to greatly enlarge) taken in 1905, the effects of a recent snowstorm can be seen as the snow has been shoveled high onto the edge of the street and sidewalk.

We are looking up Broadway from the northwest corner of 29th Street towards 30th Street. On the extreme left at 1209 Broadway is one of the many United Cigar Stores outlets, a chain store which dominated New York’s tobacco retail industry at the turn of the century. Next door at 1211 Broadway is Marcus & Marcus supplying men’s furnishings.

Across the street at 1204 Broadway an advertisement in the window at ground level announces that the entire stock in their window was purchased by The Maurice Company, a clothing company run by Maurice Rogaliner. The “Broadway Dentists” also had offices in the same building along with Sol Young, Photographer.

Next door to the Maurice Company is Shanley’s Restaurant, owned by brothers Tom and Michael Shanley.

Shanley’s was one of the most famous eateries of the late 19th and early 20th century in Manhattan. With three restaurants, this one at 1210-1212 Broadway was their second location which opened in 1896. As the restaurant guide Where And How To Dine In New York (Lewis, Scribner & Co; 1903) describes it:

Everybody in New York knows Shanley’s and almost everybody has dined at one or another of the three establishments conducted under this name. The management acknowledges but one purpose in the conduct of its restaurants — to make its guests absolutely comfortable and to persuade them that Shanley^s holds the recipe for good cheer. It has taken twelve years to develop the atmosphere which one finds in Shanley’s and during this time the extent of its business operations has been greatly enlarged.   The service at Shanley’s is entirely a la carte. The cuisine is proverbial for its excellence. Chops, steaks, lobsters, game, shell fish and kidneys are among the special attractions of the house.

Next to Shanley’s the building with the initials HB and the crown on its sign is the Hof Brau Haus Restaurant. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #35

Snow Removal In New York 1908

Looking south from Fourth Avenue & 15th Street on the east side of Union Square horse carts remove piles of snow - January 25, 1908 (photos LOC)

Looking south from 4th Avenue & 15th Street on the east side of Union Square horse carts remove piles of snow – January 25, 1908 (all photos Library of Congress)

While some people were complaining about the lack of snow removal in New York City this past week, it makes you realize how dependent we are on mechanized snowplows.

One hundred six years ago today, a major snowstorm similar to this past week’s storm, hit New York City on January 24, 1908 and dumped over ten inches of snow in New York and 35 mile per hour gusts of wind had some snowdrifts pile up from six to ten feet.

During the snowstorm near 9 East 14th Street - January 24, 1908

During the snowstorm by 9 E. 14th Street – January 24, 1908

The snow began the night of January 23 and continued until the afternoon of the 24th. The temperature never dipped below 22 degrees, but it was still miserable for commuters trying to get around town.

According to the New York Tribune, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent men around to spread sand over the streets to prevent horses from falling. Unfortunately they only could get to a handful of spots and horses slipped and fell in heaps all over the city. The human toll from the storm was four deaths and thirteen injuries directly attributable to the severe weather.

The scene in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

The scene in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

All of the snow had to be removed by manual labor. And when the city put out notices that men were needed for temporary work to remove the snow with shovels, over 30,000 men applied.

Men shoveling snow in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

Men shoveling snow in front of Everett House 17th Street north side of Union Square January 25, 1908

At one recruiting station, the United Charities Building on East 3rd Street, 100 men were needed and 3,000 showed up. The police had to be called Continue reading

Times Square January 11, 1954 – Lots of Snow And Cold Weather

January 11-12, 1954 – Biggest Snowstorm In Five Years Hits New York

Times Square Snowstorm Jan 12 1954

60 years ago, on Monday January 11, 1954 New York City got walloped with a 10 inch snowstorm with temperatures dipping down to 15 degrees. The storm continued on through Tuesday making travel difficult and it gave sanitation department workers extra long shifts for snow removal. It was the heaviest snowfall in New York City since December 19-20, 1948, when more than 19 inches fell.

The scene shown here is Times Square looking north with the Hotel Astor on the left. Directly across the street is the famous Bond Clothiers advertising sign.

The snow did not result in shutting down New York City schools. Some elementary schools did allow girls to be dismissed 15 minutes early to spare them from being pelted with snowballs by the boys. Just outside of the city it was a different story as Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties generally did close public and parochial schools for the day.

The snow ended at 7:05 a.m. on January 12. Highways were mostly kept clear, but most drivers played it safe and left their cars at home. The real problem was that over the next two days the temperature in New York kept dropping. It went down to a low of 11 degrees, freezing the snow into hard packed ice, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate the streets.

Western Rockland and northern Westchester counties, saw the temperature dip to as low as two below zero. In northern Maine the temperature was minus 25.

The cold wave stuck around for a whole week. The temperature hit a two year low in New York City on the morning of January 18. The mercury registered just 8.8 degrees at 1:30 a.m.. The weather finally changed on January 19 when the temperature rose to 40 degrees.

Baseball In A Blizzard – The Detroit Tigers 1911 Snow Game

Snow Doesn’t Stop A Tiger Victory 

In the old days of baseball when there were fewer games and no playoff rounds, the baseball season started in mid-April. In part, the later start date was to try and prevent what happened to the Tigers on Saturday, April 15, 1911. The Tigers were playing their third game of the year at their home field, Bennett Park, against the Chicago White Sox on what started out as a cold and raw day.

One sportswriter said the game was played  in “conditions that were unprecedented.”

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

Patsy Dougherty triples for the White Sox.

The snow started to fall in the top of the sixth.  The White Sox had an opportunity to break a scoreless tie when Patsy Dougherty led off the sixth inning with a solid triple. Continue reading