Great Blizzard of 1888 – The Storm That Changed New York City
On March 11, 1888, an unprecedented blizzard hit the northeast. The storm paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Snowfalls of 20–60 inches (51–152 cm) fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railway and telegraph lines were disabled. Emergency services were also affected as the roads were covered in snow. The storm caused 200 deaths in New York City alone.
After the storm, the city officials realized the dangers of above-ground telegraph, water and gas lines and moved them below ground. A similar determination was made about the trains, and within 10 years, construction began on an underground subway system that is still in use today.
Check out the vintage photos showing the Great Blizzard of 1888 below.
1. As trains pass by on either side, a lone person walks across the Brooklyn Bridge after a blizzard left the bridge and tracks covered in snow, New York, New York, March 14, 1888.
2. Workers dig out the snow from underneath an elevated train line after the blizzard of 1888.
3. Snow covers a street and blows against a row of apartment houses surrounding Trinity Church during the Blizzard of 1888.
4. A New York street is shown during the blizzard of 1888. Telegraph and telephone poles and wires were downed and lay in the streets.
5. Men waiting at a railroad depot peer from behind a pile of snow after a snowstorm in New York City.
6. Pedestrians on site of the great blizzard in New York City.
7. Work crews remove snow in New York City’s Times Square following the Blizzard of 1888 in New York City.
8. The awning of a grocery store is damaged from the weight of the snow during the blizzard.
9. Carts haul snow and ice, cleared from city streets, to the river for dumping in the East River in New York.
10. The statue of George Washington on Wall Street, covered in snow. The building is now called the Federal Hall National Memorial.
11. A street of New York City.
12. Brooklyn cut off from City in 1888 blizzard – people crossed east river on ice floe.
13. Train cars of snow loaded at Grand Central to be removed from city.
14. Wall Street during 1888 blizzard.