We’ve had a pretty frigid winter, but it’s been balmy compared to what New Yorkers had to deal with on February 9, 1934. On that morning, the city reached an all-time low temperature of 15 degrees below zero. And the temperature didn’t climb past 7 degrees the entire day.
Six men died from exposure. Hundreds of people, including many school kids, firefighters, and policemen, suffered frostbite.
Dozens of citizens trying to thaw out car radiators in closed garages were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. Coast Guard cutters couldn’t get through the ice in the Hudson.
But the city was determined to make sure no one suffered.
“With the municipal lodging houses, private charities and the commercial lodging houses, we are more than able to care for every homeless man and women in the city,” said William Hodson, Welfare Commissioner, to the The New York Times. “Our policy with the homeless unemployed is to care for them and then pay for it.”
This photo of the Maine monument in Central Park isn’t from February 1934. But it sure looks timelessly chilly.