A city so hot, families sleep on the sidewalk

How steamy must this family’s apartment have been if they found relief dragging their pillows on the sidewalk and sleeping beside what looks like a store entryway?

The photo, taken by an unknown photographer on the Lower East Side, dates to 1910.

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8 Responses to “A city so hot, families sleep on the sidewalk”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I remember in the 1950s when people were evicted from their Lower East tenements and forced to live on the streets. Could this be one? I remember Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners had an episode about losing their apartment and forced to sit on a snowy day. Different weather but the pain was real.

  2. Blue Says:

    Years ago I saw an engraving or painting of New Yorkers sleeping on roofs and balconies and in my mind’s eye there were many people up there. Have you ever seen it?

    I have coworkers who slept in a tent in their garden under trees to try and cool off – mind you that was just for fun and they were only feet away from their air-conditioned house.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    There was a very brief caption under the photo referencing a hot day, and I’ve read accounts of people sleeping on sidewalks during heat waves, so I think this is weather-related.

    New Yorkers slept in parks, on beaches, and on fire escapes. This Weegee photo is one of my favorites:


  4. aidel Says:

    Considering how tightly packed families (and extended families) were into tiny, airless spaces (especially on higher floors) it makes sense that they would seek relief outdoors.

    Love the photo. The history of New York is one of my absolute favorite subjects!

  5. Derek Says:

    I live in AZ, and it’s hell when the AC dies in the summer. Unfortunately, it’s even hotter outside, so we don’t go to the sidewalks but rather the tile floor. We’ve come a long way when you think about the technology 100 (even 10) years ago.

    Great pic!

  6. Nabe News: August 13 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] on the sidewalk in the heat of 1910 [Ephemeral […]

  7. nymba123 Says:

    NYC has a terrible climate. Hot subtropical summers, storms, humidity and high energy costs. That is followed by a bone chilling torture winter with much ice, snow and wind.
    I can’t wait to move to Southern California !!

  8. Josh Says:

    Did anyone notice the (somewhat creepy) woman on the left keeping a watchful eye over her slumbering wards?

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