Heavy snowfall, while lovely as it is to look at, creates a headache for most New Yorkers. But all that white stuff presents an opportunity for workers looking for extra cash.
“12,000 Find Work in the Streets,” announced the headline for a New York Times story on February 15, 1914.
After 10 inches of snow had fallen, thousands of men lined up at “unemployment stations” established “in the lodging house districts” by the “cleaning department,” which sounds like it may have been part of the Department of Sanitation.
In Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, “116 gangs of men were put to work in the streets in those boroughs,” wrote the Times, using old-fashioned shovels, horse carts, and 19 “automobile trucks.”
While thousands of men were getting paid to haul the snow, a side industry popped up outside the lodging houses: men with pushcarts selling “strips of burlap and bagging,” so the pickers and shovelers could keep their feet warm.
“Practically every ’emergency man’ at work in the street cleaning gangs last night had his feet incased [sic] in overshoes and leggings made of burlap bound with rope and twine,” reported the Times.
[Top and bottom photos: New York Times; middle: LOC/Bain Collection]