Posts Tagged ‘Hotel Martin University Place’

The “Great White Hurricane” changes New York

March 5, 2012

Think it’s unlikely that a late-winter blizzard will strike this month? That’s what New Yorkers assumed in early March 1888, when the city was also treated to unseasonably warm weather in the 50s.

Then on March 11, heavy rains fell. As the day turned to night, temperatures plunged, rain turned to snow, and fierce winds gripped the city.

The snow continued for 36 hours. By the time it was over, more than 20 inches buried New York. Trains had stopped running.

Telegraph and telephone wires snapped, and the city was paralyzed for days. More than 200 deaths are attributed to the Great White Hurricane.

But the terrible storm taught the city a few things. First, it showed officials that an underground transportation system was absolutely necessary, one that wouldn’t be brought down in a storm. It set in motion the creation of the New York City subway.

Second, the blizzard permanently cleared the city of the mish-mash of telephone and telegraph cables that marred so many streets. They were moved underground.

[Top photo: the snow weighs down telephone and telegraph wires. Middle, a street car stuck in the snow at Ninth Street and University Place; bottom: Park Place in Brooklyn, snowed in]