Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Video: New York City in a Blizzard, 1902

Friday, January 30, 2015

Isabella reporting,

By now everyone has heard how New York City was braced for a monumental blizzard that never happened (though the people to the north who did get walloped would have appreciated NYC taking their share of the snow first.)

This short film, however, shows a storm that did materialize, over a hundred years ago. Filmed on February 17, 1902,  the clip offers a panorama of Madison Square, and with it, a sweeping impression of a busy city street at the turn of the 20th century.

Clearly there are no crosswalks or traffic signals, with people freely wandering about in the street, even if it means dodging street cars, horses, carriages, and dogs. Early into the clip, there's even a horse-drawn fire apparatus racing towards the camera, with the team of horses slipping in the snow. Snow is piled everywhere, and without plows, there are men with shovels - none of whom seem to be working particularly hard. Really, there's so much packed into these couple of minutes, that each time you watch it you'll discover something else.

New York City in a Blizzard, February 17, 1902, directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. Library of Congress.


Anonymous said...

My thanks to you all for sharing so many interesting and varied bits of history. I always enjoy visiting and especially look forward to your Sunday breakfast links. Cheers, Ardith

Mantelli said...

Awesome! I haven't been able to document it, but my Mom (born in 1912) told me that my grandfather acted in some short films for Edison when he was a young man.

Bashuuk said...

Thank-you for this short film it is amazing! I had a real sense of how it must have been to negotiate crossing the road in these times and in the snow, doubly dangerous along with having to handle long wet skirts!
Please keep finding these glimpses of a bygone era. Love them.

Anonymous said...

Seeing those men with the shovels *not* shoveling snow made me wonder if perhaps they were always there to shovel the horse manure, regardless of the weather?

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

That's possible, Hanneke. I don't know how you'd distinguish between a shovel for shoveling snow vs. one for shoveling manure. There are other photographs from other snow storms in NYC showing men clearing the streets by shoveling snow into wagons, which were then taken down to the river and dumped into the water - which must have been a very slow process indeed!

I've also read that for really large snow storms, older boys were excused from school to help shovel. So who knows - some of the "dawdlers" here might have been errant school-boys. ;)

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