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.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.