New York’s blizzard of the ages

For North Americans, the winter of 1887-88 was an equal opportunity offender. The Midwest's worst snowstorm on record struck between January 12 and 14. Drifts topped 460cnV15ft and temperatures dropped as low as -47°C/-52°F. Some farmers in the Dakotas literally froze in their fields, and dozens of rural schoolchildren perished while walking home. Urbane New Yorkers looked with pity to the west, but their own crisis would come only a few weeks later. A rainy, spring-like morning on Sunday, March 11, turned into a three-day onslaught of snow, gale-force winds and bitter cold. At the height of the storm, Central Park stayed below-12°C/10°F for over 24 hours. More than 100cm/39in of snow blanketed the land from New Haven, Connecticut, to Albany, New York. Drifts piled as high as second-storey windows. Manhattan seemed to fall in on itself as snow-packed awnings and telegraph poles crashed to the ground. More than 400 people died, including some trapped in snowdrifts for days. One New York newspaper screamed, 'Now We Know What a Dakota Blizzard Is”. On the city's Third Avenue elevated train line, a storm-triggered accident injured more than twenty people. It was the last straw for many who'd been lobbying for underground lines to relieve congestion and noise.Thus was born the silver lining of the Blizzard of '88: New York's subway system.