Scenes From New York Snowstorms of Yore

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The great blizzard of 1888.
The great blizzard of 1888. Photo: Berttmann/Corbis

Someday far into the future, some robot historian will look back at how people of our age responded to snowstorms — the Instagrams, the GPS-tracked snowplows, the long lines at Trader Joe's — and find it all unbearably quaint. We know this because this is exactly how we felt reading stories in the New York Times archives about what life was like in New York during the snowstorms of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Here are some of the key takeaways:

People sometimes had no idea when snow was coming, which meant waking up with apartments filled with snow:

Consequently, nobody really blamed city officials for being unprepared:

Snow was a blessing for the city's unemployed population, which was hired to help clean up:

Child entrepreneurs also earned money by picking up hats for lazy gentlemen:

And huge crowds used to gather to watch people slip and fall on their asses:

That sounds way more entertaining than Netflix, no? A lot meaner though.