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Snow and the City

Washington Square Arch in a snowstorm.

Only three months into the year and we have already experienced four Nor’easters here in NYC! Though a definite inconvenience, snow is nothing new to New Yorkers, and many have stories and memories of other winter woes from years gone by and how that affected the city and their neighborhoods.  One Nor’easter that has stood out in the history of NYC is the Great Blizzard of 1888; this storm was one of the most severe blizzards to hit the United States and paralyzed the East Coast.  On this snowy first day of spring, we have pulled some pictures from our Historic Image Archive detailing the Great Blizzard and other scenes of snow in the Village.

West 11th Street and Waverly Place following the blizzard of 1888.
Horse-drawn snow plow in Washington Square Park.
Washington Square Park in Winter.
Fifth Avenue at 12th Street looking south.
Winter scene at the corner of East 9th Street.
12 West 4th Street.
Astor Library at 425 Lafayette Street.

As snow is a seasonal reality here in NYC, so too is the necessity for its removal.  This history of snow removal in NYC is also a fascinating look at infrastructure planning, technological innovation, and even political necessity.  Back in 2016, Dr. Robin Nagle, the DSNY’s anthropologist-in-residence and author of the book Picking Up, hosted a program for GVSHP called “Say It Ain’t Snow! How New York Battles Winter in the Village and Beyond,” and the video of it can be watched below.

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