Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tales of the Blizzard -- of 1947

Warburton Avenue looking north from Williams Street. (click on any image for more information about the photograph)

You think we had a tough time a couple of weeks ago with 20.9 inches of snow? Well, the 26.4 inches that fell on December 26, 1947 hit New York much harder. “Metropolis Resembles Ghost City As It Digs Out of Record Fall” read one headline. Buses, cars, trains, subways – all were paralyzed, and 77 people lost their lives. As bad as conditions were in Hastings in 1947, the local shutterbugs were all out with their cameras, so we have a good record of what our village looked like. Here are four of the scenes they captured, along with snippets from the Herald Statesman newspaper put out the day after the blizzard.

“The city’s usually congested streets were still congested – but by lines of stalled automobiles, buses and trucks, bumper to bumper, stretching block after block. Other streets, piled high with drifts, were as deserted as country lanes.”

“The Hudson Tubes, which connect this city to New Jersey points via the tunnels under the Hudson River, the ferry houses, and rail and bus stations, were filled to overflowing and at one time the situation grew so grave that additional policemen were assigned to handle the anxious – and often stranded – crowds.”

“The city’s gala nightclub life was stifled by the transportation snarl. At Midnight only eight patrons were present at the usually noisy and gay Monte Carlo club, while the headwaiter at the swank Stork Club said business was ‘knocked out.’”

Main Street looking west toward the Palisades

“At one time officials of bus companies reported 2,000 vehicles “lost,” their whereabouts temporarily unknown.”

“Telephone communication also was almost completely paralyzed yesterday as a record-smashing volume of calls tied up all boards. A 20-minute or half hour wait sometimes resulted in an operator answering telephone but for the most part coin boxes brought no action.”

“Swamped with telephone calls, a Brooklyn firm that provides limousine service to hospitals for expectant mothers couldn’t operate its automobiles and tried to rent horses and sleighs. Police cars served as ambulances for several expectant mothers.”

“Even the cemetery was a welcome place of refuge last night. One group beat the storm by spending the night in the office of St. Mary’s Cemetery, Sprain Road.”

“Two detectives had nearly dug out their snow-bound car before discovering it was the wrong car.”

“Trains resumed running to and from New York at about 7AM today after the worst tieup in more than two generations. Only the strike of 1946 had stopped the trains completely since the Blizzard of 1888…. On the Hudson Division a train reached Harmon from New York about 6 o’clock this morning – just 12 hours late.”

"Mount Haines," the pile of snow dumped off the bridge during village cleanup by the D.P.W. and named after its chief, Melville Haines.

“Hastings had difficulty with its snow-clearing equipment. During the height of the storm, three of the four plows broke down.”

“Milk deliveries were just about halted. The Borden company said it got three trailers through from its pasteurizing plant in Mount Vernon and is going ahead with deliveries. Sheffield company reported it was concentrating wholely on house deliveries “to get milk to the children” and not paying attention to wholesalers, stores, etc.”

“The Liner Queen Mary, some of whose passengers brought their luggage to the pier aboard sleds, finally sailed at 4:25 A.M. today after the storm had delayed her departure nearly 12 hours.”

“The mailman’s slogan fell by the wayside in the day-after Christmas snowstorm of 1947. The snowstorm stopped mail deliveries in Yonkers today and no trucks and no carriers went out of the Yonkers Post Office… Carriers and trucks went out yesterday, in an effort to keep schedules but many were stranded and had not yet returned home by noon today…”

“A pair of skiers tried out their boards on fashionable Madison Avenue. There was skiing in Central Park, too, and up at Bear Mountain. Officials of Palisades Interstate Park were as joyful about the snow as local street-cleaners were glum. They predicted record crowds for Winter sports.”

Snow day on "Mount Haines." Sue Lindemann (later Staropoli) takes the plunge while Phyllis Schumm, Jimmy McCue, Bill Costello, Steve Ravinsky, and Jack Ayres look on.

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1 comment:

  1. That must be so scary! I would have been one of those 77 people! HAHA!