Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Plight of Winter Wonderland: Part I (c)

By Miriam B.Medina

(Continued from page: 3)

Of course, the usual flow of passengers arrive at lower Manhattan by ferries from New Jersey, Brooklyn and Staten Island, making haste in order to attend to their responsibilities at the Stock Exchange or other places of business in the Wall Street district. For the postal clerk, their day was mostly a flurry of action, a hurry-scurry mad dash to get the mail out in a timely manner. Many of the immigrants, who could afford to start a brick and mortar business, went into the push-cart business. The poorer the man was, the earlier he would have to get up to go to work to compete. So at the crack of dawn, the horse wagons would find their way to the city markets, to purchase their supply of meats from the wholesalers, including fish, fruits, vegetables and groceries. Push-cart vendors, horse-wagons, all other vehicles and pedestrians would fight for space to operate on the crowded streets. Those who were not in the push-cart retailer business would change their apartments into sweat shops. The unlucky ones would walk miles through all kinds of weather conditions to and from their places of employment.

During the day, the elevated railroads were all present and running on schedule. At least 25,000 passengers or more a day would avail themselves by this means of travel from downtown to Harlem. Society ladies, dressed in their finest, would be out in full force, shopping at the attractive retail stores along Broadway and Seventh Avenue. The horse cars, similar to an omnibus pulled by two horses, would be crowded with talkative and disorderly passengers. Hundreds of girls and women of all nationalities in New York earning their living by dancing in the ballets of the various theatres and they would also merge with the work-force. These already worn out, tired, and hollowed eyed ballet dancers would get up by 8 (o'clock) in the morning and rush off to rehearsal by 9 for a grueling workout in preparation for the evening performance. The saloons throughout the city were packed with regular patrons. It was still a man's world in the saloons, where they would always find a warm welcome and a warmer shot.

Such was a typical day in the life of New York City's inhabitants until the blizzard of March 12-14, 1888, which had taken everyone by surprise, swept over the entire metropolis, paralyzing the city under its crushing blanket of ice and snow, paralyzing transportation and communication. In part 2 of this 2 part series will explore the blizzard of 1888 and its disastrous effects upon New York City and its inhabitants.

Part II (a)

Miriam B. Medina is an Expert Author at Platinum level at

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