Dangerously Humid: 3 Die in NYC

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, July 16 – Friday, July 17, 1914:  Am having a hot time of it.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This is the second day of a two-day diary entry. New York City is about 125 miles east of McEwensville. Here’s what the New York Times had to say about the weather there on July 17, 1914.

Source: New York Times (July 18, 1914)

Source: New York Times (July 18, 1914)

The weather sounds oppressive—and dangerous. My favorite line in the article is:

There is a light southerly breeze at the Battery, but it as warm as if it had blown over the Sudan desert at Wadi Halfi. . .

Somehow high humidity and desert breezes don’t seem like they belong in the same sentence. . . but whatever. . . It’s a very graphic description. :)

18 Responses

  1. Yes, that is a great line!

  2. Living in NC, I can attest to the horrors of humidity. But at least we can escape it for a while with air conditioning. Can you imagine having no break from it at all — ever? Yikes!

  3. Isn’t that interesting that they gave names, ages, occupations and addresses of those who were overcome by the heat??? One died in his studio at Carnegie Hall!
    And I’ll have to research just what a “scalp specialist” was….
    Such a wonderful old article to find.

  4. It’s interesting those killed and harmed don’t seem to fit the profile of those we think of as susceptible to heat – they are young not elderly or children…

  5. Strange as it may sound, me living in Canada, I can also attest to the horrors of humidity. This summer is fine, because it’s cool [the worst has yet to come], but it’s usually brutal this time of year. The Bay of Fundy + two rivers, we’re the fog capital!

    Loved that line about the desert :D

  6. Yes, many people today don’t seem to realize the danger of heat and humidity.

  7. I don’t miss the intense humidity in Montreal, that’s for sure. It’s dryer here in the west.
    Diana xo

  8. Cities can be some of the most dangerous places during heat waves. They have a ‘heat island’ effect that worsens the conditions.

  9. This is so interesting! The writing style. The extra care needed for the horses. The lack of air conditioning. The apparent lack of awareness of the real danger of hot, humid weather. The listing of victims. A real feel for the history of the time.

  10. It probably was a good thing to live out in the country during a heat wave like that in those days. I can’t imagine being in a tight little apartment and no air conditioning.

  11. Enjoying a heat wave here for the past two days, but since temp expected to rise to 30 centigrade the News programmes are issuing Red Warnings this evening, elderly people I know already studying indoors… Just 2 summers ago we were suffering floods! I believe 1914 was a hot summer here as well, people were just getting uneasy about the possibility of war.. Then in August there worst fears were confirmed. I wonder if Grandma made many references to the news during the next few years? I will keep reading….

  12. Wow! What weather. Great you could track it down. Brilliant post, as always.

  13. How horrible summers could be a hundred years ago. No air conditioning! I remember those days from my childhood (not 100 years ago but almost) in Florida. Couldn’t sleep and the only relief was at the movies!

  14. Being without power for about 24 hrs last week I got just a small taste of what it would have been like and it was terrible! I can only imagine what it was like back then during intense summer heat with not even a fan and I am sure it was worse in the cities!

  15. The meteorologists often tell us that heat waves kill more Americans than any other type of natural disaster. We need to be very careful…

  16. I can’t imagine being in the city on a brutally hot day.

  17. Sheryl,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/07/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-july-18-2014.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  18. This week it has been very hot here and friends in other countries have been experiencing very intense heat. Some things weave their way through the decades in the same fashion, don’t they, while other things change? :)

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