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Watch the First Ever NYC Blizzard Caught on Film

Not only is this the first ever film of a blizzard in the Big Apple, it is probably the first ever film of any American blizzard ever

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The weather in the northeastern United States is pretty terrible right now—an awful mix of snow and rain that turns the streets to slush and makes every step a risky move. Today, we get minute by minute updates on these kinds of things—where the storm is moving, how many people are stranded, and how our friends and family are feeling about it.

Of course, that’s not how it always was. In rural places, snow once meant almost total isolation, as the movement of people and media and transportation slowed to a near halt. Cities weren't always much better: an 1888 blizzard kept bread and milk carts from re-stocking shelves, and people spent the night in trains. The Bowery Boys uncovered this movie, of a 1902 blizzard. It's the first ever footage of a New York City blizzard. Here’s what they say about it:

Place: Madison Square Park (near 23rd Street), with the Worth Memorial in the background of some angles

Who made this? Edison Manufacturing Company. Their Manhattan studio was nearby, at 41 East 21st Street.

Who's the director? Edwin Porter, considered by most to be the first real movie director, inventing basic techniques used by subsequent filmmakers.

What are we seeing?  Trolleys, cabs, carriages and other unusual vehicles, braving the icy conditions and dodging pedestrians at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street.  At one point, you almost see a team of horses slide off the road!

The Flatiron Building, which would be in this shot today, hadn’t even been completed. And not only is this the first ever film of a blizzard in the Big Apple, it is probably the first ever film of any American blizzard ever. You can be at least a little thankful for better footwear than these people had. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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