1896 Eastern North America heat wave
There were 10 days of temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) with 90 percent humidity and little breeze. The temperatures did not drop at night. It caused more deaths than the 1863 New York City draft riots or the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. A majority of the deaths were of working-class men in their twenties that performed manual labor.
In New York City, while a majority of the government departments were slow to act in relieving the suffering of the citizens, a few did attempt to do so. The City Public Works commissioner ordered that his worker's shifts be modified so they would not work during the hottest part of the day, and had fire hydrants opened to cool the hot pavements of the street. In the Police Department, Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt organized an impromptu program of distributing free ice from police stations. After accidental deaths from people falling off the roofs they were sleeping on, the Parks Department was eventually persuaded to allow people to sleep in parks overnight so that they could escape the baking tenements.
- "The Heat Wave Of 1896 And The Rise Of Roosevelt". NPR. August 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. "During the summer of 1896, a 10-day heat wave killed nearly 1,500 people, many of them tenement-dwellers, across New York City. ..."
- Edward P. Kohn (2010). Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-01336-8.
- "Prostration and Death". Boston Globe. August 12, 1896. Retrieved 2012-03-09. "Startling List of Fatalities From the Excessive Heat. 22 Fatalities in Chicago. Maximum Temperature Was 93, and There Were 55 Prostrations Reported. 46 Deaths in New York. In Brooklyn 16 Fatalities are Reported, 10 in Hoboken, Seven in Jersey City and Four in Newark. Watch Works Closed. There Were 19 Prostrations from Heat in One Department of Big Waltham Factory Yesterday. Many Deaths in Providence. Laborers and Farm Hands Prostrated by the Heat. Work Suspended on the Public Works. One Resulted Fatally. Two Cases of Sunstroke Reported From Lawrence, Where It Was 100. One Man Dropped Dead. Two Others, Also Overcome by Heat, Died Shortly Thereafter. Total Number of Deaths 25. Four People Die at Newark During the Day. 45 Prostrated. Several More Expected. Eight Deaths at Washington During the Past Two Days. All Records Broken. Highest Temperature at Kansas City Was 96, the Lowest 81. Four Deaths in All. Two of the Victims in Baltimore Were Men and Two Women. Obliged to Stop Work. Almost Unbearable on Cape Cod."
- Armstrong, Henry E. (August 9, 1936). "Visitation of August, 1896, Caused 564 Deaths in the New York City Zone". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-30. "Forty years ago, that is to say early in August, 1896, a heat wave enveloped New York and in the following ten days struck down people in the streets and filled the hospitals with casualties. As many as 564 died in the metropolitan district."
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