when the heat came and the sun on the pavements began to look
white…the breath from the streets was such that no one knew
which was worse, the hot, foul air outside, or the close foul airinside.
In some areas of New York, conditions were especially gritty during the
dog days of summer: ―The huddled and packed crowds on the east side…live
in the street, sleep on the roofs, and endure the
heat in silence,‖ wrote a young member of one of New York‘s founding families in a memoir that contains few
other criticisms of his beloved home.
The lower east side was ablaze during the heat wave of 1896, so ColonelGeorge Waring opened his heart and
the city‘s fire hydrants to the huddledmasses. New York‘s newly appointed Commissioner of Street Cleaning ordered
the streets flushed daily in an effort to sanitize and cool the city.
the success of Colonel Waring‘s efforts, the nearly 7,000
lbs of horse manure
and 160 gallons of horse urine that littered New York‘s streets daily left the
reek of decay throughout the overheated metropolis:
The effect of…temperature upon the refuse and filth of thestreets, courts and alleys…the air in close p
laces, in the tenementhouses, and upon the tenants themselves is soon
perceptible…foul gases of decomposition fill theatmosphere…and render the air of… unventilated places stifling;
while languor, depression and debility falls upon the populationlike a widespread epidemic.
Still, not everyone gagged and wilted in the summer heat. Newpapers
describe ‗heat refugees‘ who left for the seashore or the mountains, and