Above: Children turn a Lower East Side excavation site into a pool using water from a fire hydrant. 1936. Image via Bowery Boys
Last week, temperatures in New York City peaked in the mid 90s but with the humidity index, afternoon to early evening temperatures felt more like 105 to 113 degrees. The combined temperature and humidity index prompted an “excessive heat warning” for the city and sent most residents indoors to take refuge in air conditioned homes and workplaces. For those less fortunate, the city opened designated cooling centers. Under such dire conditions, it’s natural to wonder, what was summer like before the invention of air conditioning?