The most rainfall ever recorded in NYC fell on September 23, 1882

Posted On Wed, September 20, 2017 By

Posted On Wed, September 20, 2017 By In City Living, History

A rainy NYC day, photo courtesy of dalioPhoto on Flickr

While it appears New York City avoided much of Hurricane Jose’s wrath this week, experiencing only slight showers and mild winds, New Yorkers weren’t as lucky on an autumn day in 1882. According to the National Weather Service, Sept. 23, 1882 is considered the rainiest day in New York City’s history, with 8.28 inches of rainfall recorded (h/t NY Times). As a Times article reported from the record-setting wet event: “Umbrellas were useless, and most of the thin rubber over-garments proved of little service in excluding the drenching, penetrating streams which hit the wayfarer from above and below, and, for that matter, in front and behind as well.”

The torrential downpour had residents vacating all of the city’s stores and bars. Police had to rescue residents in the Bronx after the houses by Valentine Avenue after they were flooded by four feet of water. Streets filled with so much water the Times article described them as “huge lakes.” According to the article, “the gutters kept running torrents; the water-spouts and the overflow from eaves, awnings, and other projections were miniature Niagras.”

Even Third, Sixth and Eighth Avenues and along the Bowery, hubs of activity, were deserted. “The constant drip was dispiriting even to the habitues of the bar-rooms and the music gardens, and beer and more active stimulants did not prove a sufficient inducement to wean them from their homes or other places of shelter.” In other words, not even alcohol could convince New Yorkers to leave their homes that day.

On that extraordinary rainy day, the Times spoke with the oldest person they could find to get some context for the amount of rainfall: “The ‘oldest inhabitant’ who was out last night had not a memory which went back to a time when he saw the streets so clean.”

[Via NY Times]


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