1911 Heat Wave

Location: New York City, NYS, USA

In July 1911, a heat spell in Eastern North America lasted 11 days hovering over the 100°f  mark. In New York City many were hospitalized and 146 died. A large percentage of the deaths were the elderly and labourers working outdoors in the incessant heat. Drinking fountains long out of use were ordered to be turned on by the Park Commissioner despite the fact that there had been little rain and a water shortage was threatened.

Even the deer in Central Park suffered, and when two deer sheltering under a tree collapsed they were brought to the Park Keeper’s quarters and were revived with the use of brandy.

600 horses died. Ten animals collapsed every hour of the working day for almost a week in Manhattan and the Bronx. They started the day healthy, and after an hour or more in the blazing sun they collapsed. Many delivery men returned to the cart to find one or both horses dead; some leaning hard against their harness partner. So many of them died in the street where they stood that there were few healthy animals available to haul the carcasses away.

The heat wave caused a financial strain on the city, and buckled railway lines causing derailments. The oppressive heat finally ended with a severe thunderstorm that killed an additional 5 people.

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