1896 Eastern North America heat wave

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Peder Matthias Olsen (1849-1896) death certificate during the 1896 Eastern North America heat wave

The 1896 Eastern North America heat wave was a 10-day heat wave in New York City, Boston, Newark, New Jersey and Chicago that killed about 1,500 people in August 1896.[1][2][3]


There were 11 days of temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) with 90 percent humidity and little breeze.[4] The temperatures did not drop at night.[1] It killed more than the New York City draft riots and the Great Chicago Fire combined.[2] A majority of the deaths were of working-class men in their twenties who performed manual labor.

The New York City Public Works Commissioner ordered that his worker's shifts be modified so they would not be working during midday, and he had fire hydrants opened to cool people on the street. Theodore Roosevelt, the New York City Police Commissioner distributed free ice from local police stations. After accidental deaths from people falling off the roofs they were sleeping on, the New York City Parks Department allowed people to sleep in parks overnight.[1][2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "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. ... 
  2. ^ a b c Edward P. Kohn (2010). Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-01336-8. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ Armstrong, Henry E. (August 9, 1936). "Visitation of August, 1896, Caused 564 Deaths in the New York City Zone". The 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.