Hot Time in the Old Town

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Edward Kohn discusses one of the worst natural disasters in American history—the 1896 New York heat wave, which killed almost 1,500 people in ten days. In Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, he tells how the heat coincided with a heated presidential contest between William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Their hopes for the presidency began to fizzle in the heat just as a bright young police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt was helping the city cope with the dangerously high temperatures by hosing down streets and handing out ice to the poor.


Edward Kohn

Comments [6]

Sandra from Astoria

Leonard, your comment about the Tea Party was right on!

A number of teabaggers believe that Teddy Roosevelt was when things started going wrong in this country because it was the beginning of progressivism.

I'm sure they would change their tune if they actually had to live through the Gilded Age.

Aug. 12 2010 01:17 PM
Henry from Katonah

TR was governor of NY for only 2 years? Pretty thin resume. He was clearly not qualified to be president! And only 42 years old (still the youngest to become president ) in 1901. What was the GOP thinking when they nominated him for VP ?

Aug. 12 2010 01:07 PM
Merrill Clark from New York

Interesting about this event, which evidently launched or accelerated TR's political career, and the subsequent flooding of the Mississippi, that launched Hoover's career, as chronicled in the excellent book: "The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America" by John M. Barry.

Aug. 12 2010 12:57 PM
Richard Johnston from Upper west side

The use of the historical present is pretentious and confusing, moreso when the user alternates between it and the simple past.

Aug. 12 2010 12:50 PM

What were things like air quality or water quality like then? I assume there was no car exhaust. But the streets were thick with horses. I guess coal and wood were widely used as fuel.

Aug. 12 2010 12:46 PM

It's not nice to make mother nature angry. Extreme Weather Experienced Worldwide.
These past few months have been filled with extreme weather in many parts of the world, and climatologists are trying to figure out what to make of it.

Aug. 12 2010 12:10 PM

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