Historic photos of 1888 Great Blizzard hitting NYC, Hartford, DC

Xavier Roger


  • With snowfall reaching 40 – 50 inches and snow drifts between 30 – 40 feet deep, hundreds died.
  • The blizzard that became legendary to New Yorkers caused roughly $20 million in property damage.
  • One quarter of the U.S. population was affected by the storm which immobilized major eastern cities.

Beginning March 12, 1888, a destructive blizzard known as the “Great White Hurricane” buried the Northeast with up to 50 inches of snow over the course of three unrelenting days.

When the great storm that became a household word and symbol of the worst weather and “limit of nature’s possibilities” swept the east coast, horse cars, stagecoaches and trains from Delaware to Montreal came to a halt, according to the Connecticut State Library

As a result of the storm, fuel and food supplies dwindled, power lines snapped, trains were buried, and more than 400 people died, according to the National Weather Service. In New York City where 200 people alone died, some workers went to their jobs, became stranded and froze to death.

New York City on March 12,1888

“Monday morning, the severe rain that had been pelting down since the moment of the opening of the church doors suddenly changed to a sleet storm that plated the sidewalks with ice,” a news report said. “The cities were paralyzed.” 

People who dared to brave the outdoors were often swept off their feet by winds of at least 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. News reports described a wind that “howled, whistled, banged, roared, and moaned as it rushed alone.” 

Additionally, more than 200 ship vessels were destroyed by winds up and down the eastern seaboard, resulting in the death of 100 seamen.

New York City during Blizzard of 1888.
New York City house in the blizzard of 1888.


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