Although this blog focuses on New York's most important and interesting weather events, this post takes the opposite approach and looks at weather conditions during days of historical importance in New York. Besides the event itself, memories of the day's weather conditions are often a part of what people remember. What follows, in chronological order, are more than 75 events that have shaped New York's history since the late 19th century and a description of the weather conditions on these days.
Brooklyn Bridge Opens (May 24, 1883)
Under sunny skies temperatures were seasonably warm on this Thursday, with a high of 73° reported in Central Park. An estimated 150,000 people crossed the bridge today, which spans the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. (At the time of the bridge opening Brooklyn was an independent city, and not incorporated into New York City until 1898.)
Dedication Ceremony for The Statue of Liberty (Oct. 28, 1886)
The early morning hours on this Thursday were on the wet side as a storm that brought two inches of rain (much of if it falling the day before) exited. A ticker tape parade on Broadway during the morning (illustrated below) was followed by the dedication of the statue during lunchtime. Temperatures were seasonably chilly, with a high/low of 54°/47°.
An Unseasonable Chill Greets the Opening of Carnegie Hall (May 5, 1891)
It was a very chilly day, a Tuesday, when this institution of high culture opened on W. 57th St. The high/low of just 43°/34° was nineteen degrees colder than average and more typical of mid-March.
Fire & Sinking of the General Slocum on the East River (June 15, 1904)
1,021 perished, mostly women and children on what was supposed to be a Sunday pleasure cruise. This was the City's deadliest disaster until the 9-11 attacks. On this day skies were partly cloudy, with a high/low of 74°/57° (somewhat cooler than average).
First Line of Subway System Opens (Oct. 27, 1904)
It was a good day to ride the subway as it was unseasonably chilly, with a high/low of 47°/36°, ten degrees below average.
First Times Square Ball Drop (Dec. 31, 1907)
Under clear skies the temperature at midnight was 36°.
Queensboro Bridge Opens (March 30, 1909)
At the time this bridge had the distinction of being the first double-decker structure of its kind. The day it opened to traffic was a chilly one, with a high/low of 43°/36° and showers before daybreak that amounted to 0.17".
Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire (March 25, 1911)
146 workers, mostly young women, died in a sweatshop in Greenwich Village in which exits were locked by shop owners. The fire occurred late in the afternoon. The day, which had clear skies, started out quite cold, with a low of 20° (typical low was mid-30s). The high reached 40°.
The Carpathia Arrives With Survivors of Titanic (April 18, 1912)
The ship, with more than 700 survivors on board, arrived at Pier 54 near West 14th St. on a rainy and raw night (9:15 PM). Temperatures were stuck in the mid-40s all day (about fifteen degrees colder than average). Showers fell throughout the day, with 0.55" measured in Central Park.
The Woolworth Building Opens (April 24, 1913)
For thirteen years it was the tallest building in the world. The day was sunny and mild, with a high/low of 71°/57° (about ten degrees above average).
World War I Ends (Nov. 11, 1918)
The day of the signing of the armistice (in France) that ended World War I was overcast and a bit chillier than average, with a high of 49°/38°.
Bomb Explodes on Wall St. (Sept. 20, 1920)
A horse-drawn carriage with homemade bombs loaded onto it exploded at around noon, killing 36 office workers on their lunch breaks. The day was warm and breezy (77°/64°, six degrees above average), with clearing skies after an overcast morning.
Yankee Stadium Opens (April 18, 1923)
The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 on the strength of a 3-run homer by Babe Ruth. It was a somewhat chilly day, with a high/low of 52°/37° under variably cloudy skies.
First Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Nov. 27, 1924)
Sunny skies and temperatures in the 30s greeted parade goers. The day's high and low was a seasonable 49°/34°. (Helium-filled balloons came three years later.)
Ticker Tape Parade for Charles Lindbergh (June 13, 1927)
It was a beautiful day for a parade, with low humidity and a high/low of 77°/60° under mostly sunny skies.
Holland Tunnel Opens (Nov. 13, 1927)
It was a chilly day but skies were clear, with a high/low of 49°/35° (five degrees below average).
Jones Beach Opens to the Public (Aug. 4, 1929)
It was a cool day for the beach as the high/low was 75°/63° and it was breezy after a cold front moved through late in the morning; skies were partly cloudy. It was probably even chillier on the south shore of Long Island.
Black Tuesday (Oct. 29, 1929)
The day of the market crash on Wall St. that led to the Great Depression was a cold one, with a high/low of 49°/37° (seven degrees below average).
Chrysler Building Opens (May 27, 1930)
It had the distinction of being New York's tallest building for less than a year. The day of its opening was sunny and breezy, with a high/low of 65°/45°.
Judge Crater Gets Into Taxi in Midtown, Never Seen Again (Aug. 6, 1930)
It was a hot day with a high/low of 94°/76° (10 degrees above average), partly cloudy skies and low humidity.
Empire State Building Opens (May 1, 1931)
Conditions were somewhat chilly under sunny skies, with a high/low of 59°/41°, six degrees cooler than average.
George Washington Bridge Opens (Oct. 25, 1931)
For its first 31 years this bridge, connecting New Jersey with upper Manhattan, had just one level. The first day the structure was open to traffic the weather was windy and mild. Under partly cloudy skies the high/low was 72°/55°.
Radio City Music Hall Opens (Dec. 27, 1932)
New York's dazzling citadel of entertainment, and home of the Rockettes, opened on a dreary day. The high/low was 41°/37° and 0.60" of rain fell between 2 PM-midnight.
Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center Opens (Christmas Day, 1936)
The famed rink opened on a mild day. Under skies that were a mix of sun and clouds the high/low was 56°/40°, fifteen degrees above average.
World's Fair Opens in Flushing Queens (April 30, 1939)
Despite what Wikipedia reports, it was not "a very hot Sunday". The day's high/low was 62°/43° with an evening thunderstorm that dropped 0.07" of rain.
Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day Held at Yankee Stadium (July 4, 1939)
Even Mother Nature showed her appreciation by providing stellar weather conditions, with a high/low of 85°/65° under variably cloudy skies. (The Yankee superstar, who was debilitated by a neuro-degenerative disease that would be named for him died two years, just shy of his 38th birthday.)
New York Municipal Airport Opens (Dec. 2, 1939)
Later renamed LaGuardia in the early 1950s, the first day of operations was mild (high of 55°) with showers thru 10 PM that measured 0.35".
Military Plane Crashes Into Empire State Building (July 28, 1945)
On a foggy Saturday morning a B-52 bomber crashed into the 78th/79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing 11 in the building and three in the plane. Skies were overcast with sprinkles throughout the day and a light shower fell between 7-9PM. The high/low was a cool 71°/66°.
Commuter Trains Collide During Evening Rush Hour, Killing 78 (Nov. 22, 1950)
Shortly after 6:30 PM a Babylon-bound train crashed into a stalled train in a tunnel outside of the Kew Gardens station. It is still the deadliest crash in the history of the LIRR. The day, under partly cloudy skies, was on the chilly side, with a high/low of 43°/33°. This disaster occurred three days before one of the strongest nor'easters of the century struck.
Bobby Thomson Hits Pennant Winning Home Run for Giants (Oct. 3, 1951)
Thomson's 3-run shot against the Dodgers in the bottom of the 9th inning on a Wednesday afternoon gave the Giants a come-from-behind victory, and the National League pennant. The day was mostly cloudy with a high/low of 70°/63°.
Marilyn Monroe's Iconic Scene From "The Seven Year Itch" Filmed on East Side (Sept. 15, 1954)
Although it was depicted as a warm summer night, the day of filming (on Lexington Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets) was chilly and damp. The high was only 57° (18 degrees below average) and there were afternoon and evening showers that amounted to 0.16".
The Dodgers Bring First World Series Championship to Brooklyn (Oct. 4, 1955)
Skies were sunny and the temperature in the low 70s when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won the World Series after eight tries. And they did it against the Yankees (in seven games), making their championship even sweeter.
Yankees' Don Larsen Pitches Perfect Game In World Series (Oct. 8, 1956)
This history-making pitching performance took place in Yankee Stadium under clear skies with temperatures in the seasonable upper 60s.
Colts Defeat Giants in 'Sudden Death' OT To Capture NFL Championship (Dec. 28, 1958)
Played at Yankee Stadium, the game is often referred to as The Greatest Game Ever Played. It was played under mostly sunny skies, with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 40s.
Passenger Plane Crashes Into East River (Feb. 3, 1959)
Shortly before midnight an American Airlines flight from Chicago crashed into the East River. 65 of its 72 passengers and crew were killed. At the time of the crash it was raining, windy and the temperature was 38°. Interestingly, nearly 24 hours earlier (at 1 AM) the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper had crashed in Iowa.
Passenger Planes Collide Over Staten Island (Dec. 16, 1960)
A United Airlines and TWA passenger plane collided around 10:30 AM, with one crashing in Staten Island and the other falling into the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. All 127 passengers were killed as well as six persons on the ground. The day was raw and damp with a high/low of 40°/30° and morning showers between 6:00 and 1 PM (0.24" was measured). This disaster came four days after a snowstorm dumped 15.2" on the City.
Tears Then Cheers: Deadly Plane Crash Into Jamaica Bay Followed by Ticker Tape Parade for Astronaut John Glenn (March 1, 1962)
It was a peculiar day because of the swing of emotions caused by these two events. Shortly after 10 AM an American Airlines plane bound for LA crashed into Jamaica Bay a few minutes after take-off from Idlewild Airport, killing all 95 on board. Then a few hours later astronaut John Glenn received a hero's welcome in lower Manhattan after becoming the first American to orbit the earth. Weatherwise, a cold front moved thru during the morning and the temperature dropped from 42° to 17°. During the parade the temperature was in the 20s with wind chills in the teens.
Mets Play First Home Game (April 13, 1962)
The Mets lost the game to the Pittsburgh Pirates, played in unseasonably cold conditions, with a high/low of 43°/38° (nine degrees below average). Windy and overcast, there were showers before daybreak and again late in the afternoon, amounting to 0.13".
The Beatles Arrive in the US (Feb. 7, 1964)
John, Paul, George and Ringo arrived at JFK Airport (newly re-named after President Kennedy's assassination two months earlier) and performed on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later. The day was on the mild side, with a high/low of 47°/37°. It was mostly cloudy with AM showers (0.08").
Kitty Genovese Murdered (March 13, 1964)
The murder of the 28-year-old in her Queens neighborhood (where her cries were ignored by neighbors) occurred between 3:15 and 4 AM. During that time the temperature was 32°. Skies cleared during the daylight hours and the temperature rose to 49°.
World's Fair Opens in Flushing Meadow (April 22, 1964)
It was hardly ideal weather for the first day of the 1964 World's Fair as it was chilly, with a high/low of 47°/41 (11 degrees below average), and there were morning and evening showers that amounted to 0.15".
6-Day Harlem Riot Begins (July 18, 1964)
This was the first of the urban race riots that exploded in the US between 1964 and 1968. On the day rioting began the City was in the midst of a heat wave that saw temperatures in the low 90s. (This was also the summer in which three civil rights workers from New York were murdered in Mississippi.)
Three Civil Rights Workers from NYC Murdered in Mississippi (Aug. 4, 1964)
Today's beautiful weather (clear skies with a high of 81°) belied the mood of the City when news was received that the bodies of three missing civil rights volunteers from New York were found in shallow graves in Mississippi.
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Opens (Nov. 21, 1964)
The day was clear, breezy and cold, with a high/low of 45°/28° (eight degrees below average). Like the GW Bridge, the lower level of the bridge came five years later.
Malcolm X Assassinated in Harlem (Feb. 21, 1965)
Temperatures were in the upper 40s when Malcolm X was shot in the middle of the afternoon.
Beatles Perform at Shea Stadium (Aug. 15, 1965)
More than 55,000 saw the Beatles arrive via helicopter from Manhattan on a warm, sticky summer evening that featured clear skies and a dew point of 70°. Earlier in the afternoon the high reached 87° and the heat index was in the low 90s.
New York's First Blackout (Nov. 9, 1965)
When the lights went out at around 5:30 PM skies were clear and the temperature was in the mid-40s. A full moon made the nighttime darkness somewhat less foreboding.
12 Firefighters Die in Blaze on West 23rd St. (Oct. 17, 1966)
This was the greatest loss of life in the history of the the NYC Fire Department (until 9-11). Fireman arrived at the scene shortly after 9:30PM. Temperatures at the time were in the upper 40s and skies were overcast.
Students Take Over Columbia University (April 26, 1968)
After a chilly morning low of 42° the afternoon temperature rebounded to a seasonable 65°. Skies were clear.
"Broadway Joe" Namath Takes Jets to Super Bowl Victory (Jan. 12, 1969)
The game was played in Miami, but in New York it was a clear/cold day, with a high/low of 34°/20°. (Four weeks later the City was brought to its knees by the "Lindsay Snowstorm".)
Stonewall Riot (June 28 1969)
The day was hot and humid with a high/low of 96°/73° (11 degrees above average). The first round of rioting began shortly after midnight when temperatures were in the mid-70s. More trouble arose later in the evening when the temperature was still in the sultry upper 80s.
The "Miracle Mets" Win the World Series (Oct. 16, 1969)
The Mets won the World Series over Baltimore in five games. Game 5 was played at Shea Stadium on a day with afternoon temperatures in the seasonable mid-60s under a sky that was a mix of sun and clouds.
Bomb Levels Greenwich Village Townhouse, Killing Three (March 6, 1970)
A bomb being assembled by members of the radical Weather Underground, who were tenants of the building on West 11th St., went off shortly before noon. The day was overcast and chilly, with a high/low of 40°/34°.
First New York City Marathon Held (Sept. 13, 1970)
This first race took place in Central Park (runners ran around it five times) under bright sunshine and warm temperatures. Although the morning low was a chilly 58°, when the race got underway the temperature had risen into the low 70s. During the afternoon it warmed to 80°.
Bank Robbery/Hostage Standoff Later Becomes Hit Movie (Aug. 22, 1972)
The movie was Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. The event occurred at a Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn. The day was mostly sunny and warm, with a high of 86°/65°.
World Trade Center Opens (April 4, 1973)
The high/low of 75°/53° was eleven degrees above average. Early AM thunderstorms dropped 0.61" of rain.
Daily News Headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead" (Oct. 30, 1975)
This pertained to the City's dire financial straits and Ford's response to a request for a federal bail-out. The famous headline appeared the morning after this meeting. Temperatures fell throughout the day, from 58° (seasonable) to 33° (12 below average). After light showers before 7 AM skies became partly cloudy.
Bomb Explodes in Locker at La Guardia Airport, Killing 11 (Dec. 29, 1975)
This act of terror occurred in the evening of a sunny and cold day (high/low of 37°/25°).
Helicopter Crashes Atop Pan Am Building (May 16 1977)
After a seasonable low of 52° the high rose to 82°, eleven degrees above average under variably cloudy skies.
New York Suffers 2nd Blackout (July 13, 1977)
It was a hot day, the first of a blistering nine-day heat wave. After a high of 93°, the temperature was in the mid-80s when the power went out at 9:30 PM.
"Son of Sam" Arrested (Aug. 10, 1977)
Serial killer David Berkowitz was arrested after terrorizing the City for more than a year. On the day of his arrest the high/low was 86°/71°, with a shower between 7-8 PM (0.07").
Etan Patz Disappears (May 25, 1979)
An overnight thunderstorm between 2:30-4 AM dumped 0.57" of rain and the rest of the day was overcast. After a low of 62° (five degrees above average) the high only rose to 67° (seven below average).
Yankee All-Star Catcher Thurman Munson Killed in Plane Crash (Aug. 2, 1979)
News of Munson's death came late in the afternoon on a hazy, hot and sticky day with evening showers. The high reached 91° and the dew point was in the low 70s all day.
John Lennon Murdered (Dec. 8, 1980)
With a high/low of 64°/46° this was the mildest day of the month (18 degrees above average). When Lennon was shot the temperature was still in the low 60s.
Diana Ross Gives Free Concert (July 21, 1983)
This event is largely remembered for its weather conditions. A series of severe thunderstorms followed a hot/humid day and forced cancellation of the concert an hour after it started. After a high of 95°, more than two inches of rain fell between 6 and 10 PM. The concert was rescheduled for the following day and weather conditions were perfect, with sunny skies, low humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s.
Bernhard Goetz Shoots 4 Subway Muggers (Dec. 22, 1984)
The incident occurred on the Number 2 train in the West Village on a Saturday afternoon. It was a mild day, with a high/low of 60°/43°, eighteen degrees above average. (A week later the temperature would soar to 70°.)
Bill Buckner's Error Gives Mets Improbable World Series Win (Oct. 26, 1986)
Game 6 of the World Series between the Mets and Red Sox was played at Shea Stadium on 10/25, but it was past midnight when the Mets won on a ground ball that went through first baseman Bill Buckner's legs. The weather at the time was overcast with a temperature in the low 50s. Game 7 was scheduled for later that day but it was rained out.
'Happyland' Fire Kills 88 (March 25, 1990)
The arson fire at this illegal social club in the Bronx was started by a disgruntled boyfriend and was the City's deadliest fire since the Triangle Shirtwaist inferno in 1914. On this day the high/low was 49°/34° under partly cloudy skies.
Nelson Mandela Honored with Ticker-Tape Parade (June 20, 1990)
The world-renowned political prisoner was released from prison in South Africa in February after 27 years. The weather on the day of the parade was pleasant with a high/low of 80°/62° under a sky of mixed sun and clouds.
First Bombing of World Trade Center (Feb. 25, 1993)
It was a very cold day, with a high/low of 27°/21°, twelve degrees below average. Skies were overcast with snow showers when a truck bomb exploded in a parking garage during lunchtime.
Deranged Passenger Guns Down LIRR Commuters (Dec. 7, 1993)
Colin Ferguson opened fire on the 5:33 PM train out of Penn Station to Mineola, killing six and wounding nineteen. The day was sunny and on the mild side for December, with a high of 50°/40°.
Crash of TWA Flight 800 (July 17, 1996)
This flight to Paris from JFK mysteriously exploded shortly after take-off in the early evening. It was a beautiful summer day, with a high/low of 87°/74° under mostly clear skies.
9-11 Attacks (Sept. 11, 2001)
After uncomfortably warm and humid conditions (with late afternoon and evening thunderstorms) the day before, Sept. 11 dawned clear and pleasant, with low humidity and seasonable temperatures (high/low of 81°/63°).
American Airlines Flight 587 Crashes in the Rockaways (Nov. 12, 2001)
The crash occurred minutes after take-off from JFK and killed all 260 on board (and five on the ground), making it the second deadliest crash on US soil. When it occurred, shortly after 9 AM, skies were clear and the temperature was in the low 40s.
New York's Third Blackout (Aug. 14, 2003)
It was clear and hot (91°) when the power went out in the middle of the afternoon (a Thursday).
Miracle on the Hudson (Jan. 15, 2009)
US Air Flight 1549 made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in the middle of the afternoon on a very cold day. After an inch of snow fell in the morning, skies had cleared. The high/low of 22°/15° was thirteen degrees below average.
The High Line Opens (June 9, 2009)
A lot of rain fell the morning of the opening of the first portion of the High Line, the elevated park in Chelsea. In just fifteen minutes time, 0.75" of rain thundered down between 2:41-2:56 AM. Rain continued until 8 AM and totaled 1.80".
Non-Essential Businesses Closed Due to COVID-19 (March 23, 2020)
Conditions were raw and rainy on the first full day in which all non-essential businesses in New York City (as well as the rest of the state) were ordered closed as COVID-19 ran rampant. 1.16" of rain was measured in Central Park, and the high/low was 41°/36°. This was the rainiest day of the month and one of just a handful of days with below average temperatures.
US President Encourages Insurrection Against US Government (Jan. 6, 2021)
Tranquil weather conditions in New York belied the turmoil this afternoon in Washington, created by Donald Trump, who, at a rally, incited his followers to storm a joint session of the US Congress certifying Joe Biden's election as president of the US. Under fair skies, temperatures in Central Park were slightly above average, with a high/low of 41°/34°.