Forget Juno, Look at These Wild Images of the Blizzard of 1888

Blizzard of 1888
A "photograph taken just after the storm," from the British Museum's collection. British Museum

There aren't any New Yorkers left who lived through the Great Blizzard of 1888, and maybe that's a good thing: They'd never shut up about it, especially on a day like today, with an epic snowstorm called 'Juno' about to land in the city.

More than 125 years later, the blizzard remains among the most severe the New York area has experienced, producing as much as 60 inches of snowfall in some places and towering snowdrifts of up to 40 feet. With the railroad and roads shut down for days, thousands of New Yorkers were housebound, and hundreds died.

"The 1888 [blizzard] is the one that whole books are written about. We have a whole collection of people remembering it 50 years later," Mariam Touba, a reference librarian at the New York Historical Society, told Newsweek last year. "It's the most remembered blizzard, even though it's not the most amount of snowfall. There were so many wires above ground, so it caused more than destruction than any other."

The historic timing was notable: The blizzard occurred recently enough that there were indeed plenty of overhead wires to cause tremendous damage (and newfangled cameras to capture the scenes), but far enough in the past that there was little protocol for dealing with such devastation, and not yet an underground subway system to use as refuge. Let's trek back through some surviving images of the storm.

Here, via Howard Glaser, a former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is what it looked like when New Yorkers were forced to cross from Brooklyn into Manhattan (or vice-versa) on an icy East River:

Brooklyn cut off from City in 1888 blizzard - people crossed east river on ice floe pic.twitter.com/uutKfws5KC

— Howard Glaser (@hglaser1) January 25, 2015

Snowdrifts were fighteningly high:

Nyc officially got 3 feet but drifts were several feet higher in many areas of the city Blizzard of 88 pic.twitter.com/y4K6TlPzYi

— Howard Glaser (@hglaser1) January 25, 2015

And when paths were cleared, there were bodies to be found underneath:

Dozens of bodies pulled from snowdrifts in Blizzard 88...when NYers went to work in the am, no idea what was ahead. pic.twitter.com/L4RasTcV4V

— Howard Glaser (@hglaser1) January 26, 2015

Here's a scene from the street, with dozens of falling or dangling wires:

1888
A photo from the Blizzard of 1888. Richard Arthur Norton/Public Domain

A scene from Park Place, Brooklyn:

1888
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

This is midtown Manhattan (near Grand Central) after the storm:

Manhattan
Grand Central. Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

A New York Times archival photo, location unknown:

21" of snow during the blizzard of 1888 prompted New York City to move its utility lines underground. (Photo: NYT) pic.twitter.com/t2dHlChJNR

— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) January 26, 2015

Here's a street being cleared after the storm:

Street
After the storm. British Library/Wikimedia Commons