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Thread: At 1 Degree, a Metropolis Is Also Frozen in Time

  1. #1

    Default At 1 Degree, a Metropolis Is Also Frozen in Time

    January 17, 2004


    At 1 Degree, a Metropolis Is Also Frozen in Time


    A view of Manhattan from aboard a ferry that runs between Weehawken, N.J., and Midtown. The temperature Friday morning was 1, matching a record that was set in 1893.

    Beginning around midnight and lasting for a few fleeting hours, the official temperature of Manhattan dropped to 1 degree. By 4 in the morning, the temperature had doubled — to 2 — but that brief 1-degree period granted curious distinction to the day: it tied the record for the coldest Jan. 16 in city history, a mark established in 1893.

    In one sense, this seems the slimmest of connections between days separated by 111 years. In another sense, though, there was odd comfort in knowing that this very cold was felt on this very day in this very city, at a time when a Tammany Hall lackey named Gilroy was mayor, and the economic calamity known as the Panic of 1893 was but months away.

    This fleeting bond between two eras that bracket the 20th century was explored during a rough circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan in the morning hours when the temperature clung to 1. True, the experience was more often seen than felt, through the salt-encrusted windshield of a black sedan. But that sedan sometimes rocked to the rhythms of gusts, just one of the many ways that nature reiterated its timeless point: that even a great metropolis must give deference.

    By 12:30 a.m., ice-sharp winds from the Northwest were dodging the edifices of Midtown to send streetlights swaying like buffeted piñatas, as if to suggest how easily nature can toy with us. It was as good a hint as any to stay indoors, and yet here came a deliveryman on a bicycle, wobbling down Lexington Avenue while on his handlebars he balanced a box containing someone else's pizza.

    The gothic building that once housed the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital loomed over the intersection of First Avenue and 30th Street; though ancient in appearance, it had yet to be built in 1893. A city shelter now, it was providing beds at this moment to several hundred men, a chilling thought made all the colder by the knowledge that behind the building were refrigerated trucks with the unidentified and unclaimed remains of World Trade Center dead.

    On First Avenue near 56th Street, a steam pipe jutted like the Cat in the Hat's hat from the middle of the mostly deserted street; white plumes poured out, as though the only heat to be found at this hour was emanating from the earth's molten core.

    It was not a night to strike up casual conversation with the few spirits darting in and out of the elements. A worker at a Department of Sanitation depot on the Upper East Side gave little more than a grunt as he shoveled rock salt onto a glazed sidewalk. A deliveryman for Poland Spring quickly shared that some of the water in his truck's hold was indeed frozen solid, and then he rolled up his window as fast as he could.

    Occasionally, these breath puffs of human interaction reflected an unshakable trust in the urban machinery. Just north of a Harlem park named after Marcus Garvey, who turned 6 in 1893, a man stood rock-still in a bus shelter whose transparent shields shivered in the wind. "It's coming," he said of his bus. "I see it coming."

    Exchanges like these were few, though, because it takes two to talk. Other than the dodges of taxicabs and the crawl of the occasional police car, the only movement came from the knotted, garbage-filled bags that scuttled across streets to the whims of the winds that had liberated them.

    Along a deserted northern stretch of Riverside Drive, where the roadway rises to meet the western hillocks of Manhattan, the winds whistled across the Hudson River to rattle the chains that hung Marley-like from a West Side Highway billboard, and to cause an unsettling banging sound - rope against flagpole? - at ghostly Grant's Tomb. The tomb was under construction in 1893.

    "It's 1 degree and clear in Midtown," a radio news broadcaster said, delivering an assessment that was truer than he might have realized. At 2:30, the gaudy video graffiti that moves across the buildings of Times Square - the network plugs, the zipper news, the chewing gum come-ons - played to an audience of none.

    The black sedan grumbled south, past the ice-coated plastic flaps of greengrocers; past a single, underdressed woman hugging herself on a corner in the meatpacking district (what was she waiting for?); past ground zero, set aglow like New York's eternal flame.

    At 3 in the morning, with the temperature at 1 and the wind-chill factor making it feel like minus 20, the bottom of this crowded, swarming island was as desolate as the surface of Mars. Two visitors violated the stillness by trying to walk to the Hudson River at Battery Park, but were given the bum's rush by the muscular wind. It pushed them back to that black car like a bouncer who would not take no for an answer.

    The wind was not as forbidding near the ferry terminal, at Manhattan's southern tip. But the water was: a murky gray, it chopped about the harbor, taunting anyone who might wonder how it calls some to its icy embrace, and not others.

    Above New York Harbor hung a crescent moon that dangled like the smile of the vanishing Cheshire cat. It was 3:30 and 1 degree out. Time for anyone still out there to come in from the cold.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Manhattan - South Village


    The Icy Hudson River - Jan. 2004

  3. #3


    Spectacular. Too bad you weren't on the other side of the river...

  4. #4
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    Would that ice have been thick enough to walk across?

  5. #5


    Circle Line ships at Pier 83 and Hudson River in ice. 19 January 2004.

  6. #6
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    Would that ice have been thick enough to walk across?
    Not all the way. About 50 feet beyond the end of the piers the ice was in motion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Weiland
    Too bad you weren't on the other side of the river...
    I know, much better photo op, but I wouldn't have made it that far. My camera and I were freezing our asses off.

  7. #7


    January 21, 2004

    City Streets Provide a Version of Old-Fashioned Ice Capades


    It was one of those days when it was indeed advisable to walk on the sunny side of the street. After a spate of winter weather, many sidewalks and roadways - especially those the sun could not reach - were covered with a thick layer of ice, making them more suitable for curling than for walking or driving.

    Shady stretches along walkways, particularly around bus shelters and parks and in front of abandoned property, were treacherous, as temperatures that never went higher than 27 degrees sealed in the icy precipitation that had fallen over the last week. People were slipping, sliding and falling.

    "Orthopedists have been very busy," said Bruce Lander, a spokesman for St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan. Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn reported treating twice the number of ice-related slip-and-fall cases yesterday as on a typical day.

    In several neighborhoods, whole blocks were covered with ice from end to end.

    The ice on one of those stretches, in front of a shopping center parking lot on Broadway between 234th and 235th Streets in Kingsbridge, the Bronx, made reaching the bus shelter on the corner a challenge.

    "With boots or without boots, you can go skating," said Massimo Grullon, 55, who was wearing boots and sliding his way to a nearby park for an afternoon walk.

    Cesar Morales, 23, a student at Manhattan College in Riverdale, slipped about midway through the block but smiled when he got up. "I'm used to pain," he said, showing off his tattooed arm. His bottom lip and ears were pierced and, he said, both arms and his back are covered with tattoos.

    Several wobbling pedestrians on an ice-covered block of Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen were hoping to cash in on the situation, joking about taking a dive and filing a lawsuit. But whom would they sue? In September, a new city law went into effect that shifted the liability for many slip-and-fall cases from the city to property owners.

    "You have a responsibility to the people that are walking in your building, in front of your building," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday. "You know, the city can't do everything. People have to be responsible for themselves."

    Some business owners were being extra careful. Jose Luis de Los Angeles, 38, whose sister owns Botanica San Lazaro in Washington Heights, which sells statues of saints and other religious objects, was hacking the ice off the curb in front of the store. "If I don't clear it, I'll get a ticket," he said.

    There are certain positions that can prevent falls, said Milton Feher, 91, a former Broadway dancer and head of the Milton Feher School of Dance and Relaxation, which offers a course on walking on ice and snow: "Bend your knees, bend forward, so that if you fall, you don't fall back and hit your head. On every stride, make sure there's a moment where you feel both feet are grounded," he said.

    But Marcy Dupree, 50, who was navigating an icy patch on 145th Street in Manhattan, put it more simply: "You just pray if you're walking - pray that you don't fall."

    Ann Farmer and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  8. #8


    I don't know how many times I've almost fallen on my ass in the past few days... :x

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    People are really wiping out HARD - dropping left and right.

  11. #11


    January 26, 2004

    So How Cold Is It in New York City? Just Ask This Native Icelander


    Petur Oskarsson knows all about cold. He is from Iceland, where reindeer wander the tundra and icebergs drift on the horizon.

    But yesterday, as he walked among the swaddled and whimpering pedestrians of Midtown Manhattan, he seemed thoroughly impressed by the local weather.

    "I've never in my life been as cold as I am here in New York," he said, raising his eyebrows and pulling his fleece headgear a little tighter.

    It is not that it doesn't sometimes get much colder in parts of Iceland, said Mr. Oskarsson, who has spent four years working in New York as the trade commissioner at the Icelandic Consulate General. Even by New York standards, the recent temperatures in the city have not, for the most part, been record-breakers.

    What is unusual is for the cold to last this long.

    "We just don't get this kind of cold for three weeks at a time in Reykjavik," Mr. Oskarsson said of the Icelandic capital, his home.

    New York's temperatures have been below the usual January lows of 22 or 23 degrees Fahrenheit every day since Jan. 6, said Paul Knight, a meteorologist at Penn State University. That is a longer cold snap than New York has had since 1994, and before that, one has to go back to 1977 and 1978 for a similar stretch of harsh weather, Mr. Knight said.

    Thanks to the ice in the streets, alternate-side parking rules have been suspended for a week and are expected to be suspended again today, said Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation.

    The temperature is expected to rise into the 30's this week, with some snowfall today and Tuesday, Mr. Knight said.

    In practical terms, the extended cold has meant that New Yorkers cannot simply stay inside, cursing and waiting out the weather for a day or two. The fact that it was 14 degrees in Central Park at noon yesterday might once have seemed a freakish aberration. Now it has become the norm.

    To give an Icelandic view of the cold, Mr. Oskarsson agreed to tour the streets of Midtown yesterday with a reporter. He was dressed in his standard winter gear: fleece hat, black Icelandic shell over two layers of fleece, ski gloves and long johns under his blue jeans.

    "People talk constantly about the weather in Iceland," Mr. Oskarsson, a blond, rosy-cheeked man of 35, said as he passed a digital sign on Sixth Avenue about 2:30 p.m. that said the temperature was 16 degrees. "As a fishing community, it was always a huge part of people's lives."

    In that sense, New York has begun to follow suit. It is hard to walk a block without hearing a few soliloquies about the cold.

    Despite its name, Iceland is not all that cold, at least not in Reykjavik, where most of its roughly 300,000 people live. The Gulf Stream keeps temperatures in the 30's most of the winter, Mr. Oskarsson said.

    New York, by contrast, does not have an icy reputation. To some tourists who ventured outdoors yesterday, that has become a sore point.

    "I've been here three days, and I've never been so cold," Lee Chapman, a visitor from London, said as he stood shivering near the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, with only a thin wool hat and no gloves. "We would've gone walking in Central Park, but instead we've mostly been sitting in bars and coffee shops."

    His companion and fellow Londoner, Emma Robertson, agreed. "Now, if people ask me what is the coldest place I've ever been, I'll have to say New York City," she said.

    The weather is hardest on those who work outdoors. Ibrahim Ahmed, who mans a kebab cart on 50th Street and Sixth Avenue, hovered yesterday near his grill, his back protected from the wind by a white canvas sheet. He had been out since 6:30 a.m. and was not going home until 5 p.m.

    "The worst thing in this business is your feet," he said, glancing down at his heavy black boots. "Your hands, your chest, you can warm, but my feet are very cold."

    He has one secret weapon, he added: his wife, an Eskimo who was born in Alaska and who advises him about layers of clothing and socks.

    It also helps to maintain some perspective. It may not have been so cold in Iceland, but it was 18 below zero yesterday in Deadhorse, on Alaska's northern coast, and on Saturday night it got down to 40 below. The sun rose just above the horizon around 11 a.m. Alaska time and set around noon.

    That kind of cold can keep people indoors and drive them into depression, said Monica Millard, who works at the reception desk at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel in Deadhorse. But Ms. Millard, reached by phone yesterday, had a few words of advice for New Yorkers, in the event that the cold snap lasted any longer.

    "Don't let yourself become a recluse," she said. "Bundle up and go outside and enjoy it."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  12. #12


    January 27, 2004

    Neither Warm Mud Nor Hot Sauce Can Cure This Cold


    Medical experts warn that as hypothermia sets in, brain function deteriorates. Hence Ercia Martinez's explanation for why she was wandering the aisles of the Old Navy store on 33rd Street in Midtown yesterday sorting through shorts and light cotton tops.

    "I'm trying to get ready for the winter," she said.

    Researchers have also noted that in the final stages of hypothermia a phenomenon they call "paradoxical undressing" sets in, in which the victim irrationally sheds layers of clothing. But it turned out that Ms. Martinez, 20, a college student, was not at death's door. She had merely misspoken. "I meant the summer," she said.

    Still, as a drippy-nosed city endured its 13th consecutive day of freezing-or-below temperatures yesterday (the high in Central Park as of 7:30 p.m. was 22 degrees), signs of delirium were multiplying.

    The lost-and-found manager at Grand Central Terminal, Mike Nolan, reported that commuters were losing their winter accessories in record numbers. "We took 75 or 80 calls today about hats and gloves and scarves," he said, standing in front of overflowing boxes labeled "December - black fleece and leather gloves only" and "January - hats."

    "On a normal day, we get 30 winter calls," he said.

    Despite appearances, however, this did not seem to be a case of paradoxical undressing either. Linda Kogin, who came into the office in search of her hat, explained that she had simply fallen asleep on the 7:52 from Yonkers yesterday morning and did not realize the hat had slipped off till she left the train.

    Ms. Kogin, 55, was, in fact, almost deliriously happy to find her hat in one of Mr. Nolan's boxes. "It's my Land's End $29.98 fleece hat!" she cried.

    At Gonzalez y Gonzalez, a Mexican restaurant on lower Broadway, Ana Harris, the general manager, said that some ill-advised patrons tried to use hot sauce as a sort of topical antifreeze. "These guys here ordered extra habanero sauce on their food," she said, pointing to a couple of businessmen. "The thing they forget is that dry lips from the outside don't mix well with hot sauce."

    Of course, when the definition of sensible behavior expands to include walking around with baked potatoes in your pockets, thrusting your hands into the armpits of strangers and hanging out by dryer vents inhaling the warm Downy-scented air, it becomes hard to say what makes sense.

    Wrapping yourself in an insulating layer of mud like a hibernating turtle definitely makes sense. And Michelle Weatherwax, a reservationist at the Azure Day Spa in Chelsea, said that there had been an increase in requests for the self-heating mud wrap involving thermal blankets. "Generally we're doing a lot of scrubs and warm wraps right now," she said, "and a lot of hot stone massages and massages in general."

    Donna Evans, 47, a visual artist who lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, said the extended cold has forced her to confront her excess of material possessions. "When I see some clutter that bothers me, I can't run away outdoors," she said. "I'm willing to spend the day sorting through papers."

    Deborah Ross's wildlife drawing class at the School of Visual Arts was taking advantage of the cold-suppressed turnout at the Prospect Park Wildlife Center in Brooklyn to enjoy quality time with their subjects.

    "In the summer there's so many people around that the animals become numb to you," she said inside the "Animals In Our Lives" building as crickets chirped incongruously in the background. "In the winter they're happy to see you. The tigers are very approachable in the cold - they engage you, they'll look in your eyes. In the summer they're usually ignoring you.''

    One of Ms. Ross's students, Nelson Diaz, 20, had a brilliant red lory, a parakeet-like bird, all to himself. As he drew, the bird followed the motion of his arm through the glass, feinting at him. "I've never been to the zoo when it's this empty," Mr. Diaz said. "It's almost like you're having an interview with them."

    While today is expected to bring half a foot of snow or more, there is a silver lining of sorts. The high temperature could hit 28 degrees, said Geoff Cornish, a forecaster at Pennsylvania State University, which means that, barring winds over 10 miles an hour, the Real Feel temperature could rocket into the double digits.

    "It'll feel fairly mild after what we've been through," Mr. Cornish said.

    Ann Farmer and Jess Wisloski contributed reporting for this article.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  13. #13


    what if people started sayin, screw the bridge, and everyone just drove acroos the ice unstead. assuming people would do that, is it legal ?

  14. #14


    January 29, 2004

    Swamped by a 10-Inch Snowfall, and You Say This Is New York?


    After a 10-inch snowfall in New York, children, and some parents, took advantage of citywide school closings Wednesday to sled on the West Lawn at Fort Tryon Park along the Hudson River in Upper Manhattan.

    So a little snow fell.

    All right, more than a little — 10.3 inches in Central Park. That was hardly a record, but the city seemed to react as if it were. Schools closed. The United Nations shut down. Hundreds of airline flights were canceled. Even the Martha Stewart trial was called off for the day.

    And as people watched soap operas or dozed through an unexpectedly lazy day, some scratched their heads and wondered what had happened to the city that never sleeps, that never stops. There was not, they said, that much snow outside.

    "I think we wimped out," said Carol Peligian, an artist who lives in Manhattan and went to her studio in Long Island City, Queens, the same as always. "We're getting soft. We're less hardy. If it seems just a bit too inconvenient, people opt out. I'm not a cold-weather girl, I don't love the snow, but if the subways are running, why not go on and go to work? I think we're overreacting to everything. Or maybe we're just tired and think we need an extra day off."

    On a day when the sky was the dullish color of a pewter plate and the weak sun never managed to brighten the slush at the nearest corner, New York dug out from yet another snowstorm. Snow accumulations in the city since December have totaled 37.1 inches, already making 2003-04 the fifth snowiest winter on record.

    This storm, a fast-moving line of snow that Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service called "a classic nor'easter," began as commuters were straggling home on Tuesday and continued until after they were due back at work yesterday. Two inches an hour fell in some parts of the New York metropolitan region, and northeastern New Jersey was hit hardest. The heaviest accumulation, 12.2 inches, was reported in Bloomingdale, in Passaic County, while Elmwood Park, in Bergen County, was covered under 11 inches. So were Stamford and Cos Cob, Conn.

    Of the 10.3 inches recorded in Central Park, the amount that fell on Tuesday was 6 inches, half an inch less than the record for Jan. 27, set in 1894. But the 5 inches measured at Newark Liberty International Airport set a record there, the Weather Service said, easily topping the 1.9 inches recorded in 1963.

    On major highways leading into the city, traffic slipped and slid, and the shoulders were lined with cars that gave out or whose drivers gave up. The storm was blamed for dozens of traffic accidents. The Associated Press said that two people died near Buffalo in a collision involving a tractor-trailer, and at least a dozen cars were caught in a pileup near Concord, N.Y. No one was injured.

    The Sanitation Department, already $1 million over the $20 million budgeted for snow removal in 2003-2004 before the storm began, ordered 2,500 Sanitation Department workers to work 12-hour shifts and sent them into the streets with 2,000 salt spreaders, snowplows and garbage trucks with plows lashed to the front.

    "Anything that can have a plow attached to it that's movable, we had out," said Kathy Dawkins, a spokeswoman for the department. She said she had no estimates yet on what the department had spent since Tuesday.

    Some New Yorkers woke up to the scraping noises in the street and figured that yesterday would be just another day. They stuck to their schedules even after they opened the blinds and saw the curtain of snow outside.

    Jeffrey Banks, a men's wear designer, said he arrived for an 8:30 a.m. meeting in the Condé Nast Building in Times Square, only to discover that it had been canceled.

    "I didn't have trouble getting there," he said, "and I think New Yorkers pull through. You have something you have to go to, you get there, weather be damned, which is why I thought everybody else would be there, too."

    There were New Yorkers who said, in effect: Ten inches of snow? No big deal. New York City is somehow different, somewhat tougher, than suburbs that take lots of snow days. And in the suburbs, one cannot just hop onto a subway or hail a taxi.

    But there were those who said the city's routines had changed, that it had become less of a 24/7 kind of place, and that closing the schools reflected that.

    "What's happened is a very real cosmic shift in the attitude of New York, and that is, much to the disappointment of `The Apprentice' and Donald Trump, that business is not paramount," said Robbie Vorhaus, a communications strategist. "What is paramount is concern and caution, not the old neurotic, fear-based caution, but a real, powerful, positive, caring caution that says, `We don't know what the streets are going to be like, but they're not going to be good.' "

    Yesterday was the city school system's first snow day since March 5, 2001, when Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor and Harold O. Levy was chancellor. Yesterday was believed to have been only the third time since 1982 that schoolchildren were told the day before that they were getting a snow day.

    Explaining the decision, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg cited the city's experience on Jan. 15, when the schools stayed open as 2 to 5 inches of snow fell and the temperature in Central Park dropped as low as 5 degrees. "Last time, when we didn't close the schools, we had a 60 percent absentee rate," he said. "You're not doing a lot of teaching, and we had a very high numbers of teachers who couldn't make it in that day."

    Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein also said he had no second thoughts about calling off classes. "All of the reports were clear," he said. "Our families need to be prepared. You have got to make the tough decisions. We made the right one."

    But some parents, looking after children whose must-do activities for the day went from reading and writing to sledding and snowball throwing, were not so sure.

    "I think the kids should definitely have gone to school," said Jennifer Hopkins of Brooklyn, who has two girls in Public School 154, and a 6-month-old daughter. "It's hard to be cooped up in the house with all of them."

    The space problem was not her only complaint. There was also the time problem.

    "You're normally home just with the baby, who takes a nap, so you have a chance for a cup of coffee and to relax," she said.

    Yesterday, there was sledding in Prospect Park for an hour or so — but only an hour or so. "The rest of the day," Ms. Hopkins said, "you have to keep coming up with indoor activities to do to keep them from killing each other."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  15. #15
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    It did seem odd that schools closed yesterday, while they remained open in a seemingly more brutal storm a few weeks ago. I suppose this time it was easier given that high school students didn't have class anyway, but that can be replaced by the Regents, and rescheduling those is a pain in the neck.

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