New York City in snow: then and now - KMSP-TV

New York City in snow: then and now

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Even for those familiar with the national landmark in the background, the 1888 photograph of skaters on a pond in Central Park with the Dakota building looming on a hill in the background looks more like giant mansion on the prairie than the future New York City home of the front man for the greatest rock and roll band of all time. The same location a day after a storm 125 years later, the ice has melted and the trees have grown, but the view doesn't look terribly different.

Snow may prove the great equalizer for then-and-now photography. It looks the same on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 27th Street Friday as it did in 1905 -- even in black and white.

"At the turn of the century, most snow clearance was going to have to be done entirely by hand," New York City historian James Nevius told Fox 5.

Getting snow out of the city before the invention of the automobile took horse-drawn wagons, which proved messy in ways other than just logistics.

"Those horses left a lot of waste every day that was buried and you would've had to deal with it as you tried to get around the city," Nevius said.

Trudging through that mess led most turn-of-the-century New Yorkers to declare a snow day. But the world's future center of commerce boasted its fair share of workaholics then just as it does now.

"The most famous story was of New York Sen. Roscoe Conkling," Nevius said. "During the blizzard of 1888, it had been snowing and snowing and snowing. I think we ended up with 40 inches during that storm. And [Conkling] walked to work and walked home in it because he couldn't miss a day of work."

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