Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
BLIZZARD OF 1888, SUFFOLK TAVERN, PATCHOGUE
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Blizzard of 1888, Suffolk Tavern, Patchogue. (From the Vagts Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image © copyright Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
The Blizzard of 1888 was a powerful storm that raged for 72 hours in March of that year. Sometimes called the “Great White Hurricane,” the deadly blizzard overwhelmed the Northeast with single-digit temperatures, up to 90 mph winds, and 4-5 feet of snow, ultimately taking the lives of over 400 people.
Long Island was hit hard, with many areas recording nearly 40 inches of snow and two-story-high drifts. The blizzard knocked out telephone and telegraph lines, paralyzed the LIRR, and left people stranded in their homes without access to food. Residents on the eastern end of Long Island were isolated from the outside world, where the snow reportedly extended to the second floor of the Sag Harbor Express building. On Huntington’s Main Street the drifts were 10-15 feet high. A local police order required saloons, such as the Suffolk Tavern in Patchogue pictured here, to stay open all night to shelter stranded men, women, and children who had been caught off-guard by the storm and were unable to reach their homes safely.
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