The summer of 1881 had been be brutally hot and dry across the Mid-west and into the eastern states. Because of the conditions and other factors massive forest fire had erupted in parts of Michigan early in September culminating in the Great Thumb fire in Michigan on 5 and 6th. It resulted in a yellow sky in the major eastern cities on September 6 because of the smoke and haze in the air. Strong, dry winds fueled the fire. No notable fires broke out in the east on September 7, 1881, but it sure felt like something was burning. Record heat scorched most of the big cities up and down the eastern seaboard setting record that still stand today 140 years later. The mercury soared to 101 degrees in New York City; 102 degrees in Boston, MA; 104 degrees in Washington DC a September record; 102 degrees in Philadelphia also a September record and the latest 100 degrees ever. Modern air conditioning wouldn’t be invented for almost another 20 years in 1902 by Willis Carrier and it wasn’t until the mid 1920’s that mass viable air conditioning was truly available. Prior to that, people have to rely on more conventional methods to cool off like going to the beach or a pool and as those folks did in the great September heat wave of 1881 – wait for autumn to arrive.
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