1936 was the epicenter of the worst heatwave in American history. The Old Farmers Almanac reports that even on the “cool” eastern seaboard in July of 1936, it was the heat wave that made the news. The heat wave had interesting impacts. In Boston, the price of cream skyrocketed as the combination of the drought in the Midwest and the hot weather in the East made for a “very short cream market.” Wholesale prices rose from $11 for a 40-quart can of cream in 1935 to $17.28 a can in July of 1936. Central Park in New York City hit 106°F on July 9. That still stands as the all-time record today. The next day, Waterbury, Connecticut, saw 103°F, while many other New England towns hit over 100°F. Those who could, left the steaming asphalt of the cities. Others stood under sprinklers or slept on roofs. In New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared public beaches open all night for the duration, promising not to arrest anyone. City swimming pools lengthened their hours. Nearly 1,000 deaths occurred nationwide—76 in New York City were attributed to the 10-day heat wave, some from heat stroke or lung ailments, others from accidental drownings as non-swimmers desperately attempted to cool off. Canadian towns and cities also felt the severity of the sun. Ontario alone marked over 500 deaths from the heat.
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