Hot Time in the Old Town
The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt
One of the worst natural disasters in American history, the 1896 New York heat wave killed almost 1,500 people in ten oppressively hot days. The heat coincided with a pitched presidential contest between William McKinley and the upstart Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who arrived in New York City at the height of the catastrophe. As historian Edward P. Kohn shows, Bryan’s hopes for the presidency began to flag amidst the abhorrent heat just as a bright young police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt was scrambling to mitigate the dangerously high temperatures by hosing down streets and handing out ice to the poor.
A vivid narrative that captures the birth of the progressive era, Hot Time in the Old Town revives the forgotten disaster that almost destroyed a great American city.
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- Basic Books, July 2010
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