You may think you’ve seen snow in Chicago. Let me tell you about a real snowstorm. I’m talking about the Blizzard of ’67.
If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait awhile–it will change. in 1967 January 24 was a Tuesday, and the temperature got up to 65. Wednesday was more seasonal. On Thursday, at about 5 a.m., snow began falling. Morning travel was a little slow, but you expect that in January.
And it kept snowing all day. By 2:00 it was getting so bad, some businesses started letting people out early. At 4:00, when the evening rush hour started, things got really impossible.
On the streets, the snow just kept piling up. The plows couldn’t keep up with it–we didn’t have snow routes then. The buses got stuck. The ‘L’ backed up, because part of the system ran on the ground. Some of the commuter trains were running, but with big delays.
Traffic stopped moving. Totally. After a few hours, many people simply left their cars where they were and started walking. The city later counted 20,000 abandoned vehicles. Some people who were downtown checked into a hotel for the night–or camped out in the lobby when the hotel filled up.
The snow continued through the night. On Friday morning, around 10 a.m., it finally stopped. We’d had 29 straight hours of snow. The official count was 23 inches, a Chicago record for so much snow so fast.
That Friday was like a holiday. Most of the city was shut down, and neighbors traded stories about how long it had taken them to get home. Of course, Friday wasn’t a holiday for the crews that had to work to get things moving again.
By Tuesday, we were getting back to normal. But on Wednesday, there was some more snow, 4 inches to start off February. The Sunday after that, a third storm dumped 10 more inches. Then the weather turned cold. All that snow stayed where it was for over a month.
Now you have over three feet worth of snow piled up. You didn’t have many snow blowers, so people had to shovel by hand. When they finally dug out their car, they’d save the space by putting out old chairs or tables. That’s when this famous Chicago custom started–after the Blizzard of ’67.
So the next time we get some snow, don’t complain about how bad it is. And don’t try to take my parking space.