The Blizzard of ’67 (1-27-1967)

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.

1-26-1967--Michigan Avenue bus stop

1-26-1967–Michigan Avenue bus stop

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.

1-27-1967--Columbus Drive when the snow stopped

1-27-1967–Columbus Drive when the snow stopped

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.

1-27-1967--an unexpected holiday

1-27-1967–an unexpected holiday

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.

1-27-1967--after I dug out my car

1-27-1967–after I dug out my car

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.


10 Responses to “The Blizzard of ’67 (1-27-1967)”

  1. 1 Michael Stichauf January 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    One of your best posts ever, sir! I’ve been following you for about a year now. Terrific!

  2. 3 SWSIDEFAN January 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Nice car, John. Looks like a ’65 or ’66 Galaxie 500 or LTD?

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt January 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Actually my parents’ car, though I was the main chauffeur. It was a 1966 Ford Custom (the cheapest model).

      • 5 Ronald Jackson January 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        Nice job on the blog. I remember the blizzard well as I had taken the day off work from Allis Chalmers to study for an exam that evening. A fellow student and I headed downtown Chicago from Harvey in my car about 3:30 after determining that the exam was not cancelled. Fortunately the Calumet expressway was closed so we returned to downtown Harvey to catch the first IC train in over an hour headed for downtown Chicago Loyola campus. We took the scheduled examen and started our trip home about 9:30 on the IC. Unfortunately one of the switches about 127th street was frozen and we did not get underway until 1:00 AM. Of course I had to dig my car out of the snow once back in Harvey in order to get home around 2:00 AM. Work was cancelled the next day.

      • 6 J.R. Schmidt January 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

        Thanks. On the evening the storm hit, my girlfriend and I went to see Dr. Zhivago at the Portage Theatre. Walking through the snow afterward, we could really identify with the movie .

      • 7 SWSIDEFAN January 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm

        my Dad drove Fords his whole driving life. Imagine putting seven kids and two adults in a 62 Falcon wagon. By the time the youngest was born in 1969 to make it an even eight kids, he had moved to the full size Country Sedan, but was still a plain jane model.

  3. 8 Garry January 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

    On that Tuesday before the storm, it was so warm, that I climbed up on the roof & installed a new TV antenna on the chimney.
    I wore a short sleeve shirt & jeans, no jacket!

  4. 9 Alzo January 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I was 9 years old and dug a snow tunnel in our back yard.

  5. 10 Amiable Dorsai January 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    My sister and I built a snowman in the middle of Fullerton Avenue that Friday. If I recall correctly, it didn’t get plowed until Sunday–it took them that long to clear the road of abandoned vehicles.

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