Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dealing With The City Heat


We have had an extremely cool summer here in NYC. In fact, yesterday was only the second day the temperature got anywhere near 90 degrees.

But July and August are usually unbearably hot here in the city - all the concrete and asphalt and steel just radiate the heat. Traditionally, wealthy New Yorkers get the hell out of Dodge during the summer months - escaping to "The Country" (Newport RI, The Hamptons, Upstate NY, or rural CT). Some of these wealthy Manhattanites didn't even bother to install air conditioning in their Fifth and Park Avenue apartments after air conditioning became commonplace, because "proper" people wouldn't be caught dead in the city during the summer. People would talk, you know.


But in the days before air conditioning became relatively inexpensive, those without the means to escape the city heat had few options. One of the things they did have was a fire escape - and that's where people slept. They also slept on the beaches of Coney Island or in Central Park - but older New Yorkers still speak fondly about a time when the fire escapes in some neighborhoods were full of families during hot summer nights.


I almost slept on the fire escape once. During the Blackout of August 14, 2003 it was HOT. Sweet Baby JEEBUS it was HOT!! And I am completely, utterly, and hopelessly addicted to air conditioning - the colder the better. So when the power went off that day, I had no idea how I would ever get to bed.


Luckily, myself and 8 million other New Yorkers remembered one thing that would help us all sleep in the heat - BOOZE. Bitches, the city was DRONK that night - on roofs (you could actually see STARS in the sky!), on the sidewalk, or in bars lit by candles. Seriously, every single one of us knew we didn't have to work the next day, and we knew it was hot, so we got WASTED. But it worked, we all eventually passed out slept in the heat like babies.


That night I ended up passing out on my couch, and I woke up the next day to the stifling heat. But by the afternoon the power came on, and I could hear people in my neighborhood literally squealing with glee. And then we all simultaneously slammed our windows shut and cranked the AC.

So, as the 6-year anniversary of the Blackout approaches, I plan on saying kind words to the THREE air conditioners in my tiny apartment ... and paying my electric bill on time. Because I certainly don't want to to be forced sleep on the fire escape ... and/or get DRONK...

10 comments:

Miss Ginger Grant said...

Honey, you don't even want to talk to me about heat! We have had a scorching summer!

miss alaineus said...

i grew up in a small massachusetts town that had new york people in for the summer.

and i remember that dang blackout-- that sucked. all the good folk of the city here rushed to meijers to go get good meat to barbeque whilst they drank. no kidding. a haze of bbq smoke hung over the motor city like a noxious cloud for the entire time the power was out.

xxalainaxx

Beth said...

it's been crazy hot in Ohio this past week....OHIO???!!! WTF? anyways, I'd SOOOOO be sleeping on my fire escape, if I had one. and that first pic is so cool! Did you take it? looks like the buildings are melting sorta!
XOXOXOXOX

Michael Rivers said...

We've had a very unusual summer in Minneapolis too. It hasn't even seemed like summer. I just read that it is the coolest and driest summer on record for us. I want my summer weather!!

Joy said...

I am totally indebted to the inventor of air conditioning! I must have it! Two things I do not abide are being uncomfortable or inconvenienced. No way!

Beth said...

It's been a cool summer for us, too--until this week. Whew! I think what really gets to everyone the most is the humidity. It's been brutal this week. You mentioned the concrete and steel radiating heat. When I was working and it was a hot and humid day, I could mark the line where that changed as I was driving home (south of work). Maybe two miles north of our house, when you got into areas with trees, I swear, the temperature dropped about 10°. It was amazing! XOXO Beth

Stephen said...

Well, Portland Oregon has had the hottest summer on record with 10 days in a row over 90 & 5 days with temps over 100! What gives?
I lived in NYC during the blackout of 1976...& it was a doozey!
I remember that a bunch of people in my building gathered on the roof & we had a bit of a party.

lady t said...

I totally hear you about being addicted to AC-I managed to get home from work alright that day but my apt is on the sixth floor(the very top of the building)and the climb was fierce!

One thing that was good about that night was how civilized everyone acted towards each other;I had stopped at a store to get some extra water on the way home and there was a bit of a line to the cash register. Yet,folks were polite and patient,with no attempts at line cutting whatsoever.

During the '76 blackout(which I recall well enough from my childhood),people tore the town up but in '03,that didn't seem to be the agenda. Perhaps that's a sign of social progress:)

Mark in DE said...

I remembering hearing about the blackout when it happened. I didn't know anyone living in NYC then, but felt bad for those strangers anyway. I heart a/c.

Gummi Bare said...

It was 104 yesterday.

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