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
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...