Dandelions in January, 1878

January 9, 2015

It’s been cold here, after days of warmth. Just like New York’s winter of 1877-1878, though without the symptoms of spring recorded by William Hoyt Coleman.
Christian Union 17 (9 Jan 1878): p. 44

They are all talking about the marvelous weather of this winter and printing reports of remarkable growths. Rhubarb is an inch high near New York, and dandelions are in bloom on Bostom Common; a grasshopper has appeared there likewise. Lilac buds are pushing in all parts of the country; potatoes are rotting in cellar and heap; and celery is hawked about the streets at quarter prices for fear it, too, will “suffer change” into something unpleasantly soft. The plows are briskly running in the furrow and the wide-awake farmers bid fair to get all their spring work done in advance. Only the oxen and horses complain of this; they are losing their winter vacation at the straw-stack with the prospect of extra jobs being laid out for the spring season. In the city the building of the elevated railroad goes merrily on, resulting in torn-up streets and clouds of dust that floating skyward cause the daily paragrapher to break forth in rapturous praise of “the stately beauty of our city in these Roman-winter days.” He says that the triturated refuse of the streets, rising in mid-air, changes into a dim, softening haze that mellows the harsh lines of our architecture and produces a series of harmonious pictures. He begs the traveled citizen to walk up Broadway from the Battery to Madison square between 1 and 2 P.M. (providing he hasn’t a note to meet at the bank) and confess (while he chokes in the dusty atmosphere) that only the magic of historic association has made the old world cities attractive to him. Whew! we hope the citizen has taken his walk, for as we write the thermometer has dropped to 14° above, a sharp north wind drives the dust-clouds sea-ward, and there’s now no fun in stopping to admire the aerial perspectives of Murray Hill and Central Park. The new year comes in keen and cold, but still clear and bright, and no snow. Snow to the north of us, snow to the south of us, snow to the west of us eddies and flurries—but not a flake falls in the city where we write. And every New Yorker (the small boy and the stableman excepted) prays that so it may continue.

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