The snowpocalypse of 1888 brought a brutal blizzard to New York City and temperatures cold enough to freeze the East River. In true New York fashion, some enterprising young men found a way to help Brooklynites with their commute while making a pretty penny.
Both The New York Times and The Brooklyn Eagle recorded the tale of the frozen East River in March of 1888. With dramatic language, the papers regaled readers with the story of impatient Brooklynites waiting for ferries that couldn’t cross. When word spread the river was frozen solid, people began to contemplate walking across.
But how to get down from the piers onto the ice safely? According to the Times, “a boy with a ladder, and a shrewd eye to business” lowered his ladder to the ice and began charging each soul brave enough to climb down a two-cent fee for access. Interestingly, the paper reported a young man on the Manhattan side followed suit — but the fee to enter Manhattan was higher: He charged five cents.
- The Snowpocalypse of 1888
- Even in 1872, South Brooklynites Were Complaining About Their Horrific Commutes
- It’s Nice to Be Ice