November 18, 2000
By 1816 the people of New York were beginning to put the second British war behind them. At the mouth of the Hudson River, Gotham, Anglo-Saxon for Goat-Town, a name for New York City borrowed from English fables by Washington Irving nine years previously, reached a population of 93,634 people. The nation's largest city, it wasn't about to sit on its laurels. Brooklyn, later a city in its own right, became a village on April 12th. In Manhattan the American Bible Society was founded on May 8th. Worshippers of a secular god were also keeping busy. Plans were being considered for a revolutionary institution - the savings bank - but it would be a few more years in coming, and New York would not have the first. New construction was under way, with a new penitentiary near Bellevue Hospital replacing the Newgate prison where businessman-scientist Amos Eaton had spent the last few years. A new industry also sprang into being as five shiploads of ice were sent to the American South, and as far away as South America and Asia.
Another event on the other side of the world may have had something to do with that new industry. Last year when Sumatra's Mount Tambora volcano went ka-boom, weather around much of the world underwent changes lasting for some time. This year, as spring approached, the temperatures remained quite cold. Schenectady provides a good example. On June 9th ice formed, sleighs were still being used and leaves dropped from the trees. Eight days later a blizzard left between 12 and 18 inches of snow, and on Independence Day, ice formed as "thick as window glass." Ocean currents kept Long Island close to normal, but the rest of the state, as well as parts of Europe, huddled around the fire this year, a year known as the one without a summer. Many crops were ruined; flour advanced from six to fourteen dollars a barrel.
Agriculture was only one source of work, of course. Industries were popping up all over, especially along major waterways. Up on the Mohawk, in the town of Ilion, a local gunsmith knew a growth industry when he saw one; Eliphalet Remington set up a factory and began turning out rifles. By now the production of salt in the nearby Onondaga country was producing revenue for New York State. This year economy measures were put in place. The superintendent of the works lost his assistant, but had his salary increased a bit, still yielding a net savings, and the legislature had a use for it. (Surprise! Surprise!) In the spring they authorized the construction of a canal and appointed commissioners for the project. De Witt Clinton was one, along with Stephen van Rensselaer, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley.
Finally, New York wasn't the only community to consider building new prisons. Upstate, Auburn began work on a new one. Other construction was underway, as well. On a nearby street Judge Elijah Miller was having a house built. One day a U. S. Secretary of State would live there. It was not to be the home's first brush with history, however. One of the work crew was a carpenter named Brigham Young.
For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor
© 2000 David Minor / Eagles Byte
New York City / State NYNY1815
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With global temperatures seemingly on the upswing, for whatever reason, you may never get the chance to predict a repeat of 1816's Year without a Summer. Still you might want to try your hand at tomorrow's weather. For a large and varied compendium of weather lore and predicton tips, you might take a look at Weather World, You'll find a chart for interpreting the katy-dids' (katy-dids's?) call and several hundred other tips such as the following: "Pigs gather leaves and straw before a storm", "It will be cold, snowy winter if the breastbone of a fresh-cooked turkey is dark purple", "the first frost in autumn will be exactly six months after the first thunderstorm of the spring". Keep in mind these may be folklore but some folks have, of necessity, been pretty observant. Try 'em out.
The best indication suggested is the following. Place a rock
in your yard where you can see it from a window. If the rock is:
dry - weather's clear
wet - it's raining
white - it's snowing
gone - tornado
The Game's Afoot ! !
© 2000 David Minor / Eagles Byte