Our first, but hardly historic, heat wave of 2018

Extreme Weather: A Guide & Record Book, Christopher C. Burt, W. W. Norton & Company, 2007

OK, already. So we’re having a heat wave for the Fourth. Big surprise.

Trenton Evening Times, July 3, 1901 Trenton, NJ, p1
Philadelphia Inquirer, July 9, 1890, p1

Welcome to New Jersey in July.

Almost any July.

Stifling heat and high humidity have been staples of summers here for as long as records have been  kept.

The effects of an 1876 June-July heat wave seriously discouraged visitors to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Since then, summers here have spawned dozens of heat waves (notably those of 1896, 1911, 1995, 1936, 1948, 1955, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2006, and 2012) with devastating economic effects and costing hundreds of lives.

Summer 1936 produced the nation’s worst heat wave and hottest summer in history, up to that time.

Trenton Evening Times, July 9, 1936, Trenton, NJ, p1
Business District of Palmyra, N.J., Broadway Theater marquee at left 1954

Back then, the local citizenry sought refuge from the intense heat inside Palmyra’s Broadway Theater.

The New Era, July 16, 1936, p8

A story in The New Era describes the innovative cooling system that used well water.

The New Era, July 15, 1937, p1

It wasn’t until post World War II that residential air-conditioning became available at reasonable rates.

Before Riverton School had air-conditioning, I can recall school closing because of the heat a couple of times. Those third-floor rooms could get brutal. The whining and complaining was awful.

And that was just from the teachers.

So stay hydrated out there on the Fourth, folks, add another page to Riverton history, and please comment about a heat wave that you recall.  -JMc

Kodachrome – Bruce Gunn 1950s

Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

One thought on “Our first, but hardly historic, heat wave of 2018”

  1. Wow- AC at riverton school… I’m sure that was an appreciated update! I remember those June 3rd floor days. 🙂 We’ve got a “heat wave” approaching too…85 in Portland OR feels so hot when we’re not used to it!

Leave a Reply