How city kids cooled off in the heat wave of 1953

“Summer in the City!”

Ephemeral New York

A 10-day heat wave left the city blistering in late summer 1953, with record temperatures in the triple digits scalding the streets.

Luckily these city kids living in the vicinity of today’s Nolita (see the ad for 276 Bowery) knew how to keep cool: They opened a fire hydrant.

Life magazine photographer Peter Stackpole captured these wonderful images: the spray coming out high into the Belgian Block street, then a boy aiming a flood of water at his buddy.

The next shots show other kids joining in, with no street traffic getting in their way. And then a policeman apparently puts a stop to it.

It looked like a lot of fun while it lasted. Amazingly, almost every kid is wearing long pants!

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3 Comments on “How city kids cooled off in the heat wave of 1953”

  1. Joe Conlon says:

    I grew up on 89th bet. 2nd and 3rd during the 30’s,40’s and 50’s.During the late fifties and early sixties our crowd would head up to Patsy’s for a dish and then over to the Blue Moon for drinks…Prior to that my mothers friend lived on the corner of 116th or 118th st. and Pleasant ave. And then there was stickball…I played with the 91st.street guys.

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for your comment Joe! By the way, who was your mom’s friend? My family lived on E.118th near Pleasant. Maybe my family knows your mom’s friend.


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