On February 23, 1802 a great snowstorm raged across New England, by nightfall when the snow stopped flying, drifts in places near Boston piled up to 4 feet high. In those early days of the republic how did people get around in cities? How were the streets cleaned? According to Marketplace.org; before the mid-1800s, there wasn’t really any effort to get snow off roads. Before 1862, people didn’t use snow plows, they used snow rollers. The way people travelled through snow was by attaching skis to their horse-drawn carts and carriages. Snow rollers were huge, horse-drawn wheels that would flatten out the snow, making it easier for the carts with skis to move on the winter roads. But by the mid-19th century, as cities were rapidly growing in population, city streets needed to be entirely clear of snow for the business of the city to continue. And with this, came snow plows, first used by the city of Milwaukee in 1862. Early snow plows were horse-drawn, and would deposit the compacted snow in huge piles on the city’s streets and sidewalks. Not all cities used plows though. Some just used shovels. In New York, clearing the snow was the responsibility of the Police Department and officers would have to shovel. On February 23, 1802 in Boston, people where then left to fend for themselves in dealing with a massive snowstorm and it took more than a week to literally dig out.
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