Ed Driscoll

Detroit's Killer Heat Wave

This sounds absolutely horrific:

When Detroiters began to die on the first day, the list was easily contained on the front page of the paper. Dora Brady, 89, in her home on Sanford. Nathan Derby, 97, in his home on West Philadelphia. A worker at Dodge Main, collapsing on the line. A man working in a laundry, another in a restaurant downtown. A night watchman found dead when the office was opened. An elderly man found in a field at Telegraph and Ann Arbor Trail. Another beneath the street sign at Burlingame and 14th.

Edison Fountain in Grand Circus Park was a popular cooling off spot for city youngsters.

There were 10 in all on the first day. No one could have known that it was only the beginning of one of the greatest and deadliest disasters in the history of Detroit.

* * *

Healthy men and women would start off for work in the morning and never come home, falling in the streets or at work when they were overcome by the sun and heat. Weeping relatives besieged Receiving Hospital and the morgue, where the dead were lined up in corridors since no space remained on the slabs. Doctors and nurses collapsed at their stations, overcome by heat and fatigue. “It’s as if Detroit has been attacked by a plague out of the Middle Ages,” one observer wrote.

It happened in 1936, not this year or 1998.

(Via Small Dead Animals.)