Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

OHA Book Club – “Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Rise of Roosevelt” by Edward P. Kohn

November 19, 2016 @ 11:00 am - 1:30 pm

Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Rise of Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn

This November, OHA Book Club will discuss Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Rise of Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn.

From Amazon

One of the worst natural disasters in American history, the 1896 New York heat wave killed almost 1,500 people in ten oppressively hot days. The heat coincided with a pitched presidential contest between William McKinley and the upstart Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who arrived in New York City at the height of the catastrophe. As historian Edward P. Kohn shows, Bryan’s hopes for the presidency began to flag amidst the abhorrent heat just as a bright young police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt was scrambling to mitigate the dangerously high temperatures by hosing down streets and handing out ice to the poor.

A vivid narrative that captures the birth of the progressive era, Hot Time in the Old Town revives the forgotten disaster that almost destroyed a great American city.

From Publishers Weekly

For 10 hellishly hot days in August 1896, the poorly ventilated tenement blocks of immigrant New York were transformed into massive ovens: horses dropped dead in the streets and nearly 1,300 people perished. That same week, William Jennings Bryan, a promising prairie populist from Nebraska and the Democratic Party’s choice for president, launched his opposition to William McKinley and set out on a cross-country campaign tour, and a police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt hosed down the streets, desperately trying to bring down the temperatures. Kohn (The Kindred People), professor of American studies and literature at Bilkent University in Turkey, splices these stories together, but the union feels forced, and any correlation of Bryan’s downfall (a clumsy, momentum-killing speech at Madison Square Garden) with the heat wave is tenuous. “It is in the nature of heat waves to kill slowly,” writes Kohn, “with no physical manifestation, no property damage, and no single catastrophic event that markets them as a disaster.” He succeeds in bringing this little-known tragedy to light, but it is weakened rather than strengthened by the addition of an election narrative.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


November 19, 2016
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Onondaga Historical Association
View Organizer Website


Onondaga Historical Association
321 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, 13202
+ Google Map
View Venue Website