The Havoc Hurricanes Wreak On Yankee Cities (A Visual History)

by Owen James Burke

Research, images and art arranged by Monkeyfist

New York has been hit by hurricanes before, and it hasn’t been pretty. One of the most looming issues is that the region is relatively flat–there’s no buffer zone, so there’s nothing stopping a 10-foot storm surge from inundating New York.

August 19, 1788 — A hurricane strikes New York City or Long Island and the west side of the Battery is flooded and “left in ruins.”

Hog Island was a mile-long piece of land that surfaced off the Rockaways in the mid-1800’s, and was developed into a miniature Rockaway Beach or Coney Island. In 1893 it was struck and demolished by the Sea Islands Hurricane, an utter reminder that much of New York’s coastline is nothing but a great big sandbar.


In 1938 “The New England Hurricane,” or the “Long Island Express,” hit New York as a category 5 hurricane, sending 125 mph sustained winds and a storm surge of 18 feet, destroying thousands of homes and boats from New York to Maine, and killing more than 600 people.

  • Hurricane Edna struck New York in 1954, causing the Navy to evacuate hundreds of warships and aircraft. In all, 29 lives were lost in New York.
  • In 1972, Hurricane Agnes struck near New York City, dumping 12 inches of rain, causing severe river flooding, and killing 6.
  • In September of 1985, Hurricane Gloria made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane, resulting in one fatality but costing $300 million in damages.

“In the last 200 years, New York has seen only a few significant hurricanes. In September of 1821, a hurricane raised tides by 13 feet in an hour and flooded all of Manhattan south of Canal Street, the southernmost tip of the city. The area now includes Wall Street and the World Trade Center memorial.”

“We have a young generation of lobstermen who’ve never experienced a full-blown hurricane,” Maine lobsterman Greg Griffin told the Associated Press, and it’s long overdue.

Inching her way west toward land as she approaches, Hurricane Irene has nothing in her path; there appear to be no weather fronts, no pressure systems and warm waters only make for a more alarming outlook as these conditions will only fuel her ferocity. Batten down the hatches and take the boats upstream.

*via twc, wiki, ap and ephemeralny, graphics by Sandy Konigmacher*

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