At 5:02 a.m. on this date, it began to snow. Nothing remarkable about that. It was January in Chicago, and, besides, 4 inches of snow had been predicted. But it kept snowing, all through this miserable Thursday and into early Friday morning, until it finally stopped at 10:10 a.m. By the end, 23 inches covered Chicago and the suburbs, the largest single snowfall in the city's history.
Thousands were stranded in offices, in schools, in buses. About 50,000 abandoned cars and 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses littered the streets and expressways.All most people wanted to do was get home. One woman who worked downtown and lived on the city's North Side--normally a 35-minute commute--spent four hours making the trip.
In south suburban Markham, 650 students in four schools camped out in libraries and gymnasiums because school buses could not get through. "They are all enjoying themselves," Supt. J. Lewis Weingarner told the Tribune. "This is a night that will go down in many memory books."
Some memories were not as cheerful. Looting was rampant. Long lines formed at grocery stores, and shelves were emptied in moments. As a result of the record snow, 26 people died, including a 10-year-old girl who was accidentally caught in the cross-fire between police and looters and a minister who was run over by a snowplow. Several others died of heart attacks from shoveling snow.
The Blizzard of '67 proved the wisdom behind the Chicago saying "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute." Only two days before, the temperature had reached a record 65 degrees.
Generally, winter is the time that tries the soul of even the most devoted Chicagoan. Temperatures frequently fall below zero in January and February, and battles with big snows are a regular, but thankfully not annual, occurrence.
During January 1918, 42 inches of the white stuff descended on the city; the 20.3 inches of snow that fell in mid-January 1979, piled up on top of snow already on the ground, producing a record accumulation of 29 inches.
The paralyzing strength of the '67 storm suspended normal routines for days. The latticework of stranded cars, trucks and buses plugged roads. Thousands of air travelers and workers were stranded at Chicago's three airports, which were closed for record long stretches. Drifts 10-feet high covered Midway Airport runways.
Though Mayor Richard J. Daley had workers clearing streets around the clock, he appealed to owners of snow-removal equipment to donate their services.
Still, it was great to be a child during the Blizzard of '67. There were mountains of snow to play in, and plenty of time to play in them: Schools were closed for several days.Copyright © 2015, CT Now