The winter had been the mildest in 16 years, and spring was peeking out. Walt Whitman's poem, "The First Dandelion," was published in the March 12 New York Herald.
It happened 90 years ago and was always remembered as the "Blizzard of '88."
Old-timers talked about it for years every time a snowflake fell.
It certainly was a storm to be remembered, according to a National Geographic account, it being one of the first disasters they ever covered.
Washington was the first to be hit, and fast - within hours the wires were down, tress lay sprawled across streets, roofs caved in.
There was no communication between the White House, Capitol Hill and government agencies. Trains were stopped and Washington was isolated from the rest of the country.
The storm moved on, wrecking Baltimore, Philadelphia, New york and wreaking havoc across six New England states.
In Chesapeake Bay, 200 vessels were destroyed when the winds breiefly blew away the water, exposing muddy bottoms.
In New York City, 75-miles an hour winds roared through the narrow streets tearing out store fronts and doors.
The subways stopped. The people on the elevated sections were resuced by ladders, and it being New York they were charged 50 cents a head to get back to street level.
An estimated 20 million cubic feet on what was called "blizzard Monday,"isolating all major cities, burying towns and villages from Maine to Maryland.
Hundreds of shops were wrecked, trains stalled for days, 600 died from cold and exposure, 200 of them New Yorkers.
Everett Hayden, a Navy scientist, wrote that the blizzard "drove the seas before it so violently that many tides did not resume their normal heights for nearly a week along coastal ports, and the Gulf Stream was temporarily shoved far to the south."
In Brooklyn, 20 mail carriers trying to live up to the slogan engraved across the main post office, colapsed in the storm and had to be rescued.
The stock exchange closed down. Businessmen paid $40 for a wagon ride to their offices.
Department store personnel slept on the floors behind their counters.
Leslie's Weekly reported that the storm had left New York, "Like a forgotten ruin in the heart of Asia."
When the strom gave up, New York had been slugged by 21 inches.
Up until a few years ago some survivors had annual get-togethers calling themselves the "Blizzard Men of '88," and they would meet on the anniversary of the storm.
Children who were born during that period were christened with names like, "Snowflake," "Snowdrift," and "Blizzard."