History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of
procured in Holland, England and France
by John Romeyn Broadhead, Esq., Agent,
UNDER AND BY VIRTUE OF AN ACT OF THE LEGISLATURE ENTITLED "AN ACT TO APPOINT AN AGENT TO PROCURE AND TRANSCRIBE DOCUMENT IN EUROPE RELATIVE TO THE COLONIAL HISTORY OF THE STATE," PASSED MAY 2, 1839. VOLUME V., ALBANY;
Weed, Pasons and Company, Printers, 1855.
(Note the spelling is from the 18th Century)
Date on this uncertain; it appears in the 1723 documents.
Mr. Colden's Account of the Climate of New-York.
[ New-York Papers, Co., 118. ]
An Account of the Climate of New York. by. C Colden Surveyor Gen(ll) of the Province
The City of New York lyes nearly in 40. degr: & 40 min: of North Latitude and about five hours west from London-The climate partakes of the extreem climates Sometimes the summer is as hot as in the Torrid Zone, and the Winter often is not less cold than in the Northern Parts of Europe-The Heat & cold depends very much upon the winds and for that reason in the same season of the year are very various, In the Summer when the wind blows from the Northwest which frequently happens) the air is agreeably cool but in the winter it is piercing cold A Southerly and South Westerly wind if it continue any time in Summer, becomes very hot, and if we want winds, which sometimes happens in July and August, the Air becomes sultry Southerly winds in Winter make the cold very moderate We have much less rain or Snow than in England & the Heaven is seldom overcast with Clouds-The Northwest wind being so extreemly cold, even so far South as North Carolina, I beleive is owing to the high ridge of Mountains which lye to the Westward of Virginia, Maryland, Pensylvania and this province, tho it be generally attributed to the great Lakes which lye to the North westward of this Province, for it is observed in all other countrys that the winds which come from any great quantity of water are not so cold as those that come from Mountains and are always accompanied with rain or moisture whereas the Northwest winds here are very drye besides the winds from the Lakes must be stopt in their course, by these high Mountains which lye betwixt us & the Lakes This is confirmed by what I am told by those who have continued some time in the Sinnekees Country near lagara, on the west side of the mountains, that the Northwest winds there are always accompanied with rain as the easterly winds are here
Tho there be so great a variety of weather in this Country the Height of the Mercury in the Barometer does not suffer so great changes as in England I have had a Barometer by me about six years & never observed the Mercury Lower than 29 inch & 7 or 8 tenths of an inch & it is generally betwixt 30 & 30 1/2 Inches high, tho I have sometimes observed it 31- Inches high which is as high as it is ever observed in England, or I think any where else, but it is so high only in the time of very hard Frost
The Spring is much later than in England, we perceive but very little of it before the latter end of April, March is generally cold and windy, tho for the most part the latter end of February be mild and warm-The winds in March are generally Northerly and they as well as the cold, is owing to the melting of the snow to the Northward of us for these winds are always preceded by some warm weather, either in the latter end of February or beginning of March-The lateness of the Spring is owing to the whole country being covered with wood, so that the Sun cannot easily dissolve the snow which lyes under the Trees or warm the earth-The lateness of the Spring makes it short the hot weather succeeding the cold very quickly-In the Spring the people are subject to Pleuresies and inflammatory fevers, as in all other Countrys upon the breaking up of hard winters, but not so much as in Pennsylvania, and in the countrys to the Southward-The country people and such as are most exposed to the cold are most liable to these Distempers perhaps the reason of the Southern Countrys being more subject to Pleurisies, is that in those countrys the poorer sort are not so well cloathed & have not such warm houses as in this
The Summer begins in the end of May, and continues hot to the beginning of September July & August are the most sultry months, and very often rainy, The air in these two months is always full of moisture, so much that the Doors and windows are observed then to be more swelled than at any other time of the year & Iron rusts so much that it is difficult to keep any Instrument clean .which is made of that Metal tho the weather be extreemly hot at the same time A far greater quantity of Dew likewise falls in these months than at any other time, arid begins to fall a considerable while before Sun set the Mornings are frequently foggy especially near the Rivers & Marshes, after sun rising this proceeds from the quantity of vapour which falls in the night, & is easily raised but is generally dissipated before ten in the morning-The heat in these months is a great deal more uneasy than in June Tho a greater quantity of the Sun's Rays fall upon the earth in that month than in these
This is owing to the quantity of vapour in the air which retains the heat and becomes in a manner scalding for it is always observed that the heat is a great deal more uneasy before rain (tho' the sun does not shine clear) than it is after a shower when it shines with its greatest brightness, and a burning glass before rain does not burn so vehemently as it does after rain
If the air continues sultry after rain we expect more rain speedily or a great quantity of Dew that night The air is frequently fanned in the hot months with sudden Gusts of Nortwest winds they commonly rise in the afternoon and blow violently for half an hour or little more with heavy showers of rain & thunder claps & leave the air agreeably cool & serene when the Country was first settled these Gusts were very frequent hardly a day in the hot seasons passing without them but now since the country began to be cleared the summer is not so sultry and these Gusts are not so frequent-They are likewise much more frequent in the Provinces to the southward of us than in this.
The Thermometer (mind is of Mr Patricks make) in the Summer within doors where the sun can not reach is generally about 20 tho at sometimes it is above 15 & other times below 30-In June I tryed the difference betwixt what it was in the house & the open air where it was exposed to the suns rays, betwixt 2 and 3 in the afternoon which is generally the hottest time of the day and found the Spirit -rise 36 degrees or parts marked in the Thermometer above what it was in the House The Thermometer in the house stood at 26, & exposed to the sun rose 5 degrees above the place marked 3.
The months of July Aug & beginning of September are the most sickly months in the year more people being sick and more children dying than in all the rest of the year The Epidemical Diseases are intermitting Fevers, Cholera Morbus & Fluxes The intermitting Fevers are not near so frequent in this Province as in those more to y(e)Southward, but I think fluxes are more frequent in this Town than in Philadelphia Two reasons may be assigned for this first, the poor people at this time eat abundance of Water Melons and other such kind of fruits more than they do at Philadelphia The other is that the Water in the Town is not neer so good as there being brackish & so hard (as it is commonly termed,) that it will not dissolve Soap.
The fall in this country (and all over the main of America) is most agreeable from the beginning of September to the middle of November The weather being mild and dry The Sckie always serene, and the People healthy
We reckon the winter from the middle of November to March tho' the violent Frosts do not usually begin till about Christmas & then to the middle of February it is extreemly cold the great River during that time being frozen so hard, that horses and Sleds pass dayly upon it-However it does not every year freeze within several miles of the City but in that time there is often so much Ice floathing that it is not safe for Vessels to go to sea or come in The Winter is above 6 weeks longer at Albany than at New York that place being 140 miles further up Hudsons River-It is likewise longer at Philadelphia than here tho' that Town be above a degree & a half more to the South ward This is owing to that place's being situated upon a Fresh water River which more easily Freezes and to its distance from the Sea
The Thermometer in the month of January is generally about 80 I observ(d) it twice at 100. & once at 103. Then the frost & cold was excessive, all Liquors except Spirits Froze-I found Madeira Wine which is a very strong wine frozen in the morning in a Room where there had been a good fire all day untill eleven o clock at night Hudsons River was then frozen over at the Town, where it ft about two miles broad, and the water very salt, so that people passed over on the Ice in Crowds, but the Ice did not continue fast at this place above 3 days-In the beginning of Winter People are in danger of Rheumatic pains and in February to Bastard Pleurisies
The air of the Country being almost always clear and its Spring strong we have few consumptions or diseases of the Lungs I never heard of a broken winded horse in this Country. People inclined to be consumptive in England are often perfectly cured by our fine air, but if there be ulcers formed they die in a little time
The Climate grows every day better as the country is cleared of the woods, and more healthy as all the people that have lived long here, testifie, this has even been sensible to me tho' I have been but about 12 years in the country-I therefore doubt not but it will in time become one of the most agreeable & healthy Climates on the face of the Earth As it is I prefer it to the climate of England and I beleive most people that have lived any considerable time here & are returned to England will confirm this.
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