New York Tries to Keep Cool

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It’s not just hot outside. “Hot” is an understatement.

It’s humid. It’s boiling. It’s unpleasant and even unhealthy.

This summer in New York has been warmer than average, and this week is no different. August has been 2.4 degrees hotter than it would normally be so far, said Joe Pollina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Parts of New York, northeast New Jersey and southern Connecticut are under a heat advisory until Wednesday night, according to the Weather Service.

Here’s what you need to know.

A heat advisory is issued when the heat and humidity make it feel as if it is 95 to 99 degrees outside for at least two days. The current one for the New York City area started Monday.

That advisory is expected to end at 8 p.m., but during the day, highs will reach the upper 80s, Mr. Pollina said. Because of high humidity levels, it’s going to feel like the upper 90s.

Even after the heat advisory ends, the hot weather will continue. The forecast for Thursday calls for a high in the mid-80s, with the heat index approaching 90.

Heat like this puts older people, small children and people with pre-existing conditions like asthma at risk, Mr. Pollina said.

To make matters worse, thousands in New York and Connecticut were still without power as of early Wednesday, a week after Tropical Storm Isaias battered the region. As temperatures rise, older people and other vulnerable residents will have a hard time keeping themselves and their medication cool.

The best way to escape the heat is by staying indoors with air conditioning. (Fans that just blow hot air aren’t helpful, Mr. Pollina said.)

The city has opened about 200 cooling centers, which are free to the public, indoors and air-conditioned. But because of the pandemic, the centers are required to limit their capacity and to mandate mask wearing. Beaches and public pools are also open, though social-distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus still apply.

Mr. Pollina suggested that people exercise in the early morning or evening to avoid the highest temperatures.

“Drink plenty of liquids,” he said. “Water, not alcohol, obviously.”

The Times’s Julia Carmel writes:

After nearly five months of blooming in solitude, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has opened to the public.

Dhanya Bell, who grew up several blocks from the garden, was one of the first visitors to return to the lush grounds, which she called “the most cathartic place in Brooklyn.”

“I’ve been coming here since I was a child,” Ms. Bell said as she visited on Friday. “It really broke my heart that we weren’t able to be here during this entire quarantine.”

Before the coronavirus crisis shut down the garden, it was gearing up for its biggest season — spring. So, the cherry blossoms came and went, and many of the other flowers bloomed with no audience.

“We were right on the precipice of throwing open our doors and saying, ‘Come back! Experience the garden for the first time in 10 years without construction,’ when the pandemic hit,” said Kathryn Glass, the vice president of marketing and business development for the organization that runs the garden.

Tickets to the garden are free, and entry times are staggered to encourage social distancing. At 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily, a composition in memory of those who died from Covid-19 plays on the Cherry Esplanade.

The new Elizabeth Scholtz Woodland Garden, named for a longtime director who died in April at 98, has opened. And the Robert W. Wilson Overlook, which had its debut last fall, only to be shut down a few months later because of the coronavirus, is open again. It’s a hillside garden with pathways that doubles as a ramp for patrons to look out on the Cherry Esplanade and Cranford Rose Garden.

“Just to be able to have this space to relax and process everything that’s been occurring for the past seven months — it’s been a lot, and I feel like this is a quiet place where I can do it,” Ms. Bell said.

It’s Wednesday — stop and smell the roses.

Dear Diary:

It was summer 1955. I was working at an advertising agency on Park Avenue after having graduated from college in June.

I was to be married in August, and my college roommate, who would be my best man, was also working in the city.

We met for lunch one day, and he presented me with a wedding gift in a large box from Black, Starr & Gorham, a prominent Fifth Avenue jewelry store known today, and for much of its history, as Black, Starr & Frost.

I was living with my parents in Forest Hills at the time, and I decided I should leave work early because I would be carrying the present home on the subway and wanted to avoid the rush-hour crowds.

When I got to the station, it was packed, even though it was only midafternoon. When the train pulled in, I did what I thought was smart and lifted the box over my head and pushed my way in.

The subways were not air-conditioned then, and they relied instead on overhead fans to cool the cars. I could see that there was an inch of thick, greasy dirt on the fan blades in the car I was on.

My box hit the fan, and that greasy dirt flew all over my fellow passengers’ faces and clothes. The blades also left a huge slice in the box.

I got off at the next stop to avoid more contact with the car full of irate passengers and waited for a less congested subway car to complete my trip home.

The sterling silver bowl inside the box was unscathed, and as my wife and I celebrate our 65th anniversary this year, it is still with us.

— Bob O’Such

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