Never mind our chilly nights lately. A century ago Monday morning, at 6:15 a.m. on Jan. 7, 1913, the mercury in San Diego hit rock bottom. It hasn’t been that cold since.
How low did it go? To 25 nippy degrees Fahrenheit. The “Great California Freeze” froze half the home water pipes in the city, iced bottles of milk on doorsteps and burst fire hydrants. The chill also spawned icicles, killed fruit crops and forced fishermen to stay on land due to frozen nets.
“Yes, it was some cold,” declared the Evening Tribune. “Fifty thousand new resolutions were passed to put in furnaces, coal grates, and electric heaters.”
It was definitely not a field day for Chamber of Commerce types who loved to boast about our fine climate back then too. The San Diego Union warned in a headline: “Sh! Don’t Tell Anybody — Keep it a Cold Secret!”
Nor was it a good day for a man who appeared at the Horton Plaza fountain, where kids were chipping off the ice as temporary souvenirs, and declared he was taking photos to make postcards to send back east. Even in 1913, it was not a good idea to threaten our fair city’s tourism and growth.