The Deep Freeze Sends New Yorkers to Odd Places for Warmth

Frozen finger tips and cold winds did not stop Upper East Side residents from hitting the streets Thursday afternoon, despite freezing temperatures. Commuters bundled up in layers on layers of coats, sweaters, scarves, and socks. Young children had their coat zippers so high you could only see their eyes peeking through. Senior citizens donned puffy earmuffs and wool mittens.

The polar vortex was in full swing and New Yorkers did what they could to brave the ice temperatures. The 4-degree weather forced many to go inside wherever they could to get warm, if only for a few minutes.

New York workers bundle up on their lunch break

The deep freeze drove some into stores, museums, and eateries, putting the pressure on managers to keep up. In a good way. Take the Starbucks on Lexington and Third Avenue, for example. “We have been selling all of our hot drinks like crazy,” said one of the baristas, as she took down a customer’s order.

Crowds of people filled the café Thursday morning, some came to order an extra-hot hot chocolate (most people don’t even know that is an option) and others came by just to take a step out of the cold. People continuously stepped inside to avoid freezing on the sidewalk, many just to wait on their Uber’s and Lyft’s to arrive.

While some New Yorkers went to the local Starbucks to avoid the icy drifts, other Upper East Siders went down the street to The Frick Collection, an art museum on the Upper East Side for some warmth, peace and art. “I go to museums on the coldest days, because it is the perfect indoor activity…why not ?” said 22-year-old, Adam Bedawii. Located across from Central Park, the museum was a convenient place to step inside for a respite from the cold.

“We haven’t noticed a huge change in the amount of customers coming, but those that do come are very happy to be out of the cold,” said the communications director of the museum.

The Asian Society Museum on Park Avenue nearby noticed something different. The museum’s front desk receptionist said the museum had double the amount of people stopping in to get out of the cold on Thursday. “Although most of the people that come don’t buy anything, we welcome them into the warmth,” she said.

The Central Park Zoo was also up and running with customers throughout the day, despite many of the outdoor animal exhibits being closed.

The temperatures are expected to rise heading into the weekend, with a high of 21 degrees on Friday and 37 degrees on Saturday, according to The Weather Channel.