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Relive snow-swept 1920’s Chicago in these 10 photos

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Will the city ever see this much snow again?

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Only tough souls make it through Chicago winters. The only thing you can really count on is the true unpredictability of the season. Regardless of the temperatures, snowfall and storms there’s a beauty to this icy, brutal season.

In the Chicago History Museum archives we found a handful of images, most of them taken by Chicago Daily News photographers, that show a milkman making deliveries by horse and sled, old-fashioned snow plow trucks and even a group of camels in a snow-covered downtown alleyway. Even back then through all the snow and ice, life moved on.

Most of the photos were taken in 1929, when the city saw a snowfall of 58 inches, according to the National Weather Service Chicago records. The city’s snowiest winter was 1978 to 1979 when there was almost 90 inches of snow. Our least snowy season was 1920 to 1921. Just 9.8 inches all winter.

Portrait of mail carrier delivering Christmas mail through the snow to a woman in Chicago, Illinois in 1929. Sorenson is standing at the bottom of the steps where Mrs. Webb is standing as she receives several packages.
A mail carrier on N. Sorenson Street delivering Christmas mail through the snow in 1929.
Chicago History Museum
Image of a horse pulling a man who is standing in a milk delivery sled, through the snow in Chicago, Illinois. In the background are several large, single family homes, trees and a street light.
A milk man making deliveries on a horse and sled.
Chicago History Museum
Image of snow storm scene at LaSalle Street depot in Chicago, Illinois. On the right, train cars are stopped at the station. On the left, a locomotive is pulling in to the station under the roof. Three men are standing in the snow
A locomotive train pulls into the station in the 1920s.
Chicago History Museum
Image of water intake cribs by the lakeshore covered with ice from a storm in Chicago, Illinois. Two figures are standing just beyond the cribs near the water. One has an arm raised. A steamer is visible on the water in the distance.
Water intake cribs near the lake are covered with ice from a winter storm in 1929.
Chicago History Museum
Image of a man standing in knee deep snow next to an automobile with snow piled on the roof, hood and around the wheels on a street in Chicago, Illinois. A streetcar (trolley car) is moving through the snow past the automobile on the right.
A man stranded in knee-deep snow next to his car watches a trolley car pass by in 1929.
Chicago History Museum
Informal portrait of skier Anders and St. Paul Ski Club skier Lars Haugen holding skis and poles, on a wide, snow-covered pathway in or near Chicago, Illinois. Crowds are lining both sides of the path, and a building is visible in the background
Portrait of skiers Anders and Lars Haugen at the bottom of a hill in 1926.
Chicago History Museum
Image of a police officer carrying a woman in a fur coat over a snow drift which has buried an automobile parked on a street in Chicago, Illinois. Street lights and snow drifts line the background of the image.
A police officer rescues a woman in a fur coat from a snow drift that has buried a car.
Chicago History Museum
Image of a snow plow truck with a blower, clearing snow from a large, flat area in Chicago, Illinois.
A snow plow truck with a blower in the 1920s
Chicago History Museum
Image of children waving as they are sledding down a hill in Chicago, Illinois. Three sleds with two children apiece are heading down the hill toward the camera. At the top of the hill four people are standing, one with a sled. To the left of th
Kids sled down a hill on of Chicago’s parks in 1929.
Chicago History Museum