Bricks & Snow Removal in Baltimore

Baltimore Lore


1922 snow baltimore

Removing snow by the cart-full in Baltimore in 1922. (Image courtesy of

During these wintry times, when the majesty of falling snow has given way to the dread of dealing with mounds of it, let us pause and recall that our aching backs and calloused hands are nothing new, that our forefathers and mothers had to shovel out their wagons, de-ice their single-pane windows, and plow, or rather roll, the streets with snow rollers.
Until 1862, when Milwaukee adopted the first snow plows, snow rollers would be used to compact the snow, making streets passable. These rollers actually made the streets more passable, as the compacted snow served as a perfect surface for ski and sled-mounted vehicles.
Besides the rollers, cities heavily relied on their citizenry (and occasionally their police forces) to remove the snow. Snow was a major physical obstacle, something that appeared somewhat regularly and had to be regulated as such.
In the Baltimore of 1858, this regulation came in the form of Ordinance No. 33, Sec. 31. The broad ordinance was designed to “restrain evil practices…and to remove nuisances.” Sec. 31 dealt with snow removal from footpaths, and mirrors modern regulations: essentially, folks were required to clear the footpaths that fronted their property within three hours of snow falling.

brick and snow regs

What’s odd is the placement of this Section: it comes directly after Sec. 30 (not the odd part) which deals with brick kiln regulations! One can imagine the drafters of the city ordinances creating their list of nuisances, and saying, “Heavens yes, we must certainly regulate the foul odours and displeasing smoke coming from those brick kilns. Hmmm, you know what else is equally as problematic? Snow!”

3 thoughts on “Bricks & Snow Removal in Baltimore

  1. Max:


    Forwarded to my son, wife and child, now adult, former Baltimore residents, Utah street I believe.

    Hope you-all warm, dry and enjoying life.


    Martin Wallen, PE WALLEN ASSOCIATES Transportation & Traffic Engineering

    5219 Massachusetts Ave. Bethesda, MD 20816 301-910-0540



  2. The timing of this story is appropriate. However, you started out by talking about snow removal but, you didn’t show the whole text of the ordinance, Section 31, regarding the removal of snow from the “footpaths.” That is the primary subject of the story with the brick kiln part, Section 30, the secondary subject. Obviously, the streets were paved with bricks but, were those “footpaths” brick, also?


  3. I can’t imagine living in the olden days trying to clear snow. That sounds like an awful time. The photos are also really interesting to look at. It’s like a different world compared to today. Thank goodness for modern snow plows!


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