Many other cities came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo were closed, along with shopping malls and movie theaters. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region’s only ski area, shut down.
Officials in Chicago and other cities checked on the homeless and shut-ins for fear they might freeze to death on the street or in their homes.
Between a heater that barely works and his drafty windows, Jeffery Davis decided he would be better off sitting in a downtown Chicago doughnut shop for three hours Monday until it was time to go to work.
He threw on two pairs of pants, two T-shirts, “at least three jackets,” two hats, a pair of gloves, the “thickest socks you’d probably ever find” and boots, and trudged to the train stop in his South Side neighborhood that took him to within a few blocks of the library where he works.
“I never remember it ever being this cold,” said Davis, 51. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Elnur Toktombetov, a Chicago taxi driver, hit the road with hot tea and doughnuts, and an hour into his shift, his cab’s windows were still coated with ice on the inside.
People are “really happy to catch the cab. And I notice they really tip well,” he said.
Only a few hardy souls braved the cold on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, normally a busy pedestrian area. Many people downtown used the extensive heated skyway system, where it is warm enough to walk around in office attire. Nearly all stores on the skyway were open as usual.
Jersey Devil Pizza & Wings was not.
“Apologies ... We are East Coast wimps. Too cold! Stay safe, see you Tuesday,” read a sign taped to the door.