The 1938 hurricane was dubbed "The Long Island Express." (Our modern naming conventions were not then in use.) It flooded Manhattan all the way up to Canal Street.
Waves 20-50 feet high crashing on the shore registered on seismographs in Alaska. More than 600 people were killed, many of them children. Katherine Hepburn barely escaped. The History Channel did a show on the hurricane a while back, and it is intriguing how closely the Long Island Express matched conditions for this year's Sandy. Instead of dying out over the colder North Atlantic, it was pinned between two highs and prevented from turning east. Plus the autumn equinox and a full moon meant it was driving unusually high tides before it.
The eight-part History Channel show starts here:
Of particular interest is how little meteorologists had to go on in 1938. No radar, let alone satellite imagery. Even the idea of using physics rather than experience was brand new and contrary to today, the one young junior meteorologist who called it right was ignored by the senior forecasters.