Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dark Manhattan

Michael and I walked down to the river front park in Williamsburg to see what we could see.  I took my trusty little digital camera, and here is what we saw.

The contrast between darkened Lower Manhattan and the rest of the city was stark.

On the right is Lower Manhattan, on the left is downtown Brooklyn

Tonight, the World Trade Center was all lit up again; last night it was dark as everything else.  No one lives there.  Hundreds of thousands of people live in the darkened buildings in the foreground.

The Manhattan tower of the Williamsburg Bridge as dark as the neighborhood behind it

The Williamsburg Bridge; half of it has power, the other half is in the dark.

The East Village in darkness; against the sunset, you can see the tower of Redeemer Catholic Church on East 3rd Street.

In a delicious bit of irony, the ConEd building on East 14th Street is in the dark.  Only its clock and top are lit, I presume by batteries.

The 14th Street Power Station; this is the one that had the explosion.  Some of the lights are back on at the station.  Last night, it was totally dark except for the construction lights you see on the left foreground.

The line between who has light and who does not is a sharp one, right at 31st Street.  In the foreground are riverfront apartment towers that are completely dark and without power.  Behind are the brightly lit towers of Midtown, including the Chrysler Building.

The Empire State Building lit up for the holiday

The Upper East Side up to the 59th Street Bridge all lit up as is normal for all of Manhattan

Michael in front of the Williamsburg Bridge

Yours Truly with the Upper East Side and Midtown behind

This is the third day of the Hurricane Sandy blackout going into a 4th.  This is a major hardship for thousands of people, but especially for elderly shut-ins in the housing projects on the Lower East Side.  Not only are all the lights out (it gets pitch dark in the hallways of these buildings, I speak from experience), but the elevators are out, and in buildings over 6 floors, there is no running water, no toilets.  Tall buildings require pumps to move water through the plumbing, and when the electricity goes out, so do the pumps.
Food is starting to become a major problem in Lower Manhattan.  There is no refrigeration and no deliveries.  All but the hardiest delis and bodegas are closed.  Those few that are open don't have much to sell and are only taking cash.  Restaurants and diners are closed.  Most perishable food has spoiled by now.  So, there are now large efforts, both public and private, to get food and fresh drinking water into Lower Manhattan.

I have a lot of friends who live in Lower Manhattan, and I'm slowly hearing from all of them.  Some have left to stay with friends and relatives for the duration.  Others are staying, and are determined to tough it out.  So far as I know, there has been no looting in Manhattan, though blacked out Coney Island suffered some looting.  People are looking out for each other, especially for their elderly neighbors.

After this crisis, after the 2003 Blackout, and especially after September 11th, I agree more and more with Albert Camus' conclusion that ordinary people are better than the experts claim.  This most nakedly Social Darwinist of all cities ("New York, Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten" said a tee shirt I saw years ago) can really pull together in times of crisis. 


June Butler said...

My heart goes out to the people in Lower Manhattan. I hope they get the help they need. I confess I'm surprised that Bloomberg decided to go ahead with the marathon, which is, in itself, a logistical challenge and will tie up city workers at the very time when inhabitants of the city are in desperate need of their services.

Counterlight said...

There is indeed a lot of unhappiness and resentment over the Marathon this year.

JCF said...

...which is why he (Bloomburg) reconsidered.

I understand the power is coming back on in LowerMan.

I just heard from a friend in NJ, and her power came back on in the middle of the night last night (she says, never was she more happy to be unexpectedly awoken).

Hang in there, everybody!