Hurricane Sandy: a walking survey of Manhattan on Halloween

After spending several days hunkered down under stormy winds and cloudy skies, the sky broke on Wednesday morning and it was time to venture out to survey the scene.

Two days after the storm, it was Halloween in Manhattan. And it was by far the creepiest Halloween I can ever remember. It seems Mother Nature chose “Treat” and the tri-state area got ravaged by the annual storm of century.

Immediately things didn’t seem right when I stepped out on Columbus Avenue and there was gridlock traffic. It is usually smooth sailing, not today.

I had seen the posterchild dangling crane on the news but it was still a shock to look over at Columbus Square and see it right there.

Looks shady to me.

The streets were cleared for blocks and the Superman signal was lit.

Curious to know the backstory: Crane ruptures on the tallest residential building in Manhattan, including at least one $90 million apartment. That karmic story would make a great screenplay.

This particular detour caused havoc on the rest of traffic all across upper midtown west.

I have no idea how that happened. All I know it was a crazy storm!

The parks were closed all the way down.

Central park was ravaged and lost many.

FedEx had everything out trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

This Starbucks on 26th and Broadway was the last one with power before the dark zone. It was packed. When I was in the powerless region below 25th street, I was asked many times where I got that Starbucks.

Familiar landscape, eire lack of traffic lights and a certain stillness.

I think traffic actually ran better without lights. Everyone I saw was driving very responsibly–unlike every other time I have seen Manhattan traffic.

It was so empty.

Bodegas were still open through the darkness.

Outside the W Hotel in Union Square, Olives was closed but the wi-fi still worked so folks were lined up to communicate. I didn’t really get it until I went further downtown myself, where there is no cell service either.

Con Ed had a convoy parked at Union Square to deal with the transformer at 14th street that blew during the storm.

Union Square was trashed.

When have you ever seen Union Square empty at 1 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Ghost. Town.


Since there was no power or phone lines, the FDNY was actively patrolling.

This guy was having fun dancin’ in the streets.

This is Houston, usually slammed with traffic just about any time of day.

This is that same firetruck as before, several blocks down now in Soho.

Only in Soho would the vents sealed with Aldo tape.

Gave me time to catch up reading all those signs I missed earlier.

This is not from the hurricane but gives a glimpse of the kind of infrastructure that makes up this, the greatest of cities.

Checking in on the One Rockwell offices, although not much to report with an electric key card and elevator between me and the actual office.

It was really bad down there.

A unique chance to view the stunning architecture.

The look frozen in New York’s face from the wrath of Sandy. (Installation by JR.)

Another JR installation, ironically appropriate in sentiment.

NYPD out in droves.

The lines for the bus were untenable.

Further towards the west side highway there was more obvious damage.

Looking over to Jersey City I can see why just a slight rise in sea level can really hit a lot.

Aside from the destruction, the trees were beautiful.


This steak house brought out barbecues to the street and there was a line up the block for some hot gourmet burgers.

Residents collecting water.

After walking about 150 blocks at this point, from 100th street to Canal and back up to 23rd, I stopped to sit down for a moment at a pub that was open. Creepy. In the course of one drink, 3 very strange characters stopped by and the owner was nervously chasing off the sketchier of them like flies.

Takes on a whole new meaning.

Times Square did not get the memo, however. Interesting to see how people just blocks away were without electricity, heat or water, but the lights here were blazing absurdly bright.

OMG, would love to take the bus at this point, but that ain’t happening.

After traffic started moving after the dangling crane detour, we managed to squeeze in the bus, but it was rough. Smashed face to face with 100 fellow New Yorkers.

God Bless these people for looking out for us.

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