Escape from New York

So last week was the annual PhotoPlus Expo in New York City, and I attended for the first time.  It was fun and exciting and I met a lot of great people, and just being in New York again was great.  I got to spend the week hanging out with my brother!  We went to a taping of The Colbert Report!  It was an eventful trip for sure, and full of fun fodder for blog posts.  But the really big deal was Hurricane Sandy.

The expo began on the 25th of October and ran only through the 27th, but I decided to linger in town afterward and see some things, as you do when you visit New York.  How long to stay was kind of up in the air.  Halloween was the deciding factor.  It’s my favorite holiday (obviously), and my brother clued me in to the Village Halloween Parade, which has been a yearly tradition since 1974, and one that by all accounts is pretty outstanding.  It’s the largest Halloween event in the country, often referred to as “New York’s Carnival”, and the New York Times described it as “the best entertainment the people of this city ever give the people of this city”.  USA Today says to “be prepared to drop your jaw”, and that “anything goes”.  The Fodor’s travel guide calls it “bizarre but brilliant”.
So, done.  Sold.  I had me at “largest Halloween event”, and I didn’t see why I would want to miss such a thing, so I got a return ticket home for the first of November.  As it happened, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record hit the eastern coast on Monday, October 29.

I didn’t have the full, miserable Sandy experience that those on the lower east side did, let alone the unfortunate inhabitants of the Jersey shore.  I was staying in Midtown with my brother.  It was windy and we got a little wet, but that was about the extent of it.  We didn’t even lose power.  Actually, if you’d like to see how the ordeal played out in the two areas of Manhattan, The Daily Show did their usual excellent job of highlighting the difference.

I went out and walked around with my camera in loafers, jeans, and a sweatshirt when the storm hit (I’d left my hurricane parka and waders at home because I didn’t think I’d need them).  The winds were stronger than anything I’d ever experienced.  I don’t weigh much, and a few times was almost blown off my feet.  Still, I fared better than the construction crane at 57th and 6th, which collapsed and dangled about 80 stories above the street.  Police swarmed the area and cordoned it off a couple blocks in every direction.  Neighboring hotels were evacuated, displacing guests onto the wet and windy sidewalks, where they huddled under awnings as they waited to hear where to go next.

Down on the lower east side, Sandy rearranged cars like an angry valet and Consolidated Edison killed power to protect its equipment, should underground conduits become flooded.  Everything south of 39th street would eventually go dark.  I walked down Broadway and across to the water the next day, and took more pictures.  Here are some of the things I saw:

The collapsed crane.

Wicked wind blows leaves, caution tape, and cops as they block the streets surrounding the crane.

I’m not at all dressed for a hurricane.  How embarrassing.

Guests of hotels surrounding the crane line the streets after being evicted.

Mayor Bloomberg shut down the subway system on Sunday night, the 28th, in preparation for the storm.

Outages south of 39th Street.

Breathe easy—the IHOP weathered the storm.

A hurricane enthusiast.

People look through the gate into the garage, where standing water still envelops cars.

The previous night’s water level is still clearly marked on the brick.

Stuyvesant Town cleanup.

The on ramp to the FDR freeway.  There’s typically less pedestrian traffic.

The FDR is shut down, and people walk, bike, and jog on it.  Surreal.

I felt like I was in a zombie movie.

Moody.

Two days after the hurricane, streets in Midtown are still closed because of the crane.

And people are still taking pictures of it.

On my last day in town, with much of Midtown still closed, I decided I’d go for a walk through Central Park.  Ever seen Central Park completely empty?  No?  Neither had I, but the park was closed too, out of concern for the structural integrity of its trees.

A cleanup crew clears downed trees and branches.

Open 24 hours.  Usually.

By the way, the Village Halloween Parade?  Canceled.

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