On October 29, Earth’s full moon brought tides to their highest levels in New York harbor.
Fatefully, on the same evening, a tropical cyclone, Sandy, slammed into the coast. Hard rain and 80mph wind pushed the churning East River over its banks, inundating the canyons of downtown Manhattan, The Rockaways, Staten island, Red Hook, and Coney Island.
In 24 hours, the city remapped itself. Drowned subways returned to primordial underground waterways, prompting the MTA to issue revised maps of a disturbing new topography. The dark-zone of lower Manhattan stood dull and against the light of the city, its precincts emptied out. New neighborhoods emerged in evacuation centers...
This Island Earth
Most of the photos of downtown New York in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath show deserted streets.
My neighborhood is normally characterized by honking taxis, overflowing sidewalk restaurants, and partygoers who spill out of the hotel bars and onto the cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking district. On a typical Saturday night, I wake up once or twice to the sound of blaring horns or I crawl over to the window to watch drugged-out, drunken women screaming at their lovers.
But electricity in my neighborhood fizzled out on Monday night. After a few days without power, the crowded nightlife and commercial world of the Meatpacking district had given way to emptiness.