On a normal day, New York's subway system is magical. That the largest city in the United States, one of the densest and tallest places on Earth, should have running beneath it an intricate, extensive series of tubes linked at various places to the surface is an achievement we rarely reflect upon. Right now, as they have been for months, crews are digging a new tunnel along Second Avenue, a brand new subway line, under homes and stores and businesses like it's just the regular way things are done.
Public transit is never simple, but when it's done elegantly and well, it seems like simplicity incarnate. Go down, get on the train, get off where you wanted to be.
Sandy shook that. For a week, the subways were soaked and silent. For the first two days after the storm, New Yorkers were immobile. But only for two days. What happened next, as the head of one riders' advocacy group told the Times, "borders on the edge of magic."