Manhattan's trademark is its busyness, its height, its scale. Manhattan, apart from the city at large and apart from nearly everywhere else in the world, is a symbol of mania, a thicket of stacks of people working and living. Manhattan is a target center of information and culture that thrives on a million overlapping pulses that build and cancel like ripples. There is nowhere like it. Usually.
I used to live near Chinatown, just above downtown Manhattan at the island's lower tip. Chinatown is mostly low buildings, three or four stories, meaning that its activity spills onto the streets. Vendors and hustlers and tourists crowd sidewalks, bargaining and buying and trying frustratedly to get by. Many of the residents of Chinatown are poor; our apartment just off Canal Street was directly above an apartment of the same size that housed four times as many people, in little cubbies carved up with hanging sheets. Chinatown is a particular reflection of the hecticness of Manhattan, its own flavor of urgency.
Today, when I walked through, three days after Sandy, it was quiet. Walking down the Bowery -- a street whose poverty is so well-established as to give it a patina of hipness -- I passed fewer and fewer people, and the people I passed were obviously poorer and poorer. At the lip of Chinatown, down where the Manhattan Bridge arrives from Brooklyn, there was almost no one. Just a few people crossing the street and, as at every corner, cops directing traffic in lieu of working stoplights. The usual streetside salespeople were mostly gone, the deep storefronts either gated or dark.
As I kept heading south, I finally came upon a long line of people standing behind a barricade. Aware of reports of long waits for transit, I naively asked one of the cops standing at the head of the line near a small bus if the people were waiting for a shuttle to Brooklyn. No, she replied. They're waiting for food and water.
Since 2008, the number of countries audited by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has declined sharply, down by more than 60 percent. Only three countries were audited last year -- visited in person by FSIS officials, who do a thorough pat down of operations and equipment -- compared to 30 in 2008 (infographic!).
Along the Eastern seaboard, Sandy devastated the rich and poor alike. But they've not been equally equipped to deal with that devastation.
In economically stratified New York City, some had the luxury of making sure their loved ones were comfortable and their homes as protected as possible, while others had to keep on earning a much-needed paycheck despite the rising waters. From David Rohde in The Atlantic:
Divides between the rich and the poor are nothing new in New York, but the storm brought them vividly to the surface. There were residents like me who could invest all of their time and energy into protecting their families. And there were New Yorkers who could not.
Those with a car could flee. Those with wealth could move into a hotel. Those with steady jobs could decline to come into work. But the city's cooks, doormen, maintenance men, taxi drivers and maids left their loved ones at home.
Check out this bizarre video of Mitt Romney at a campaign rally talking about superstorm Sandy and its aftermath. Climate activist Ted Glick (a sometime Grist contributor) interrupts by yelling, "What about climate? What about climate? That's what caused this monster storm," and holding up a sign that says, "End climate silence." See what happens next:
Oh dang. Many d(r)owntown New Yorkers may still not have the power to vote Tuesday, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is flexing his own powers today with a new endorsement of Barack Obama (made, like a boss, via op-ed for his own news organization).
The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief ...
Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week’s devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. ...
We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption ...
From where I live, on the Upper (upper) West Side of Manhattan, getting to the park on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge would normally be trivial. Take the 2 or 3 express train down, go under the East River, get off at Clark Street in Brooklyn, walk a few blocks. But here's the problem with doing that today: The line ends at 34th Street -- about 70 blocks from my house, but still about 50 blocks and one river from Brooklyn.
My normal commute is from the bedroom to the living room, somewhat less difficult than, say, those trying to make their way in from Brooklyn. So in order to get a sense for what a commute might be like -- or, really, what getting around the city at all is like -- I decided to live-blog a trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park, using whatever transportation methods I can.
In New Jersey, three things are in short supply: electricity, gasoline, and patience. Predictions that Sandy would result in increased gasoline supply due to fewer drivers were completely wrong -- primarily because the scale of the storm far exceeded expectations. Cute experiments aside, gasoline has been the go-to method of generating power in blacked-out areas. Add in crippled public transit and that means demand has soared, leading to scenes like the one above.
New York taxi and car service companies started pulling vehicles off the road on Thursday as the fuel crunch deepened, with the vast majority of storm-hit service stations in the greater New York area now out of gasoline or without power.
Power outages and fuel shortages have forced many gasoline stations to shut, and now threaten efforts in New York and New Jersey to get back to business after Hurricane Sandy.
Many homes and businesses that have lost power are also reliant on gasoline and diesel run generators, including many of the Wall Street banks in lower Manhattan. …
"Did you ever think you'd see this again?" one driver was heard saying through his car's open window.
Is this -- a storm like this that is so strong and so unusual -- a global warming incident? I think what is clear is the climate is changing, nobody knows if it is a [cyclical] or secular thing. I think each of these storms we have to learn to see if we can do some things better the next time.
Bloomberg has long been a leader on climate change, including helping to found C40, a group that focuses on how a shifting climate will affect cities. In light of that, questioning the cause seemed out of character.
Last night, he returned to form -- and explained his somewhat nuanced position more fully.
The scale and destruction of Hurricane Sandy has made the issue of climate change impossible to ignore. It's as if the media and politicians are at last free to discuss something they have been keeping secret -- which is basically the case.