Hurricane Sandy and New York City and the black out of ‘65

by RQ on November 11, 2012







In 1965 New York City went dark. Weather was never a factor. The electric company, a monopoly called Con Edison, just screwed up. The thing is, the word terrorism was not in fashion until November 2004, when a United Nations Secretary Generalreport described terrorism as any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population”.(Wikipedia).

The fear of attack was not in the air. Even the word sabotage, a much more romantic concept, was missing from the media. And with no electricity, there was no media, just the good old newspapers the next day. There were no cell phones so it was really quite common to be out of touch with you family. I was a boy and it was an adventure. We just enjoyed the ride.

New York was a less complicated place than the city hit by Sandy last week. Before Soho was Soho (south of Houston, by the way), and Tribeca was Tribeca  (triangle below Canal), Lower Manhattan was an exotic nether zone of Chinatown, Little Italy,  the meat-packing district  and many unknowable streets with names like Peck Slip that didn’t conform to the grid.Nobody lived down there. It was Wall Street and warehouses.  But the beat went on. It was a straggly magical night for a boy of 12. Mysterious yet familiar. The streets had cars but no lights. The glow of the city was muted and we navigated by boyish instinct, loving every minute. The impossible was happening and we were wondering around in it.

But as the expression goes, “come hell or high water” New York City never stopped. The bridges and tunnels never closed, the subway ran in the worst storms and the taxis were always out in force. Evacuation was unheard of.

Experiencing the passage of time via new technologies like television, air travel, cell phones is one thing, experiencing the evolution of Mother Nature is quite another. It’s the second time in two years that lower Manhattan was evacuated. I don’t know about” hell”, but I believe” high water” has come and times have indeed changed.

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