Posted tagged ‘NYC after Sandy’

Time To Vote, and a Reminder

November 6, 2012

It’s Voting Day!

All morning, a light, steady stream of voters has been passing back and forth along 109th Street to and from their polling place.

For many people whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Sandy, voting will be difficult. Governor Cuomo has issued an Executive Order, allowing them to cast “an affadavit ballot” at any polling place in New York State.  New Jersey has made it possible for citizens to vote by email. All I have to do is walk around the corner. Whatever you have to do to get to your polling place and whatever lines you may face when you get there, please vote.

As if we needed further clarification, Hurricane Sandy came along to make the choice even clearer for anyone who cares about the planet and the living beings that inhabit it. Here’s a mild reminder of the consequences of climate change, even in the least damaged areas of Manhattan:

On Friday, we made our way down from Morningside Heights to the Bowery. The power had not yet been restored in downtown Manhattan. Our mission was to pick up my mother from her Village apartment where she had and, while we were in the area, deliver peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the Bowery Mission.

We sailed down the West Side Highway, moving smoothly from power to no power. Here are the last working traffic lights.

The Village was strangely empty.

Empty, empty, empty.

On the Bowery, shops were closed.

Bikes and buses ruled the road.

The Bowery Mission was the only open door around..

But then, the Bowery Mission is “Always Open.”

When I dropped off the sandwiches in the stone-cold lobby, the bundled-up receptionist told me there were 80 residents at the time. But the Mission is also helping anyone in the area who is in need – which is, post-Sandy, a lot of people.  They were expecting two trucks full of supplies at any moment, one of which arrived while we were there.

Men came in and out of the open door.

We headed up to Washington Square Village, where voting machines were already stacked up in the lobby, waiting for Tuesday.  This is a regular polling place.

The message on the machines is clear: VOTE!

So VOTE already. It matters. The only hope of mitigating the climate change, already affecting us so dramatically, is to elect public officials who accept reality, then push them to take action. Maybe they’ll even start uttering the dread words, “climate change.”

The View from my Window: Red-tailed Hawks and City Buses

November 1, 2012

Good morning, New York.

Up here in Morningside Heights, the sounds of the city have almost returned to normal.  It’s the traffic that does it, of course.  The quiet of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was lovely, but strange. The belch and rumble  of buses, back in service yesterday, brought the noise level close to its urban norm.

Mass transit has returned to upper Manhattan.

But even from my perch six stories above the street,  it’s the recurrent rumble of the Number One train up and down Broadway that gives the city soundscape its essential ground-note.  The subways started early this morning Now the only sounds missing are the constant squeals and screams of schoolchildren as they cycle all day through the playground behind my building, and the sharp  hollering through a megaphone of the drill sergeant, er, I mean, teacher, who minds them.  (For those of you not from NYC, school has been cancelled for the rest of the week.)

We did see and hear trick-or-treaters on the street last night.

Trick or treaters head out in search of a sugar fix.

With my mobility still limited by recent foot surgery, I’ve been feeling a bit like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window as I work by the window with camera and binoculars at the ready.

Jimmy Stewart watches the city in Rear Window.

I’ve witnessed no crimes yet. But I’m happy to say that urban nature is everywhere, even outside my window. The pigeons that use my air conditioning unit as a boudoir have come through the storm just fine.

Pigeons outside my window

And at least two of our local red-tailed hawks also seem to be healthy if, perhaps, hungry.  For two days now, I’ve watched red-tails out my window.  Yesterday at around 4 pm, I was drawn to the window by loud and persistent cawing.  Sure enough, several crows were dive-bombing a red-tailed hawk that perched on a tall building across the street. The crows gave up surprisingly soon, and the hawk sat there, surveying the city, for well over an hour.

NYC red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk surveys his domain

The view must be marvelous.

The hawk is on the corner of the tallest part of the pink building.

Gulls filled the skies to the east, calling and soaring, before sailing off toward the Hudson.

Gulls circle over Morningside Heights.

A lone starling perched atop the school just east and south of the hawk.

Starling on roof of school.

No other small birds were visible. I scanned the water towers for more hawks. Nothing to the north.

Water towers.

Nothing to the northeast.

More water towers.

And nothing to the west, where on Tuesday afternoon, I had watched two red-tails briefly perch before taking to the skies, one heading north and the other south.

NYC water towers on the Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy.

As for other NYC red-tails, Urban Hawks reports that Pale Male is fine up on the Upper East Side as is Rosie of Washington Square down in the Village.

Hope the rest of the urban raptor population has done as well.

A Tale of Two Cities: NYC After Hurricane Sandy

October 31, 2012

New Yorkers woke up this morning to blue skies.

The sunshine was a welcome sight, although clouds rolled back in pretty quickly.

NYC after the storm is a tale of two cities.  Neighborhoods like mine in upper Manhattan had no flooding, no power outages, and withstood the brunt of the storm with relatively little damage. Sure, I heard about a neighbor’s window that shattered in the middle of the storm, and as I posted yesterday, trees are down and businesses and buildings have suffered wind damage. Clean-up is underway.

Fixing the scaffolding above Cascabel Taqueria.

A little over a mile south of here, an enormous tree is apparently still down on Columbus Avenue behind the Museum of Natural History. Due to recent foot surgery, I can’t get out and take photos beyond my narrow home range, but I have it on good authority. But in general, the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights are intact, lively and functioning well. (For more, visit my local on-line newspapers, West Side Rag and My Upper West.)

We’re even getting ready for Halloween.

A firefighter prepares for Halloween on 108th Street and Broadway.

But lower-lying parts of the city remain without power and even, in many cases, without cell phone coverage.  We have no idea how many people, elderly or disabled, are trapped in high-rise apartment buildings with no way out except the stairs. As the hours and days mount, people may run low on water, food and other supplies. Click the photo below for a link to Gothamist’s article, Outrage in the Powerless Zone: A Dispatch from Lower Manhattan.

A destroyed car near the Jacob Riis Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (photo: Jonathan Maimon/

NYC bloggers are remarkable sources of information on neighborhoods around the city.

On Coney Island, the amazing Tricia Vita writes Amusing the Zillion, which is all Coney all the time. Tricia reports that the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel are standing strong, despite harrowing winds and a five-foot storm surge.  Browse Amusing the Zillion for photos, stories and video. Surf Avenue, Mermaid Avenue and Neptune Avenue were all underwater during the storm, and Mama Burger, the iconic figure atop Paul’s Daughter’s restaurant on the Boardwalk, seems to have been swept away.

Mama Burger in calmer days.

Mama Burger’s burger has been spotted on 15th Street, but Mama herself remains missing. Come back, Mama Burger, come back. Tricia writes: “If you find her please contact Paul’s Daughter at 917-607-4960 or via Facebook.”

Also in Brooklyn is Matthew Wills of Backyard and Beyond, a blog documenting the surprising diversity of nature in the city. Matthew writes life forms ranging from the fungus among us (today’s post), to wasps, birds and horseshoe crabs. He’s as likely to write about a ladybug or tiny spider found in his home as to travel the city to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jamaica Bay, Prospect Park and Four Sparrow Marsh.

The Lo-Down provides news from the Lower East Side, where floodwater from the East River reached beyond Avenue C.

And back uptown on the east side nature beat, Bruce Yolton of photographs Pale Male, NYC’s venerable Fifth Avenue red-tailed hawk, and his ill-fated mates for years now.  Bruce reports that Pale Male has weathered the storm just fine, although as of yesterday’s post, Bruce hadn’t yet seen his mate or his fledglings.

More later from upper Manhattan.

Unicef boxes await ghouls and goblins.

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