Tropical Storm Irene swept through the New York City area on Sunday morning lacking anywhere near the force that had been feared, but still causing some deaths, cutting power to more than a million people, toppling trees and flooding some parts of the city and its suburbs.
New Yorkers were expecting a full-blown hurricane. Though it was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday morning, it left more than one million people in the New York City region without power.
In the aftermath of the city’s biggest hurricane threat in a quarter-century, policemen were seen advising people at Astor Place to go home. Many locals, students and even tourists stood at the famous cube-Tony Rosenthal’s iconic Alamo sculpture-shaking their heads at Gwathmey Siegel’s Sculpture for Living. In some very specific places, the city unfortunately escaped the worst case scenario of massive power outages, shattered skyscraper glass and devastating floods.
More NYU students were gathered at Washington Square Park wishing the Kimmel Center had been damaged enough to justify a makeover. One anonymous student told us, “It functions alright, I mean it has nice computer rooms and my parents have come to see some shows here, but man, it’s hideous. Just look at it! This hurricane is coming and I’m thinking, finally, here’s an opportunity to right a wrong. But then it’s downgraded to a tropical storm and I new it would be ugly forever.”
Not aware of the attitude of many of his constituents, Mayor Bloomberg said at an afternoon news conference. “We will soon turn to return and restore mode.” These are the last words some people wanted to hear.
New Yorkers were in agreement that after three days of warnings, they were expecting a bigger hit.
“I thought it was going to be much worse than this,” said Joe Spelletta, 55, who was walking his dog in Madison Square Park.”This is like a rain and wind storm. I was really hoping that it would take out that black steel monstrosity at the north east corner of the park,” he said as he pointed to the New York Merchandise Mart building at 41 Madison Avenue. Adding, “no such luck.”
Other buildings New Yorkers lamented not seeing damaged by Irene’s wrath include Bernard Tschumi’s “Blue” apartment tower, 520 W. 27th St.-an apartment block adjacent to the Enrique Norten designed ‘Americana’ prison previously reviewed in this magazine, the new canyon of apartment buildings along 6th Avenue in the 20’s where banal glass and stone facades have replaced the antique markets, and many many others.
The mayor announced that the city’s 370,000 evacuees were allowed back in their homes after 3 p.m. Sunday. Unfortunately for many of them, their views will remain intact.