Saturday, November 03, 2012
Arriving at 34th Street, I boarded a free shuttle bus that makes a loop through Midtown, and dropped me off two blocks from where I work. Elapsed time door to door was about an hour and a half, because I just missed a ferry and had to wait twenty minutes for the next one. Also, the shuttle bus had to negotiate heavy traffic.
On Thursday, I left work at 4:15 to avoid the rush, and was able to get on one of the free shuttle buses the MTA was running from Midtown to Brooklyn during the subway blockage. There was a small group waiting for the bus at Lexington Avenue between 54th and 55th streets, so I was able to get on and find a seat. The bus became very crowded when we stopped near Grand Central Station, It took us about an hour to get to Jay Street in Brooklyn, about a ten minute walk from where I live.
On Friday I left work at about the same time, but found the sidewalks near the bus pickup so crowded that I decided to walk down to the ferry terminal. A few blocks below 42nd Street, I noticed there were no more traffic lights, or lights of any kind. I had entered the blacked out zone. When I got to the 34th Street terminal, I found a line of people waiting to get on the ferry that extended as far as I could see. Since ferry service was to stop at 6:00, I decided that it was likely not all of these people were going to get on. My only realistic option was to walk home, something I did before during the December 2005 transit strike.
I walked south on First Avenue, past the blacked out New York University and Bellvue hospitals, both of which had been evacuated. As I passed shuttered restaurants and bodegas, I noticed the pungency of decaying food. After I crossed 14th Street, I passed a little cafe that was lit up and crowded with people. "Does that place have its own generator?" I wondered. Then I noticed that the pedestrian crossing signal ahead of me was working. After four days of blackout, power had been restored to the East Village.
A resident celebrated by playing his electric guitar on the fire escape.
Subway service has now been restored between Brooklyn and Manhattan, so my commuting will no longer be so adventurous.