As many of you know, the Hurricane Sandy did quite some damage in the Caribbean islands and the US east coast. The worlds is looking at New York, but most of the damages occurred in New Jersey as far as the United States are concerned. However, since I live in New York myself, I thought that I would write something about the current stunning situation that is happening in South Manhattan before trying to articulate something a little bit more ambitious very soon.
There is currently a line traced by 34th street (in reality, the line is slightly more blurry than that) that separates the North and South of Manhattan and thus present a striking metaphor of the world we live in. In fact, the entire part of Manhattan south of this street does not have access to electricity, gas and water while the north part continues to live in opulence as symbolized by the blinding lights of Time Square (above 42nd street). In the South, lines of people wait to be able to buy some food to the rare food trucks and the NYU hospital had to be evacuated. In the North, the jewelry stores of Madison avenue, even closed shine of all lights. In the South, people have to walk or ride their bike to the North to be able to speak to their relatives on the phone or buy bottles of water that they will need to carry back to their homes. Of course, a large amount of them used to be the same opulent New Yorkers few days ago, but now they have to cope with a lack of any form of infrastructure.
This situation can probably be observed in almost every city that just suffered from a climatic catastrophe; however, in the case of Manhattan, the visual contrast offered by this clear limit of North and South (reinforced by the island’s narrowness) expresses in a very visual manner, the collisions of two extremes. Walking in the South at night provides a unique experience that photographs fails to capture (see below). Cars, trucks and bikes, deprived from traffic lights have to negotiate between each other in an interesting social experiment. At the very south of the island, only the skyscraper of Goldman Sachs, veritable micro-self-sustaining-nation shines arrogantly in this absolute darkness…
Of course, things are not as simple as Time Square shutting down and the whole South of Manhattan recovering its electricity and water…but just like this situation is a metaphor of the current world, it seems impossible to think that some substantial efforts of the North in that way would not grandly improve the condition of the South.