Thursday, July 19, 2007

Colleague Convos - Midtown Mayhem

Around six o'clock this evening I received an IM from one of my coworkers on a lower floor of our building.

Lauren: Why are people running down 42nd Street?
Me: What do you mean?
Lauren: Did a building collapse? Turn on the news. I don't have a TV.

So a few of us walked from the 43rd Street side of the office to the side facing 42nd Street and looked down, and sure enough, about 20-some-odd stories below, masses of people were running in the direction of Times Square. Of course, many immediately wondered if it was another act of terrorism. And the photos of bloody and ash-covered pedestrians that were later posted on nytimes.com were certainly reminiscent of September 11.

We were all pretty calm as we returned to our desks, despite the mild chaos outside and began to google news headlines. That's when I overheard Victoria tell another colleague: "A friend of mine just called from Grand Central. He heard a large explosion, the building shook slightly and shortly afterward, the police started telling everyone to run west."

We googled "New York City" and "explosion" and "Grand Central" and a variety of other search terms in hopes of results that would shed light on the situation. Nothing. We went to ny1.com, 7Online.com, cnn.com, msnbc.com. Nothing. WTF. Are reports and webmasters for each of those medium not posted with laptops on every block in this city to report instantaneous headlines? I mean, it's the instant information age ... get with it, newspeople!

Rumors of a transformer explosion spread so we switched up our search terms again. Still nothing. Darn that ConEd, somebody joked. But by the looks of the huge pillar of smoke a few blocks away, some wondered how big the transformer must have been and if that had really been the cause. On the phone with Jenny, Amie (both from the marketing team) said, "Are they sure it's not just a Guerilla marketing campaign for Transformers, the movie?"

Gotta love those marketers. By the time the midtown explosion was making headlines on cnn.com, we were wrapping up our work for the day and trying to decide on another bar in which to unwind since our original plans to gather at a spot near Grand Central had literally blown up in our face. Cell phone service was a bit jammed by the onslaught of callers trying to touch base with loved ones, and a voicemail from my dad finally came through: "Ah, yea, Katie. Hi, it's your dad. I'm assuming that you weren't blasted when 41st Street blew up, but you know, your mom and I just wanted to make sure. Give us a call."

It was much later when we learned that one person died and a few dozen were injured. As SUBWAYblogger posted, it was slightly surprising that more were not killed or injured given that the blast swallowed a tow truck and shattered windows 16 stories up. Joe.My.God works 200 feet from the explosion site, but had already gone home. He posted a few pictures from the Associated Press. And Midwesterner in NYC had a momentary spike in visitors yesterday because he has recently blogged about an apartment explosion, the movie Transformers and his posts generally center around New York City - which I found kind of funny/interesting despite the circumstances.

Subway service on the East Side is running but bypassing Grand Central. West Side transit was unaffected last night and this morning during my commutes, but I did notice that the shuttle to Grand Central was still blocked off in the Times Square terminal while I was on my way to the gym this morning before work. Latest reports indicate that the explosion was caused by an 80-year old steam pipe.

Other than that, another Thursday in New York City is before us.

4 comments:

Little Blue PD said...

Great story, well done! New York! What a town!

So now we have Con Edison and terrorists to worry about.

It happened on the West side of 41st and Lexington Ave. I was like a block away in the office. At first I thought it was thunder, but it just kept going for like over 20 minutes it seemed, then I was out of the area, but they say it lasted for hours, and it was very very loud.

Very scary, the NYPD says it was not terrorism. They say it was a steam explosion. Smoke and steam went up over the 45th floor. There was no black smoke like a fire though. Out the window I saw people running from the area. It was pretty scary, I was positive while in the area that it was terrorism.

There are pictures of a big craterish hole in the middle of the street with a red tow truck sitting in the hole. Terrorists would have had to go under the street to plant some bomb there. That's not the way they would have done it. We all can think of much more effective and easier ways, and better places.

It happened right around the corner from one of the biggest creators of traffic congestion in NYC.

Will Mayor Bloomberg do anything about Park Ave. being blocked off at 42nd street?

I think Mayor Nanny Bloomie is a very arrogant man. I also highly doubt he rides the subway that much. He's the mayor, I want someone driving him around so he can work and make calls and stuff. New Yorkers shouldn't want him wasting all that time on the subway.

We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and then people can just demonize those who oppose it.

If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

It's true, Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion and Air Pollution!

But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg?

It certainly supports his claim that the city is hugely congested.

Check out the map! Tell your friends!

http://whataplanet.blogspot.com
http://preview.tinyurl.com/38obfd

Check it out!

Thanks!

:)

dmbmeg said...

Dude, Midwesterner is going to be pissed you left this comment on someone else's blog.

And I thought he meant something to you.

Midwesterner in NYC said...

And I thought we had something special 'Little Blue PD'

Dina said...

I was wondering how you were doing. It must be a little nervy seeing a bunch of smoke, people running...good thing you guys weren't having cocktail around there!!