We set off Friday morning at 10:00 with the thought that we'd sneak in a visit and scurry back ahead of Hurricane Irene. Friday - just 2 days ago -- was beautiful here. By the time we reached the NYC area the skies were gray, the temperature was near 90. We opted for the Tappan Zee Bridge rather than the George Washington Bridge since parts of NYC were already being evacuated. Traffic slowed just a bit as we crossed the bridge, but we made good time and picked up the pace as we headed south on the Garden State Parkway. Northbound the traffic was bumper to bumper for miles and miles.
After a quick visit with relatives in Piscataway, New Jersey, where the the traffic was congested as is typical, hurricane or not, we headed back north to Guttenberg, NJ. Guttenberg is a tiny 4-block wide community west of the Hudson River. It was once a farm, now it is the most densely populated incorporated place in the country.
Midtown Manhattan as viewed from the west side of the Hudson River
just south of Guttenberg,NJ. The bright lights of 42nd Street
are seen in the center of the photo.
The colorful Empire State Building is to the right.
As we turned in for the night we were not yet sure of our plans for Saturday, except that we were heading back to New Hampshire ahead of the oncoming storm. Saturday morning was calm. Srini and I walked down the block to a corner store for coffee. The wall-to-wall television coverage of the hurricane suggested we had just enough time to zip into NYC for a few hours of sightseeing. A 20-minute and $2.50 bus ride from Guttenberg dropped us at the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan. We emerged onto streets full of cabs, but strangely void of people.
We joined a handful of people in Times Square. Quite possibly the fewest number of people ever to gather here in the history of the City. We took a quick cab ride to Rockefeller Center. Here city workers were gently lifting out palm trees from giant planters, laying them on their side, where the trees will rest until Irene passes by.
Palm trees being removed from planters at Rockefeller Center
No one at the GE Building, the centerpiece of Rockfeller Center,
where NBC broadcasts many shows.
The observation deck at the top is open 365 days a year, except today.
Most of the stores were already closed in anticipation of the storm. The subways were closing at noon. We took another quick cab ride to Central Park, just for a peak. A few tourists were still taking rides on the horse-drawn carriages. The Port Authority was mostly empty. We hopped a bus back to Guttenberg. New York City in 2 hours and under $20 - it can be done, but only in the event of a hurricane.