NEW YORK — Ordinarily, veteran New Yorkers don’t like to be caught looking up. But when a power center loses its power, it’s no ordinary tourist sight. Residents stared open-mouthed Tuesday at the darkened, sodden outline of the Manhattan financial district left by Hurricane Sandy. A triangular shard of glass hung, shivering, from a blown-out office window, revealing an empty brown desk. The steps of the mighty JPMorgan Chase building looked like a muddy shore. Strings of stoplights swung in the wind, dead as fish eyes.
In the thick-stoned Wall Street area, buildings that a day ago seemed impregnable now looked pathetically defenseless, their vestibules and mezzanines turned into deep swimming holes. Here and there, small piles of sandbags leaned on doorways, pitiful sops against a storm surge of 9.2 feet. Up and down the avenues, the eerie quiet was broken by the hum of engineers working generators and pumps belching water from the lobbies through hoses and sending it into the gutter, where it ran dirty and rainbowed with oil. “In some buildings the water is waist-deep in the lobbies,” said Bob Levey, chief engineer at 48 Wall St.