Thursday, July 19, 2007

New York Ain't So New

The steam pipe that exploded yesterday was apparently laid in 1924 and working just fine until yesterday. It's amazing to think that any part of this city's infrastructure is 80 plus years old - think, when that pipe was laid, Fitzgerald hadn't published The Great Gatsby, Hitler was still ranting in German beer halls, and movies were still silent. How much more of this city's physical make up, both above and below ground, is that old? Certainly there are buildings that have existed for more than a century - the Flatiron opened in 1902 (full disclosure: I once worked in it) and many of the more beautiful apartment buildings around town are nearly that old. With the exception of terrorists and arsonists and demolition crews and poor construction, the city's infrastructure has basically just hummed along, housing and supporting 8 million people and their hopes and dreams. What was so unusual about yesterday what that one tiny chink, one little sliver, one minute cog in the enormous wheel that moves this city, just said ... "I'm tired. I've had enough. I give up!" And so it did, causing panic and havoc and injuries and, sadly in one case, death. Yet after 84 years, could you blame it?

So the all of this begs the question: what can the city do? Can we do anything? Should we do anything? We can't rip up the whole city and replace it, nor does anyone really want to. But after yesterday (or more accurately, after 400 years), while grateful that our city hasn't totally fallen apart, we'll just be a little bit more cautious.

Thanks to those of you who viewed my first attempt at live blogging. Since this is not a news blog, it was more of a diversion than a general feature. But this blog tries to be relevant to the times (or more precisely the moment) so whenever the next city emergency happens, Mr NYC will be on the case.

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