Anyone who sat in the dark watching their cell phones die during Superstorm Sandy knows climate change is here to stay. Hurricane season is again upon us, but that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy an overpriced generator, 90 pounds of Poland Spring or hike up your home on 14-foot pilings. Not being a Chicken Little type, I prefer to take advantage of what this city has to offer before another wave of raw sewage brings our bustling metropolis to a halt. So charge up your cell phones, grab a map and enjoy what will eventually be underwater.
First stop…the aquarium? The oldest one continually operating in the United States, to be exact. Coney Island’s New York Aquarium boasts over 350 species of aquatic wildlife. Actually, make that 349 species. During Sandy, 150 koi that were being held in temporary pools drowned in the flooding. All repairs have been completed and the aquarium is not only open but thriving with a new state-of-the-art, $157 million shark exhibit. Visit now while they are safely ensconced behind glass.
The lines might be longer after a big storm, but at least you’re not waiting for gas.
Who needs the High Line when you can take the “Low Line,” a.k.a. the Hudson River Greenway? The 11-mile path suffered minor flooding and damage, but not enough to stop the amply-padded, cleated cyclists. Pedestrians beware! Start at Fort Tryon Park and meander down. Along the way, you can check out the George Washington Bridge, outdoor movies at Pier 84 and all those Intrepid tourists. For a more modest expedition, begin in Chelsea to peruse art in the trendy, recently-drowned galleries. Enjoy a cold one at The Frying Pan on Pier 66, voted one of the douchiest bars by Complex Magazine.
At the end of the bike path, take a relaxing 5.2 mile–ride on the Staten Island Ferry, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Unless there’s a hurricane, of course. During Superstorm Sandy, the heroic ferry crew docked on the Staten Island side of the terminal to keep the fleet safe. They rode the ferries like bucking broncos, maneuvering the unwieldy ships to prevent them from crashing into the shore with sea levels almost 13 feet higher than normal. Now if they could just get tourists to get off the boat and visit Staten Island—that would be truly heroic.
This will be much easier when the New York Wheel is completed. Slated to open in 2017, the 630-foot-high, 60-story observation wheel will be the tallest in the world. Climate be damned, the observation pods will offer some of the best views of the city, including downtown Manhattan in a blackout and the Statue of Liberty wading in 20 feet of storm surge.
Anything in the five boroughs close to the water is worth a final visit.
If thinking about climate change is depressing and you prefer to bury your head in the sand, dine in some of the city’s most oblivious neighborhoods: the Upper West Side, Park Slope and Williamsburg. While the rest of the city sat helpless with flashlights and rotting food in their fridges, these New Yorkers were enjoying a $310 prix fixe at Per Se or a perfectly grilled, grass-fed burger at Thistle Hill—all with electricity! The lines might be longer after a big storm, but at least you’re not waiting for gas. Bon appétit!
If a beach is more your style, take the A train out to the Rockaways—because the newly installed subway, the rebuilt boardwalk and the Rockaway Dune Restoration won’t last long. It’s a barrier island, after all. In the next hurricane, Rockaway, Long Beach and Fire Island will be like the 13-year-old drummer boys in the front of the army at Gettysburg. They’re just not going to make it. Still, on a hot summer day, it’s easy to forget that the powdery white sand was recently piled four feet high in people’s living rooms. A 50-minute ride from Manhattan and always more down-to-earth than the Hamptons, a trip to the Rockaways can’t be beat.
Suffice it to say, anything in the five boroughs close to the water is worth a final visit. In fact, download any city government flood map and have fun! Start with Zone A areas and work your way out. You will create memories that last a lifetime, or at least archive footage for when it’s gone forever.
Photo courtesy of Flickr