Over the past decade, Gen-Y’ers have flocked to cities, driven by the desire to be close to work and in walkable neighborhoods. We have a preference for vibrant, active urban neighborhoods with amenities that enhance the urban experience. However, what happens when catastrophic events disrupt this environment?

In the aftermath of Sandy, I’ve learned a lot about New York City and general city-living. Since Monday evening, I have largely lived without power, internet access, cell service, and public transportation. Stripping these aspects of life has revealed a lot about the city I live in.

Life Without Subways
New York City has never felt so crowded; the sidewalks are overrun by pedestrians seeking an open outlet and a hot shower. Bike lanes are packed with people commuting to work, bus lines stretch around the corner, and finding an open cab is harder than getting good cell signal. We rarely think about how vital the subway system is to NYC. The subway connects the city and allows workers to easily access any area of this massive metropolis. Shutting this system down completely disrupts daily life.

NYC Bus Line Stretched Down The Block

Banding Together
In the face of unfathomable destruction, loss of life, and disrupted families, residents have banded together. I’ve witnessed countless acts of kindness; stores are creating free charging stations, strangers are offering rides uptown, there’s free coffee, friends have offered couches to sleep on, and companies have put work in the backseat to ensure employees safety and well-being. It is instances like this that put life into perspective and make the things that we usually get hung up on seem trivial.

Stores such as 7-Eleven Opened Free Cell Phone Charging Stations

A Tale of 3 New York’s
There are currently 3 New York’s; downtown remains underwater, Soho though Midtown is dark and deserted, and uptown life goes on virtually unchanged.

This clip from Jon Stewart sums it up nicely.

What has been reinforced over the past 72 hours of living and staying in the city post Sandy is that there’s vibrant nightlife, eclectic restaurants, and interesting people banding together in every neighborhood. Each day, after work, I join the mass exodus heading uptown toward the lights and flow into one of the many uptown and lit crowded bars and restaurants. After a meal and a few stiff drinks, I meander to a friend’s apartment where there is a welcoming couch and hot shower waiting.

While my neighborhood remains dark, my city life continues to be vibrant; filled with great friends, good food, and experiences I will never forget from Hurricane Sandy.