The Upper East Side Is a Ghost Town, But One Subway Remains Open

subwayinn The Upper East Side Is a Ghost Town, But One Subway Remains Open

The Subway Inn. (Flickr: Otterman56)

The Upper East Side looked like the neighborhood had left town and forgot to turn the lights off. The subways had just shut down service. There were some cabs zooming around, most of them with their lights out, but the few people on the street were speed-walking home, umbrellas and shopping bags in tow. Bloomingdales had posted signs on all the doors that said, “IN THE INTEREST OF THE SAFETY OF OUR ASSOCIATES WE HAVE DECIDED TO CLOSE ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 29.”

The movie theater and the Urban Outfitters followed suit.

But one of the neighborhood’s oldest bars, The Subway Inn, had opted to stay open, pending a real disaster.

“It’s overhyped,” said Will Sutton, who was working the bar. He lives in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, but decided he’d take a cab home later. Mr. Sutton has some not entirely fond memories of a year ago, during Tropical Storm Irene, when he closed the bar for a whole day. He ended up disappointed.

Inside, there were about seven people, all older men, sitting and drinking and watching the Giants game. At the bar, a hard-edged man with a beard, Christian Smith, was typing away on an iPhone, his clothes covered with dust. He’d just come from a construction job downtown, building a wall around a building at West Broadway and Grand that he said, “floods  every time there’s rain.” He’d gotten word that a site up here did nothing to prepare for Monday’s hurricane, and grudgingly headed uptown. He was with a co-worker, emailing his bosses, making sure that, if no one is at the site tomorrow, making sure it’s safe, “people will lose their jobs.” He said that with an unflinching frown.

Gesturing to his beer, he added, “We came here to enjoy a drink before heading home.”