It’s a time-honored tradition for men doing ballsy, ridiculous and risky things to photograph their exploits. Thankfully the steel workers over at One57 are no exception. They recently yielded to this impulse, taking a series of shots of their work securing the now- famous crane destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. The removal of which is, according to Curbed, slated to begin the week of December 3rd. It’s a difficult job. A new crane has to be built to lower the old one down to the ground and there are legal actions to be settled, of course. But in the meantime we can all look at these pictures the workers took and feel relief that’s it’s not us out there.
As most every New Yorker can now eerily recall, just as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the city, the crane atop One57 snapped back, nearly crashing to the street. The boom wound up holding throughout the 100-mile-per-hour winds, the incident resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of residents, businesses and hotels, most of whom could not return for more than a week.
We’ve already heard from an angry public relations executive who believes Extell should reimburse the city for the cost of monitoring the accident and evacuating the streets. Now comes the first of what may well be many lawsuits over the crane crisis at the billionaire-beloved building.
Before Hurricane Sandy even reached the Five Boroughs, the city was thrown into chaos when its prevailing winds knocked over the boom of the crane hanging off the side of the billionaire-beloved One57 condo tower. In our oral history of Hurricane Sandy, Fire Chief Sal Cassano told The Observer that was the moment the storm got serious. “That was pretty much the start of a very, very active and serious night,” Mr. Cassano said. “We had a four-alarm assignment for an incident that wasn’t even a fire.”
Yesterday, The Times had a harrowing account of the moments surrounding the crane snapping. It includes the main city engineer on the scene saying he gave the boom a 20 percent chance of breaking off entirely and falling earthward. His boss, Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, felt more secure, as he told The Observer during our interview for the oral history that, following some initial panic, he felt confident the boom would hold through the storm and the days ahead.
“We had made an estimate that, at the time, we knew the crane was not going to fall,” Mr. LiMandri said. “We felt very comfortable that the ties that held the mast up were intact, and that was a very good sign, knowing that the mast had not been compromised. We had some estimates on the iron chords that were holding the mast together to the balloon, so we were fairly comfortable that that part was secure.”
It’s true of communities across the city, so why not West 57th Street? From the Rockaways to Staten Island, people have returned to their homes and businesses but found them without power, and the same seems to be going for the one-block stretch of the city that was shut down after the crane boom of One57 snapped back.
Yesterday, the city secured the crane boom to the side of the building, a day ahead of scheduled, and reopened the street. But that does not mean life is yet back to normal. According to a number of people on the street, they remain without electricity or heat—even though Con Ed claims otherwise. “They said we couldn’t expect anything before noon,” Daniel Van Doren, whose family owns 130 West 57th Street, told The Observer in a phone interview from his MetroNorth train headed to the city.
“Just like the rest of this debacle, Con Ed is not giving much detail,” Mr. Van Doren added.
Well, the recovery continues faster than expected in New York. We’ve got subways almost miraculously coming back to life after flooding throughout the system, and now the securing of the crane boom dangling over West 57th Street has been completed a day ahead of schedule, wrapping up tonight rather than Monday night as the mayor had previously predicted.
It will still be weeks before the crane—whose boom was almost torn asunder during last week’s hurricane—can be removed and construction can resume on the billionaire-beloved One57 tower. Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri’s full statement on the operation is below.
The crane that snapped back at One57 is still hanging precariously over Midtown, but the city is preparing a plan to secure the boom on the billionaire-beloved building that will commence tomorrow and should be completed by Monday night, Mayor Bloomberg announced at his press briefing this afternoon.
“Tomorrow, work on securing the crane will begin,” he said. “It’s approximately a 36 hour operation, and the goal is to remove the vacate order to allow people in the vicinity to return to their homes and offices by Monday night. We’ve just got to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t cost any lives.”
PR maven Ronn Torossian, who was evacuated from his offices at 888 Seventh Avenue, has been passing around an op-ed to outlets across the city, Gothamist among them. He blames Extell Development for failing to maintain its now-crushed crane at One57, accuses the firm of negligence and mismanagement and endangering the people and economy of the city. “A thorn and open question remains the 90-story residential tower, One57,” Mr. Torossian writes, in his piece titled “Shame on Extell Development and Gary Barnett.”
“The city of New York should demand that Extell and Barnett pay back the city, residents and businesses back for the millions it will cost because of their negligence,” he concludes.
Extell released the following statement to The Observer taking Mr. Torossian to task for trying to capitalize on this misfortune.
Superstorm Sandy has been full of dramatic events, from the fire in Breezy Point to the flooding of all those tunnels, the explosion of the Con Edison plant, submersion of the Rockaways… it has been a terrifying 24 hours. But perhaps no moment typified the New York-iness of this storm quite like the crane accident at One57. Where but here would you find a death-defying incident 1,000 feet in the air involving a home for the world’s billionaires?
With that in mind, many New Yorkers have been wondering just what the fate of the crane boom that has been hanging precariously for more than a day would be. According to the Department of Buildings, inspections reveal that the crane should be safe for now, but given the difficult conditions from the storm, it has been very difficult to inspect the damage directly.
“Our engineers have been on the scene all day now with the crane,” Tony Sclafani, the DOB spokesman, said in a phone interview. “Up until this point, they have not been able to access the building due to high winds. But last night, two inspectors made their way up to the 70th floor, floor by floor, step by step, to make sure all the connections to the crane were secure. They were accompanied by firefighters along the way.”
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