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Friday, May 17, 2013

Life After Sandy Through My Eyes: Part I

Monday, May 6, 2013: South Street Seaport

I have wanted to see the Seaport since hurricane Sandy hit NYC six months ago. I still cannot believe it has been six months already. Once I got off at the newly renovated Fulton Street station and saw the new World Trade Center, I could feel a difference. As I approached the Seaport, there were barricades and construction equipment everywhere. My favorite clothing store, Rainbow is closed.  This wasn’t a good sign. As I walked, closer to the now gated up hub for shops and restaurants, more stores have locks and boards with signs saying “Due to Hurricane Sandy…”  It felt like a ghost town. Even the cobblestone didn’t feel the same. Few people were out, mostly tourists taking pictures. Fulton Market has gates around it. The restaurants that used to generate a lot of people are gone. I took pictures but the more I snapped, the worst I felt.  

The mall was empty. Some people sat on the benches talking with others while some pointed at stores with hardly anyone in them. The booths that sold jewelry and other novelties are closed. I saw one open with a man standing by looking at his cell phone. Each floor was like this, even the food court on the top floor. I walked through it observing the empty chairs and tables. Bars and small eateries are closed. Some stores like Subways are still in business. I went outside where I usually go to reflect. The wood had splits in it and the chairs and benches looked weathered. I stood by the railing and looked across at Brooklyn Bridge Park. How tiny it looks from the Seaport! The weather was nice, sunny with a cool breeze. I eventually sat at one of those reclined seats, turn on my music, and began to reflect. Looking at the Brooklyn Bridge, I tried to imagine how it must have looked when Sandy hit. I still can’t imagine how high the water rose leaving the Seaport practically under water. I also reflected on the many experiences I had at the Seaport. The times I reflected, went on dates, ate at the local restaurants, bought seashells, and took pictures all done at the Seaport. I always remembered how busy it was especially during the summer season. To see it so empty now was overwhelming but understandable. When I looked again, I was the only one sitting there. It was 5pm. I knew it was time for me to leave.

Before I left, I went to my favorite candy store. I love their “jelly bellies” and caramels. I grew up liking caramels from my grandmother who loved eating them. The owner and I were the only ones in the store. I started talking to him asking about business since Sandy. What he told me was startling. Stores like his will close by the end of the year. Plans to revamp the Seaport are in the works. He told me they’re looking at retail spaces now.  When I asked him how business been since Sandy, he said, “Not good.” 
As I left, I felt sad. I can’t imagine the Seaport without the small businesses. The small businesses make the Seaport what it is.  I walked towards the gate by Fulton Market and looked through it. “What will become of the Seaport in the near future?” I thought to myself. I don’t think the Seaport will ever be the same again thanks to Sandy, and that’s not a good thing.

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