New York Sketches: Stuyvesant Town

A power plant sits at the end of 14th street on the east side of town, and from about a block away, atop a little hill that's really a covered parking garage serving Stuyvesant Town residents, there's a vantage point from which the power plant smokestacks bear a striking resemblance to the lumber mill featured in the opening credits of Twin Peaks. And every clear day that I walk past it in the morning and it's set against a blue sky, I can't help but hear the synth cords of the TV show's theme song. This is the same power plant that exploded in a halo of green when the water rose high enough to breach the walls during Hurricane Sandy, and that was the explosion that shut down power to our building and eventually all of Manhattan below about 27th street. I walked over and stood on that garage hill as the hurricane was tapering off that night. I thought I'd be alone but it felt like I'd walked into a block party. People were in a good mood, but it was hard to tell whether it was because we were all giddy from the hurricane passing or because we were nervous people were going to start looting. After standing on the little hill for a few moments, better senses prevailed and we returned to our apartment. We found out the next day that if we'd only walked to the edge of that hill and looked over, we would have seen that the East River had broken the banks, and the high water mark of the hurricane turned out to be our little hill, the place where all the Snapple machines and bikes and flooded cars carried by the river hit the literal end of the road.

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