Broken Crane Stops Residents From Going Home


Residents near the crane on 57th Street were denied entry.

Police blockade stops residents living near the crane from returning to their homes. Photo: Qi Chen

The broken crane hanging at the top of the building at 157 West 57 Street provided more worries for nearby residents already frazzled by Hurricane Sandy.

On Monday night, the New York City Police Department closed all roads and businesses, and evacuated residents from a square area from Columbus Circle south to West 55th Street, and from Eighth Avenue east to Sixth Avenue. The residents were told that the crane repairs would not begin until Wednesday, news that many residents found distressing.

Cliff Beltzer, who lives one block south of the broken crane, said all residents living in the 12 apartments of his six-story apartment building were told to leave on Monday night. “We didn’t know how long we were being evacuated,” Beltzer said. He was wearing shorts in the 55 degrees Fahrenheit weather. “The fridges are full of food,” he said regretfully. He spent a night at his friend’s place, and when he tried to enter the blockade on Sixth Avenue on Tuesday, he was denied access.

The Crane viewed from Fifth Avenue.

A police officer stationed at the same street corner, who declined to give his name, said that the city would not be repairing or securing the dangling crane until Wednesday, due to high winds. The crane collapsed Monday night at the 57th Street construction site, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, according to city officials. The police officer said the roads will be closed until the crane is secured.

“Or until, God forbid, it falls down,” he said.

Another police officer, who also declined to give his name, said the reason that the repairs were delayed was due to the MTA system being down.

Carnegie House, an apartment building at West 56th Street and Sixth Avenue, was outside of the “no pedestrian” zone, but its residents were also asked to evacuate. John Farrell, the superintendent of the building, said that all 300 suites were cleared Monday around 5 p.m., and a shuttle bus carried residents to shelters at John Jay College and Hunter College, where most have remained.