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After Storm, Wall Street Gets Back to Work

After a weekend of speculation about how much havoc Hurricane Irene would wreak, the nation’s financial center was largely back to normal on Monday, with resumed subway and bus service making for a better-than-expected commute.

Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011.
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011.

The investment banks had prepared for the worst. Some employees were put up in Manhattan hotels over the weekend. Other staff members were given instructions to work from home if transit outages made commuting impossible.

But despite extensive damage and flooding in upstate New York and points north, many bankers shuffled back to work after the worst storm predictions failed to materialize.

Outside the headquarters of Goldman Sachs , employees streamed in during the Monday morning rush, the bulk arriving before 9. Most were wearing business casual clothing, in accordance with a Friday memo to many of the bank’s employees that designated a relaxed dress code after the storm.

Across the street at the World Financial Center, tenants — including Nomura Securities, State Street, and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management — were open for business. The American Express offices in 3 World Financial Center were officially closed on Monday.

At the New York Stock Exchange, several traders in blue jackets huddled for cigarette breaks before the market open. None said they had been delayed getting to work because of the storm.

A nearby food stand operator, who had closed his stand over the weekend because of high winds, said he expected no dip in traffic on Monday.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said.

Down the street at Deutsche Bank’s 60 Wall Street headquarters, a security guard wearing combat boots, who declined to provide his name because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, welcomed incoming workers with greetings like “Good morning. Glad you made it in.” He said that traffic to the building was “pretty light.” While he took a 5:11 train into the city from Long Island, the guard noted that many of the bank’s employees had been delayed by mass transit outages in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Traffic was also light at Citigroup’s building on Greenwich Street, where its investment bank and trading floors are housed. The bank said over the weekend that it was evaluating “alternative arrangements” for employees unable to get to work on Monday.

But the biggest apparent damage done to Citigroup’s waterfront tower by the storm involved another liquid: coffee. Weekend shipments of coffee and other drinks to the building, which contains a Starbucks kiosk, were delayed by the storm, sending employees in droves to a cafe across the street.

The Dow Jones industrial average rallied more than 250 points, or 2.3 percent, Monday, reflecting relief over the storm’s passing.