Around Goldman’s Headquarters, an Oasis of Electricity

William Alden | The New York Times
Saturday, 3 Nov 2012 | 9:04 AM ET

As many in Lower Manhattan spent the workweek without power, one area near the Hudson River was bustling: Goldman Alley.

Allison Joyce

Though some power was being gradually restored to parts of Manhattan on Friday, it was a curious sight to see the hub of activity. The shops and restaurants surrounding Goldman Sachs's 200 West Street headquarters were doing brisk business on Friday, lights glowing and music playing, even as the streets beyond lay dormant. At the local Shake Shack, the line on Friday afternoon ran out the door.

Hurricane Sandy, which claimed at least 41 lives in New York City this week and knocked out power for more than a million residents, cast an eerie darkness over the downtown area. Flooding damaged businesses and subways, and crews of workers were still pumping out water on Friday.

The lively scene near Goldman's offices illustrated the quirks of the city's electrical system, which has been both kind and punishing to New Yorkers this week.

It so happens that the electricity for Goldman and the surrounding area was never shut off. That grid — spanning from Chambers Street down to Battery Park, and from West Street over to the Hudson River — remained on as the storm swept through the neighborhood, said Allan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison.

The network immediately to the east, though, was shut down as the storm hit. West Street now traces a border of the dead zone, as it has come to be known. (Con Edison aims to restore power to all of Manhattan by Saturday.)

In addition, Goldman ran its backup generators during the storm. That helped power the shops that are located in the same building, including Artsee Eyewear, Battery Place Market and Vintry Fine Wines.

Goldman opened its offices to employees on Wednesday, after closing Monday and Tuesday as stock and bond markets were shut because of the storm. Heaps of sandbags lined the building early in the week — a barrier against flooding that helped shield local businesses as well.

"We used our generators to ensure that our employees would be able to work and that the small businesses on our ground floor would, too," David Wells, a Goldman spokesman, said in an e-mail.

On Friday, some Goldman employees wore jeans and sneakers. The atmosphere inside the offices was congenial, with partners making sure their teams were all right, said a Goldman employee who asked not to be identified because he was not allowed to speak to the news media.

"Frankly, it was almost a relief for me to go to work where there was power and water," he said.

Shake Shack, which is located across a passageway from Goldman's offices, opened for limited hours on Wednesday, after evacuating the area Sunday on the mayor's orders, said Zach Koff, vice president of operations for the restaurant chain. Mr. Koff was serving customers hamburgers on Friday.

At Bloom, a florist and home furnishings store a few doors down, employees were assembling bouquets of flowers. Harry's Italian restaurant was packed on Friday afternoon, with pizzas flying out of the ovens.

North End Grill, a southern outpost in the empire of the restauranteur Danny Meyer, also never lost power. The restaurant, in the Conrad hotel building, which is owned by Goldman Sachs, opened with a limited menu on Wednesday. The chef, Floyd Cardoz, posted a picture on his Twitter account of more than 100 guests enjoying food and drinks.

The restaurant even got some trick-or-treaters on Wednesday, Halloween night, said Kevin Richer, the general manager.

Mr. Richer said he grew concerned for the restaurant early in the week when he learned that the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel was flooding.

"We were worried big time," he said.

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