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Remembering What Happened When New York’s Subways Filled With Water

If you try to take the R train from Manhattan to Brooklyn any time for the next year, you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise: The tunnel under the river that connects the two boroughs is closed for 14 months for repairs, to fix the damage caused when it filled with hundreds of thousands of gallons of salt water, which continued to corrode the electrical systems in the tunnel long after the water was gone and service had resumed.


In the aftermath of the storm, some of the most shocking images were of the subway–the key to the city’s bustling nature–totally inundated and incapacitated. We’ve collected some of the images we ran from a year ago, as part of our look back at the storm and what it means for how we design cities to be more resilient going forward.


The Times has an extensive piece about what has changed and what hasn’t at the MTA and what will happen to the subway in the event of another storm of Sandy-like proportions: “This year, should a Sandy-like storm show up, it won’t encounter a transportation system that has changed conspicuously. But the thinking of the people running it has.”

That’s a good step, but a true resilient subway will be one that can fill with water–as it inevitably will again–and continue running shortly thereafter. Whether that subway system exists remains to be seen. In the meantime, hopefully the planning of the MTA will mean that the next time floodwaters wash over New York, pictures like this will still be a memory.MC