Financial district creaks back to life

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Somehow, the power never went out at the Goldman Sachs building at 200 West Street.

According to Con Edison, the grid that supports the building remained on, even as the storm moved into the neighborhood. The company also turned on its backup generators.

"That helped power the shops that are located in the same building, including Artsee Eyewear, Battery Place Market and Vintry Fine Wines," notes DealBook.

The result was an oasis of electrical activity in stark contrast to the power-challenged gloom elsewhere in the financial district. Even the Shake Shack was open, albeit at a reduced schedule. Many Goldman Sachs employees showed up for work soon after the storm hit. Contrast that experience with Citigroup. It's building at 111 Wall Street was flooded severely, with water rising to the second floor at least. Sump pumps, backup generators and other gear weren't able to work properly.  

But as we head into a new work week, much progress has been made. Banks, exchanges and financial services firms are creaking back to normalcy. Across Manhattan, the lights are coming back on.

"Walk around the financial district and you'll hear the hum of generators and water being pumped out of the lobbies of office buildings and restaurant entrances. Dirty streets are piling up with black garbage bags while relatively few people are walking in the usually densely populated sidewalks. ConEd trucks, industrial dumpsters and yellow crime scene tape are now the norm. On streets once filled with cars, you can find the occasional taxi or bus. On Saturday, broken traffic lights blinked yellow or red," according to one report from the streets.

But that leaves some huge questions. Once the crisis has passed, the entire industry will be left to ponder the aftermath and the future. This will not likely be the last "superstorm". It may have been the first of many to come. Banks will have to account for all of this in their planning. It may be that lower Manhattan is no longer an ideal spot for bank buildings, given long-term climate patterns. Maybe it's time to secure the harbor, fortify the coasts and double down on continuity efforts.-Jim