Visiting NYC Post-Sandy: What You Need to Know

November 19, 2012 by

North America, Travel News & Alerts

Editor’s note: On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and the surrounding areas, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines, causing power outages and destroying many homes and nearby communities. To learn more about how the city is recovering and what visitors can expect in the aftermath of the hurricane, we reached out to a local New Yorker for the scoop.

The good news: the Big Apple is as resilient as the people who call it home and most services and attractions are running just as they were before the storm. Here’s the latest on what you need to know. 

Updated, December 19, 2012

Photo credit: kaysha via Flickr

Photo credit: kaysha via Flickr

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, leaving quite a path of destruction. Some communities – such as Staten Island, Red Hook and Coney Island in Brooklyn, and the Rockaways, a beachside community in Queens – are still reeling from Sandy’s destruction, and the loss of homes and lives during the storm. While efforts by the National Guard and the federal government continue to help victims rebuild their communities, volunteers are pouring from other boroughs to lend a hand. It’s a difficult process, but the city is healing.

Since the storm, many potential visitors to New York have questioned whether or not they should continue with their plans. The good news for visitors is that many areas in the immediate region of New York City have exceeded recovery expectations. Power is back in Manhattan and much of the city’s storied public transit system is fully operational. Lots of local businesses are open again, and many New Yorkers are coming together to help harder hit victims of the storm.

Manhattan, where most visitors spend the majority of their time, is as bustling as ever. While some major attractions are closed for assessments and repairs post-Sandy, New York is welcoming visitors and tourists who can expect most of the city to be fully operational.

A few hotels are still closed but the vast majority are open. With the exception of a few lines, subways are also back up and running, so tourists should have no trouble getting around in Manhattan and beyond.

If you’re headed to New York in the next few weeks, here’s what you need to know about the operation of tourist attractions and infrastructure affected by the storm.

Sites and Attractions

Central Park, after Sandy. Photo credit: asterix611 via Flickr

Central Park, after Sandy. Photo credit: asterix611 via Flickr

Now that power is back in Lower Manhattan, most of NYC’s major sites and attractions are open, though some have limited hours. Others that were not affected by the storm continue to welcome visitors (who may be delighted to find the crowds not as thick as usual).

The Empire State Building is open and welcoming visitors to the observation deck as usual. It’s also sporting some exciting new lights, which will not only cut energy consumption at the building by half, but which can also create dazzling light effects in more than 16.7 million different color combinations. The different colors of lights will be used to commemorate holidays and special events or honor local and national organizations.

Book a VIP tour of the Empire State Building and 9/11 Memorial 

Empire State Building photo courtesy of Downtown Traveler on Flickr

Empire State Building photo courtesy of Downtown Traveler on Flickr

Until further notice, the High Line park will only be open from 7:30 am to 5 pm due to sustained damage. Central Park Zoo is now operating on Winter hours, from 10 am to 4:30 pm daily.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters are open, though parts of Fort Tryon Park immediately surrounding the museum are closed. Visitors may walk from the 190th St. A train station along main paths to the museum, but not through scenic park routes, due to fallen trees and debris.

Because of sustained damage, visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be unable to explore the site, however you can still see these iconic sights from one of the cruises that still operate the waters around them.

Book a Liberty Cruise, Manhattan Island Cruise, or NYC Highlights Cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the water

The Midtown and Downtown Brooklyn TKTS Booths have reopened and most Broadway and off-Broadway shows are running, but it’s wise to call and verify that your show is still going on before you arrive.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will remain closed for the next several weeks. The New York Aquarium, which was devastated by Sandy’s surge, is closed for the foreseeable future. The South Street Seaport has reopened many shops in the Pier 17 shopping mall, with more to open soon.

Outside of Manhattan on Staten Island, which was equally ravaged by Sandy, the Staten Island Zoo is fully operational once again, with all animals safe and sound. The Staten Island Ferry is running on its usual schedule.  Coney Island in Brooklyn was also hit hard by the storm.

Also in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open. Though it sustained damage–first from Sandy, then Nor’easter Athena a week later–due to several fallen flora (notably, a “historically significant Chinese parasol plant,” according to its blog), the Garden is still open while clean-up efforts keep sections closed. Visitors are encouraged to help the park while the space gets back in shape.

Getting Around

The MTA Subway lines are operational except for: “1” trains do not operate from Rector St. to South Ferry. “R” trains do not run between Manhattan and Brooklyn. PATH trains to New Jersey are running on a limited schedule. Service at the Hoboken station remains suspended.

Other Transportation

The Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel are open to traffic in both directions. The Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel has partially reopened, with one lane for car use in each direction.

Area Airports

Lucky for air travelers, airports serving New York City are all open, though you should check your flight status directly with the airlines.

LaGuardia, Newark and JFK are open.  The JFK Airtrain is serving only the Jamaica, Federal Circle and Howard Beach stops. Shuttle buses at Federal Circle will transport passenger to airline terminals. Allow for extra time if using this shuttle.


Most hotels that closed due to the storm have reopened, while others such as the New York Marriott Downtown, have reopened but are operating with some limited services, like no internet. The Wyndham Garden Long Island City/Manhattan View in Queens will remain closed for the next several weeks. No matter what hotel you’re staying at, it’s wise to call and reconfirm your reservations.

How to Help

Volunteers helping in the wake of Sandy. Photo credit: kate.gardiner

Volunteers helping in the wake of Sandy. Photo credit: kate.gardiner

The New-York Historical Society will be funneling paid admission to the Hurricane Sandy relief fund.  You can find more information on donating money or goods heresign up to volunteer, or learn more about donating to the Red Cross. You can also text NYCFUND to 50555 to give $10 to the Mayor’s Fund that will help provide essential aid and supplies to New Yorkers in need.

New Yorkers are a resilient, community-oriented bunch. Sandy affected local businesses as much as residents and the entire foodie/restaurateur establishment has come together under various “dine out for good” initiatives; if your goal is to eat through New York’s fabled food-centric galaxy, why not do it through these causes? Your full, satisfied tummy will also benefit Sandy relief efforts, which is a win-win. Check out the links below:

Dine Out NYC (Facebook page)

OpenTable: NYC Restaurants Open During Sandy Recovery

Eater: Where to Eat Out for Sandy Relief in New York City

– Joseph Hernandez 

Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s New York City tours and things to doNew York City attractions, and New York City travel recommendations. Or book a private tour guide in New York City for a customized tour!


Comments are closed.