The picture above is one of the more striking images to emerge from the Hurricane Sandy disaster. Snapped by a Reuters photographer, it shows the Manhattan skyline plunged into darkness by mass power outages, as inflicted by the tropical storm.
Yet there is one building in the shot that remains defiant, lights still blazing in almost every window. That building is located at 200 West Street, and is the headquarters of investment bank Goldman Sachs. The bank’s HQ remained lit thanks to a backup generator, while almost everybody else in Lower Manhattan sufficed with candles and torches.
This image did the rounds on Twitter last night, where it triggered a cynical and occasionally angry reaction; at least one Twitter user compared the illuminated Goldman Sachs building to the plight of the New York University Langone Medical Center, which was forced to evacuate 200 patients due to a power outage caused by Sandy.
Goldman quickly moved into damage limitation mode, with spokesman David Wells telling Daily Intel on Tuesday that many other buildings in the same neighborhood had stayed lit:
“We weren’t the only building with light, but we do have a generator. We’re not drawing power from the grid.”
Another photo, this time snapped by Instagram user Charlie Walk, features a much closer view of the 200 West Street building, and does seem to support Wells’ claim that other buildings in the area were lit up:
Nonetheless, the symbolism of the original city skyline shot was not lost on some Twitter users:
The fact that the NYU hospital is dark but Goldman Sachs is well-lit is everything that’s wrong with this country.
— Ken Shadford (@kenshadford) October 30, 2012
So let’s do this again. Goldman Sachs building the only thing lit in lower Manhattan. Reuters pic. Whose streets? bit.ly/XSr9no
— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) October 30, 2012
Goldman Sachs remains illuminated against a dark sky, like a giant middle finger to the rest of New York. businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-…
— roadkillrefugee (@rkref) October 30, 2012
Meanwhile, the BBC’s Have I Got News For You team suggested Goldman’s true source of power was being concealed:
Reportedly the only building with electricity in downtown Manhattan is Goldman Sachs, which gets its power from an underground source: Hades
— HaveIGotNewsForYou(@bbcHIGNFY) October 30, 2012