Author Archives: Derek Ku

Posts by Derek Ku

Annotated Bibliography – New York City on Hurricane Sandy : A Powerful City Sans Power.

To: Professor Samantha MacBride

From: Derek Ku

Date: Apr 15, 2013

Re: Annotated Bibliography

Venugopal, Arun. 2011. “WNYC News Blog – Census Pinpoints City’s Wealthiest, Poorest Neighborhoods.” WNYC.

Venugopal highlights one of the lowest income neighborhoods in New York City that is located in South Bronx and provides socioeconomic statistics presented over a map of New York City. He goes on to highlight the opposite side of the spectrum in Upper East Side where the median income is over $200,000. I find it fascinating that the poor live immediately a couple blocks away from the affluent in Midtown West. The geographical data presented on the median income level map allows me to understand how the wealth is distributed amongst the five boroughs of New York City and the neighboring states. In regards to storm water management and power blackouts, I will be exploring how quickly a neighborhood recovers after these disasters. I will examine how this hastens because of neighborhood cooperation or exacerbates from rioting, theft, or arson. The closer the neighborhoods are to the lower water levels and parks, the higher the median income.

Tingle, Alex. 2013. “Flood Maps.” Accessed April 15.,-101.6015&z=13&m=7.

Tingle, an experienced software engineer utilizes geographical data and water levels to create a map that displays which areas of land will be submerged in water as the water level rises.  I will be observing how water level affects the amount of risk a neighborhood is in and how each neighborhood handles the surplus storm water. I have also noticed a trend between the distance from the coast and the increasing median income. This is due in part to rising real estate prices along 12th Avenue and York Avenue, with exception to the Lower East Side which is rent controlled, or rent stabilized. Another point of interest that I discuss is how TriBeCa and the West Village dealt and recovered from Hurricane Sandy as opposed to the residents in the Lower East Side and East Village. Both neighborhoods suffered a huge drawback due to the water damage, but both handled the situation drastically different.

“Population – New York City Department of City Planning.” 2013. Accessed April 16.

 In the NYC 2010 Census, I will be observing how dense each neighborhood is and provide insights on the quality of life in the neighborhoods by comparing it with the water level and median income level. The Upper West Side and Upper East Side are highly populated yet the median income is relatively high due to all the luxury apartments, brownstones, and townhouses. People also have access to Central Park, the East River and Hudson River respectively, which makes these neighborhoods exorbitantly expensive. On top of that, Upper East Side and Upper West Side are both situated on fairly high ground.

“Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey, New York Still Struggle With Power Outages.” 2012. Huffington Post.

Over 8 million customers lost power during the storm and over hundreds of thousands of customers lost power days after Hurricane Sandy, demonstrating the lasting effects of the Hurricane on power in New York City and the surrounding areas. Electric infrastructure got damaged to the point where they could not access electricity even if it was available to their neighborhood. The power outage in densely populated areas hurt homes and businesses alike. Most of the densely populated neighborhoods such as Lower East Side, East Village, and West Village were hit. Queens’ Breezy Point and Long Island were hit the hardest due to lack of infrastructure and population density.

“SoPo: The Coining of a Neighborhood Name.” 2013. The Atlantic Wire. Accessed April 16.

Due to the power outage, New Yorkers banded together to form a temporary neighborhood called South of Power. On a social standpoint, where everyone formerly went to barhop and enjoy nightlife, now became a place where everyone dreaded. In a city overrun with real estate professional whom coin acronyms and nicknames for neighborhoods, South of Power was ironically created to unite the neighborhoods and boost morale amongst the residents. It was not an uncommon occurrence to see folks in the Lower East Side without access to clean water resort to fire hydrants and clearing supermarkets for supplies. People stocked up on food and water, expecting the effects of Sandy to last for more than just a couple days. A loss of power became the cause of crowds huddling around Starbucks for Free wi-fi and Chase Banks for outlets. In a bleak, powerless portion of New York City, it’s citizens created a symbol euphemistically embracing the grit and struggle that New Yorkers endured during and after Hurricane Sandy.

“Phone Charging Stations Pop up Around NYC in Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy | Digital Trends.” 2013. Digital Trends. Accessed April 16.

Electricity runs a city. Without power, millions of New Yorkers were left unable to utilize their phone to contact family and family. As observed by some media outlets, New Yorkers took up extremes to even bike on a stationary bicycle that cranked a generator, charging multiple phones. In response to New York’s lack of mobile electrical infrastructure, Brightbox, a Brooklyn based startup creates mobile charging stations which charges a $2-4 fee per usage. The need began after the founder, Adam Johnson saw the crowded in residential and hotel lobbies. After its installation in front of the Ace Hotel, it has charged over thousands of phones. Other issues still remain; a lack of Wi-Fi connection would render tablets and phones without service useless as a mode of communication in a disaster. Brightbox provides a temporary solution to a small portion of Manhattan. In the coming years, New York will need these charging stations spread out amongst the city to combat disasters that might occur in the future.

“Thousands of Con Edison Customers Lose Power Due to Hurricane Sandy Through New York City and Westchester County.” 2013. NY Daily News. Accessed April 16.

Con Edison threatened to shut down its operations because the storm surge would “flood the underground electrical delivery system.” New York’s electrical infrastructure has not prepared for a flood of this magnitude. Hurricane Sandy brought record-breaking water levels. Our poor stormwater management infrastructure provided New York with only drains and grates that would allow excess water to flow back into the tunnels below the city.  Power was cut from lower Manhattan, because ConEd deems the pipes to be explosive if inundated with cold sea water. The seawater threatened to burn out the equipment which would have made repairs a lot slower.

Timeline of Electricity and Power Outages in New York City Metropolitan Area

1878 – Thomas Edison, funded by financiers such as J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family, established the Edison Electric Light Company to “own and license his patents in the electric light field” (ConEdison). 

1879 –Edison and Francis Upton, his assistant developed a carbon filament that would burn in a vacuum in a glass bulb for forty hours. They demonstrated the light bulb to their backers early in December 1879, and by the end of the month were exhibiting the invention to the public (ConEdison). 

1880 – The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York was incorporated on December 17, 1880, to develop and install a central generating station. Edison focused on creating a system of electric generation and distribution that would turn his light bulb into a commercially efficient and economical business (ConEdison). 

1881 – Edison displays how to supply electricity from a central station to illuminate buildings in a surrounding district in London. (ConEdison). 

1881 – First street mains were installed in New York. (ConEdison). 

1882 – Edison surpasses two hundred patents solving problems in the generation, distribution, and metering of electric current. He had to develop even the most basic equipment such as fuses, sockets, fixtures, switches, and meter (ConEdison). 

1882 – Edison’s electric illuminating system began operations at the Pearl Street Station, powering over five thousands lights (ConEdison). 

1895 – George Westinghouse “opened the first major power plant that used the newly developed AC power systems,” which carried electricity over 200 miles, compared to Edison’s one mile (ConEdison).

1900 – Tesla works on his wireless world broadcasting tower under funding by financier J.P. Morgan. (Sparrow).

1901 – The New York Gas, Electric Light, Heat & Power Company acquires Edison Electric, Consolidated Gas and called the electric utilities The New York Edison Company (ConEdison). 

1901 – Brooklyn Edison’s Waterside station was physically the world’s largest generating plant (ConEdison). 

1925 – 770,000-kilowatt Hudson Avenue Plant is completed. (Sparrow).

1930 – 90% of people living in cities and big towns had electricity in their homes. (Sparrow).

1932 – New York Edison’s parent company, Consolidated Gas, became the largest electrical service provider in the world (ConEdison). 

1936 – Electric sales take the lead ahead of gas sales, Consolidated Gas changed its name to the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc (ConEdison). 

1959 – 500-block radio around Central Park lost power when the grid became overwhelmed by overuse of refrigerators and air conditioners. (Mail Online).

1960 – Consolidated Edison had acquired or merged with more than a dozen companies (including Westchester Lighting Company and Yonkers Electric Light & Power in 1951). (ConEdison).

1961 – Five square miles of Midtown Manhattan struck by blackout caused by electrical equipment failures, lasting two to four and a half hours. Majority of subway services was delayed (Kihss).

1963 – American engineers finish a 400-mile-long conductor line capable of carrying 345-kilovolts of electricity, empowering dozens of companies to serve towns and cities from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. (Sparrow).

1965 – The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 took out the electricity in 80,000 square miles in the Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada. It left 25 million people across New York State and most of New England without power for a day. In New York, almost ten thousand commuters were stuck in subway cars, thousands, of travelers stayed in hotel lobbies, offices, and even on the benches in Grand Central Station (Sparrow).

1966 – New York Power Pool (NYPP) established and coordinates power flow in New York State (Sparrow).

1971 – New York Power Pool Center experienced a brief shortage of power to 200,000 customers (Sparrow).

1977 – Blackout of 1977 that left 9 million people without electricity for 25 hours, filled New York with violence, theft, and crime. In Greenwich Village, the community gathered for an impromptu festival. In Harlem, Brooklyn, and South Bronx suffered the most damage as people broke into stores looking for TVs, furniture, or clothes. Police arrested over 3,766 looters. Time magazines called it “a Night of Terror” for those in distraught neighborhoods. The city was set back more than $300 million. (Sparrow).

1978 – Statutes contained in the National Energy Act initiated a significant restructuring of the electricity industry (Nordhaus).

1994 – the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) started a Competitive Opportunities Proceeding to prepare for an open energy market in New York. (90% of people living in cities and big towns had electricity in their homes. (Sparrow).

1997 – Con Edison, PSC staff, and other parties developed a plan to promote competition in its service area. The agreement required Con Edison to sell the majority of its electric generating plants, as well as some properties where future plants might be built. (Sparrow).

1998 – Con Edison, once a vertically integrated utility became a holding company with “regulated and unregulated subsidiaries” (ConEdison). 

2003 – A surge of electricity to western New York and Canada touched off a series of power failures and enforced blackouts yesterday that left parts of at least eight states in the Northeast and the Midwest without electricity. The widespread failures provoked the evacuation of office buildings, stranded thousands of commuters and flooded some hospitals with patients suffering in the stifling heat. (Sparrow).

2006 – The 2006 Queens Blackout was a series of power outages affecting mainly the neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside. It caused losses of tens of millions of dollars, affecting over 174,000 people. ( 

2010 – A severe windstorm in March left hundreds of thousands of customers without power in Connecticut, Westchester, Long Island, and New Jersey. (

2011 – Hurricane Irene in New York flooded the Meatpacking district. High-speed winds knocked down many trees and power lines taking out power in over 350,000 homes and businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In New York City, over 70,000 Con-ed customers lost power. Most were in queens (25,000). (Chung). 

2012 – Hurricane Sandy hits New York City. At a Consolidated Edison substation in the East Village, Sandy swamped underground electrical equipment, and left over 250,000 lower Manhattanites without power. (Long).

2013 – February snowstorm Nemo takes out power in Long Island households leaving over 100,000 customers without electricity. (


Cited Sources

  1. Sheehy, Gail. “Trapped in the Towers.” Newsweek 160.20 (2012): 10–11. Print.
  2. Carpenter, Dave. “Electricity in NYC Could Take Four to Seven Days to Restore (+video).” Christian Science Monitor 31 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  3. Nordhaus, Robert R. “National Energy Act of 1978.” Encyclopedia of Energy Engineering and Technology. Taylor & Francis. 1082–1087. Web. 18 Mar. 2013
  4. Barron, James. “Power Surge Blacks Out Northeast.” The New York Times 15 Aug. 2003. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  5. “How New York Beat the Blackout… 53 Years Ago: Fascinating LIFE Pictures Reveal How Manhattan Coped with Darkness During 1959 Power Cut.” Mail Online. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  6. Mcfadden, Robert D., and Winnie Hu. “Power Failure Lingers as Storm Slows Repairs.” The New York Times 23 July 2006. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  7. “Video: Blizzard 2013: Power Outages for Hundreds of Thousands of People.” ABC News. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  8. “Biggest Blackout In U.S. History.” CBS News. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  9. Chung, Jen. “Power Outages In NYC Region As Hurricane Irene Arrives.” Gothamist. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  10. “The Latest: Nemo’s Impact State by State –” The Weather Channel. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  11. Kihss, Peter. “Power Failure Snarls Northeast; 800,000 Are Caught in Subways Here; Autos Tied Up; City Gropes In Dark.” New York Times Nov 6 1961, n. pag. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <
  12. Sparrow, Jim. “events.” Blackout History Project. N.p., 27 Jun 2000. Web. 18 Mar 2013. <>.
  13. “New York City’s Power Restored After Outage.” Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  14. “electricity.” ConEdison. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar 2013. <>.
  15. Long, Colleen and Peltz, Jennifer. “NYC Subway Shutdown, Power Outages And Fires Following Hurricane Sandy Destruction (PHOTOS) (LIVE UPDATES).” Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
  16. “Powerful Nor’easter Causes Extensive Damage Around New Jersey.” The Star Ledger – Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

How Green Technology/Infrastructure Can Combat Climate Changes

As expressed in Luke Muehlhauser’s & Anna Salamon’s Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import, our techonology is rapidly evolving to become more advanced. In some cases, we approach and exceed human-level intelligence. How do you see our city grow technologically? How are benefits of “greening the MTA” applicable to mitigating and adapting to our changing climate? After Hurricane Sandy, do you think New Yorkers understood the importance of being more environmentally and ecologically conscious?

How New York Infrastructure Adapts to Climate Shifts

To: Professor MacBride
From: Derek Ku
Date: 2/13/13
Re: Infrastructure of New York City.

As natural disasters become more frequent, scientists are attributing these occurrences to drastically rising temperatures and sea levels. New Yorkers are investing in infrastructure and technologies that will prevent and mitigate climate change. I will find relevant data and charts by looking through scholarly and news articles regarding the damages inflicted upon New York City during natural disasters related to the changing climate. I will be analyzing climate trends, water levels, and temperatures to determine which problems to tackle first.

I’m really fascinated by New York City infrastructure: New York City is a city of tunnels. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, we were affected by the floodwater. The water affected the transit system and damaged the water and electric infrastructure leaving Lower Manhattan stranded without any power nor clean water. For example, some of the solutions for clean water sources in New York City was having the subways creating inflatable plugs filled with 35,000 gallons of water and preserving the Croton and Catskill/Delaware Watersheds. Tracking environment trends will allow New York to analyze and prioritize its next actions and its consequence.


Risk Management in New York City

How does Yohe’s & Leichenko’s risk management approach tackle Horton, Gornitz, & Bowman’s future projections of New York City?

Comments by Derek Ku

"Lightstone Group should be analyzing the consequences of their development. They should take a look at Bishop and Hines's approach to strategic development: "Framing, Scanning, Forecasting, Visioning, Planning & Acting (Ratcliffe.6). It is one of the most "popular and persuasive" methods of planning. The Lightstone Group should understand that these projects aren't solely for milking their investments and stimulating the downtown Manhattan economy. They should reconsider the risks involved with infrastructure that isn't adaptable to natural disasters. What a smart planner would include in the plan are methods to harness the water power that might result from the stormwater. New York's weakness is its poor stormwater management due to impermeable surfaces that cause runoff precipitation to flood the streets and not flow into the tunnel system below that lead to the rivers. If the Lightstone Group pursues this route for their development, they will have be irresponsible to the biosphere and technosphere around them."
--( posted on Mar 11, 2013, commenting on the post Lightstone: Smart planning or ignorant planning? )
"In John Ratcliffe's and Ela Krawczyk's Imagineering city futures: The use of prospective through scenarios in urban planning, they mention two of the most complex systems on Earth, the technosphere and biosphere interacting and in the process of that interaction harming each other in their planning and development. If we backcast, we would be observing conditions of the past which follow the assumption that we are consuming and producing at levels that "mostly resemble today" (Ratcliffe.2). He states a few problems: overpopulation, scarce resources, time-sensitive development, new technologies, complex economies, smaller enemies and more. Architects and government officials around the world should recognize that developing infrastructure requires integration with local cultures, climates, and government. This entails understanding the "stakeholders" involved, the "social network" created around the infrastructure, and the "consequences of present decisions" (Ratcliffe.6). As an example, a company builds a new office for employees in a developing industrial neighborhood, hosting new local retail businesses, creating new jobs. This sounds lucrative and productive for our society. However from an ecological standpoint: the building produce waste through material waste and carbon emissions. On a deeper level, creating this building in a developing neighborhood might gentrify the area and displace some existing tenants who cannot afford the rising rents, and higher cost of living. City planners should backcast to understand the case studies of how people were affected culturally and environmentally to see the consequences of infrastructural development, while forecasting to understand how our financial and economical resources will progress to fund our technological advancement."
--( posted on Mar 11, 2013, commenting on the post Approaches to Planning )
"I will be discussing how New Yorkers handle power outages: How do we get power back after a power outage in disaster scenarios? For example, during Hurricane Sandy, Aug 2003 blackout, what steps did they take to return power back to the city. Which areas affected the worst and why? Which areas got priority? Did we determine the order of operations? Social class? population density? danger level? What were the root of the causes we were trying to fix?"
--( posted on Feb 19, 2013, commenting on the post How New York Infrastructure Adapts to Climate Shifts )
"Mayor Bloomberg's actions are based soundly on scientific research and are the next logical steps to take to further long term reductions of energy consumption and GHG emission . The goal is the reduce the city's "annual output of GHGs by nearly 1.7 million metric tons and reduce peak demand for electricity by 220-megawatts" (21.Rosenweig). These are not temporary at all, rather these plans will have lasting effect until 2030. The NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force seeks out these risks and develops strategies to combat them via proposing infrastructure solutions for "energy, transportation, water, and waste, natural resources, and communications" (22.Rosensweig)."
--( posted on Feb 4, 2013, commenting on the post Week 2: Engage )
"Jane Jacob believed that there should be a "great abundance of parkland, campus, playground and other open spaces" (Jacobs.6) . A city is a place for community and breathing and she hates the steel coldness that some of the skyscrapers bring. She continues that a community needs "plenty of grass. It occupies high and pleasant ground with magnificent river views" (Jacobs.6). Her actions and philosophies were shaped around sustainability and aesthetics. Her position on PlaNYC, would be to enforce the projects that make NYC green by reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions. Jacobs would make a great advocate for PlaNYC."
--( posted on Feb 4, 2013, commenting on the post week 2 – Engage )
"Sanderson's Mannahatta draws a picture of a newfound cultural diversity and emerging economic wealth that stemmed from previously rich biodiversity, and ecological wealth. These views are refreshingly optimistic on the change throughout the centuries. "Humanity has completely triumphed" [13] over nature. Sanderson toots the horn of human development. Jacobs paints a more depressing picture on mankind suffering. Low income families are hit with poverty in the forms of "deliquency, vandalism, and general social hopelessness" [5]. Jacobs describes the repetitive cycles of middle class workers and the vanities and vulgarities of opulence. She imagines the world as a gilded place. Her outlook on metropolitan cities is vastly different even when they discuss the same progress in the city."
--( posted on Feb 4, 2013, commenting on the post Week 2: Engage )