Sandy’s Iconic Cover and The Story Behind It

Perhaps the most iconic photo to emerge post-Sandy is this cover of New York Magazine – shot by architecture photographer Iwan Baan (whom I actually just met a few weeks ago at a Halloween Party hosted by Storefront for Art and Architecture). Following the storm, Manhattan was left divided in two, that is “SOPO” and “NOPO” (“South of Power” and “North of Power”) for almost a week.

By now this cover image has already gained lots and lots of coverage. There is one anecdote that I’ve read in a few places that goes like this:

“What was on your mind when you took this picture?” Iwan replied, “As I looked at the glowing Goldman Sachs tower and the bright buildings surrounding this financial icon—I saw who has the power and how problematic that is for this country.”

I think that the conclusion that Iwan reaches is forced. The fact is that Goldman Sachs was crazily prepared for the storm, while others brushed off the severity of impending Sandy (_cough NYU Hospital _cough). In an interview with the CEO of Goldman Sachs he states their borderline OCD preparation for the storm, and frustration following criticisms of Goldman Sachs after the storm.

All in all the cover is gorgeous and bound to be remembered down that line as an iconic image – but it is also important to remember that “iconic” can cause vast over-simplifications of complex circumstances.

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