I left work at six last night and instead of going to the subway I headed east to the post office. I quickly noticed there were more than the usual sirens and speeding emergency vehicles. I heard someone on the street talking about a manhole explosion. As I approached Lexington Avenue and 24th Street I could see the crowds standing on the corners and even in the street looking uptown. The steam pipe explosion (as I later found out) was at 41st street , a little under a mile uptown but Lex is a straight shot and uphill so we could all see the clouds of steam still pulsing out of the ground. The cloud itself was quickly engulfing the yellow building across from the Chrysler Building. Almost everyone was on cellphones or PDAs trying to get more information. I don't think there was a sense of fear in the crowd more a concern and anxiety. Some people were taking photos. I tried to call The Wife but I couldn't get through on my cell phone (thanks, Cingular). It was a real 21st century moment.
After I went to the post office the cloud had completely covered the yellow building and steam was still pulsing out of the ground. I headed to the subway figuring it was probably an isolated accident and if it wasn't I should get to my family. I finally got The Wife on the phone and walked to Sixth Avenue to take the F home since I figured the 6 wasn't going anywhere for awhile.
So, that's my steam pipe explosion story.