Dangling crane becomes scary NYC tourist attraction

(CBS News) NEW YORK - In New York, there is plenty of trouble below the streets, with the tunnels that carry trains and cars flooded.

But on Tuesday a lot of New Yorkers were looking above the streets -- at a construction crane that collapsed in the high winds and is still dangling like the sword of Damocles over 1,000 feet above a busy street.

The construction crane more than 70 stories above West 57th St. and 6th Ave. in Manhattan's midtown is now putting hundreds of residents in the area at risk.

"It's a billionaire bonus baby kind of building, many millionaires are already buying apartments there," said Juliet Papa, a New York City radio reporter.

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Papa, who works for the CBS-affiliated 1010 WINS, lives in the shadow of the luxury high rise, where two duplexes are reportedly under contract for $90 million each. Papa says the crane was a concern even before the hurricane.

According to records at New York City's building department, there have been 21 complaints filed at this construction site already this year, seven of them specific to the crane.

Three city officials say the complaints had been dealt with before the hurricane and that continuing high winds are preventing engineers from taking a closer look at the crane. But earlier Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg assured the city that the crane is in no danger of falling.

"The procedure there will, when the winds die down, to try to get the boom and strap it to the building and then we could reopen the streets," Bloomberg said.

In the meantime, residents and business owners like talent agent Steve Herz have been evacuated.

"We're really damaged by this," he said. "Clients are calling, nobody's answering the phones, we're scurrying to send out email messages, Twitter -- It's bad."

And tourists stranded by Sandy are taking advantage of what is the best draw in town.

City officials say they will send engineers up to the crane as soon as winds calm to less than 30 mph.

  • Erin Moriarty

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"