The construction crane that collapsed atop what is slated to be one of New York's tallest residential buildings will remain dangling over 57th Street until the weather allows workers to safely secure it, officials said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the crane appears to have flipped over backwards, probably in one of the strong Hurricane Sandy's wind gusts Monday afternoon.
With winds expected to reach higher speeds as the night goes on, emergency responders have cleared the streets and evacuated nearby buildings, including the Parker-Meridien hotel.
No other cars or pedestrians are being allowed into the potential seven-block "collapse zone," which stretches from Fifth Avenue to Broadway, and from 56th Street to 59th Street.
Department of Buildings inspectors had planned to make their way as high as they could safely go to assess the situation, but it was unclear how far they would be able to get or what they would able to see under the extreme conditions of Sandy.
The luxury condominium building at 157 57th St., called One57, has attracted lots of attention on recent weeks not just for its size, but for the size of its apartments' price tags. Dubbed "the global billionaires club" by The New York Times, the 90-story building includes nine full-floor apartments being sold for $45 million to $90 million.
The collapsed crane appears to be about 80 stories up. It was inspected Friday, Bloomberg said.
Shannon Kaye, 96, lives in the building next door.
"We heard a noise, but we didn't know what it was," she said. Minutes later, she and her neighbors were told to leave.
"I never liked that building, looking down into my bedroom," she said. "I always had the feeling that something would come falling down from it."
The New York City Buildings Department suspended construction work at 5 p.m. Saturday in anticipation of the storm.
It reminded contractors and property owners to secure construction sites and buildings. It also was performing random inspections to make sure equipment was secured.
The crane was owned by Bovis Lend Lease, one of the largest construction companies in the city. Bloomberg was careful not to blame the company, and said it would be days before officials figured out what happened.
Construction cranes have been a source of safety worries in the city since two giant rigs collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing a total of nine people.