How To Escape From New York City

Todays Guest Post Article is entitled “How To Escape From New York” and has kindly been written and provided by Kimoosabi from



Home to 3.9 million people crammed on to 22.83 square miles of land enclosed by water. Staying in such a small enclosed area with so many people would mean death in a SHTF scenario.

Come along as we show you how to get off the island.

The only way on or off the island is by tunnel, bridge or boat – a journey that 2.3 million people make each day as they come in and out of “the city”, as it’s referred to by the locals. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what your options are in getting off the island. Even if you don’t work/live here, it’s an interesting puzzle to solve that has many layers of complexities.

One way to think about this problem is along the lines of the question that goes:

“How does a fly stop a train?”

I’ll answer that at the end but for now, let’s start sizing up the scope of how to escape Manhattan.

Evacuating New York City is a challenge that even the authorities have admitted they do not have a solution to. In fact, on the #ReadyNYC site there is zero mention of evacuation in the event of a calamity. Congestion of motorways and access/egress points is a daily event on the island and that is sans SHTF.

The horrific events that unfolded on 9/11 gave us a very clear picture of the chaos of so many people trying to get out of the city. Authorities closed bridges and tunnels leaving commuters trapped. There was a mass evacuation by boat (Boat lift – the video is below and if you haven’t watched it I recommend you do as it’s inspiring) that turned out to be the largest evacuation over water in history but it would be unwise to count on this happening again should the SHTF.


Because there has never been a SHTF event that would require such a massive evacuation (such as a dirty bomb, nuclear attack or grid down situation) any plan is built on several assumptions – any (or all) of which may turn out to be incorrect. If you’re putting together a plan for getting out of the city build in several contingencies that would kick in should situations unfold contrary to how you imagined them to. An example of this would be if your primary plan is to get out by bridge and all bridges were closed you need to have a backup plan on how to get out by boat or tunnel.


The focus of this article is evacuating west to New Jersey because that’s the largest challenge. There is only one bridge from the city that goes west but that bridge is located far north meaning that if you work downtown it is going to add on a good 4 hours to your hike just getting up there to cross over. Going east and north is fairly simple as you have bridges and tunnels that are fairly easy to navigate to.

For context, to the north lies Connecticut and New York state and to the east is Long Island. If that’s where you live you have a fairly straight shot with bridges being situated uptown (Robert F Kennedy), Midtown (Ed Koch Queensboro) and downtown you have Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

The toughest part of NJ to get to is going to be central Jersey as you have a single point of failure in that route which is going to be crossing the water. If you have no means to cross the Hudson and you’re leaving the city on foot you’re going to have to go north or south. Both ways have some serious ground for you to double back on. Also once in you’re in NJ you’re not necessarily safe. Jersey City, Newark, Elizabeth, and Irvington are densely populated areas that could be unfriendly to navigate in a grid-down SHTF situation.

Here are some facts about Manhattan to take into account:

  • Manhattan is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide.
  • In total there are 14 bridges and 5 tunnels accessible by car and in some cases foot (I don’t believe the tunnels allow for pedestrians under normal circumstances)

Map of NYC

For public access directly to NJ, here are the options:

  1. George Washington Bridge (GWB)
  2. Lincoln Tunnel
  3. Holland Tunnel
  4. NY Water Taxi to Hoboken
  5. NY Water Ferry to Belford or Atlantic Highland
  • The tunnels make use of huge pumps to remove the carbon monoxide.
  • New York City has some of the toughest gun laws in the USA. The SAFE act ensures that very few can legally possess a firearm and absolutely no one can be walking around with one. Just worth noting as it’s going to be a long walk home wherever you live and you’re going to be doing it without a firearm.


The most likely scenarios that would trigger a mass evacuation of New York City is some form of sudden attack similar in scope to what happened on 9/11. The grid does not have to go down to render all forms of transport useless due to the congestion that would occur if you had over 3 million people all trying to leave the island at once through only 19 access points.


Hiking it on foot or bike is the only way you’re going to be able to leave. For the sake of this discussion, the actual type of event is not important. It could be a cyber attack that shuts down the grid or a huge bomb that fells a building – the cause is not important. What is important is having multiple bug out routes in the event that you cannot make it to your original point of egress.


If there is an explosion or attack of any kind you must move in the opposite direction. Because your egress points are north (GWB) and south (Brooklyn) your route will be dictated by your freedom of movement based on the situation. If an attack occurs south you will be going north and if the attack hits to the north you will be heading south. Therefore you need to have both routes mapped and contingency plans for those egress points not being accessible.

Manhattan bridges map

Going west on the north side you have one bridge you can use which is the George Washington Bridge (#1). This bridge allows for pedestrians which is a plus. However, it is far north (access is on 177th street in Harlem). If you work anywhere from midtown to downtown and you’re trying to get back to central or south New Jersey you have a hike in front of you (it’s 4 hours from South Ferry at the tip of Manhattan) just to get to the bridge. Once you’ve crossed it’s going to take you several hours to go back down south to get to Central or South Jersey.

Going a southerly route is more complex but is quicker obviously if you live in the south or even central New Jersey. The complexity is that you have to navigate three bridges which triples your chances of something going wrong in crossing them. You will need to walk across either the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridge (#2), both of which will take you into Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge does allow for crossing on foot which is a bonus in case it’s vehicle gridlock you’re avoiding but might be immaterial in the event of a grid down scenario as all bridges in that instance could allow foot traffic.

Once you get into Brooklyn you will need to navigate down Route 278 (also known as the Belt Parkway) and make your way to the Verrazano Bridge (#3) that will take you into Staten Island. Depending on where in Jersey you are headed you can either go west along 278 and cross into NJ via the Gowanus (#4) or you can continue South along 440 to the Outerbridge crossing at the southernmost part of the island (#5).


kayaking in the hudson

Evacuating by water would be the most direct way of getting out of Manhattan. It would be great if there were another “Boatlift” and who knows perhaps this could be on the cards but do not count on it. The cause of the mass evacuation will dictate what options for getting out are on the table. Plan to evacuate without having to rely on something the authorities are going to do and if something else becomes available that’s a bonus.

Kayaking across the Hudson is doable – these guys do it every day to get to work. Keeping a Kayak in the city (unless it’s inflatable) may not be an option however for $350/year you can store one at the 79th Street Boat Basin. If you’re thinking of kayaking across just be sure that you’re in good enough physical shape to do so and that you have spent time on a kayak and trained somewhere with it. It would be a shame to go to all that effort to avoid death by SHTF on Manhattan only to succumb to death by drowning or hyperthermia on the Hudson. Also if you end up in the water during winter after falling in from your kayak or capsizing you have about 15 – 30 minutes (assuming the water is between 32.5-40 degrees F) to get out before exhaustion and or unconsciousness sinks in.

Depending on how bad winter is on average you could expect the months of November to March to be tough to navigate the Hudson by Kayak. But that leaves seven months of the year in which you have a fairly easy (assuming you’re in physical shape to do this) way of getting out of the city should SHTF.

Oh and if money is not an option there are always the folks at Plan B (link) who will hold a boat ready to go for you at a nominal cost of $7,500/year.


Crossing by tunnel might be the quickest, safest option depending on whether the authorities allow people to use them. The Lincoln and Holland Tunnels are supposedly on the list of extremely high-risk targets in NYC and it’s very likely they will be shut as SHTF. However, in the event, they’re open they’re a straight shot to New Jersey regardless of whether you’re downtown (Battery Park to Staten Island or Holland to NJ) or midtown/uptown (Lincoln).

There are those out there who will say trying to cross by tunnel is a bad idea due to high levels of carbon monoxide. There is a run every year from NYC to NJ that goes directly through the Lincoln tunnel. I’m guessing if Carbon Monoxide poisoning was a real thing this run wouldn’t be taking place or there would be fatalities.



Make sure you have a get home bag (GHB) that’s at your desk that will allow you to make it to where you need to be. However, you get over the water to New Jersey you will still have a good amount of ground to cover on foot. The items we recommend for your GHB, based on the book Survival Theory can be found here.


Map out your routes. Google Maps is useful for this. Print the map and the directions just in case. Laminate them and keep them in your GHB. Take a walk to where you would get on the bridges, ferries, tunnels and get to know those areas. Don’t assume that you will be able to communicate via cell phone in a disaster. If you’re going to be meeting up with anyone make a series of meeting points and list them as primary, secondary, tertiary etc… The idea is if one of them is inaccessible you move on the next without any need for communication. Create a window of time you will wait for one another in the event of the need to bug out so that everyone is on the same page as to what is.


You will need to be in shape to get back home. If you’re carrying a backpack and walking 20 miles it will suck if you’re physically fit and are in good physical shape. If you have not got your body into a condition that will allow you to carry the load a bad situation is going to be made a lot worse. Get in shape. Practice going for long periods of time with a weighted backpack on your back.

Too many preppers are relying on gear alone to save them. This is a trap. Getting in shape increases your probability of surviving anything including a SHTF situation in which you have to escape Manhattan.


There are a few ways off Manhattan but none of them are fool-proof and all of them hinge on some assumptions that will need to be met in order to be successful. This means that there is a good possibility

So back to the riddle asked at the start of this article: “How does a fly stop a train?”. The answer is that it doesn’t. It gets out of the way. If being stuck on an island 60 miles away from home when SHTF sounds like a bad idea, the only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is not to be on the island in the first place.

Impractical for some but that’s the choice Vey (co-founder of Prepperlytics) and so many others have made. Any bug out scenario from Manhattan is a long shot at best. Getting off the island is only the first part – the trek across 30 plus miles back to home is going to take place in very urban, unfriendly areas post SHTF. And you’re going to be doing this unarmed. However, if you’re like me and you have hungry mouths to feed and a significant other with expensive taste you don’t necessarily have a choice except to plan, prepare and train for a day where you may have to be kayaking out of Manhattan.

A Big Thanks To Kimoosabi

The article above was kindly contributed by Kimoosabi from Prepperlytics, and the original title, “How To Escape From New York” can be found on the blog.

Prepperlytics is an online website that provides web tools that help preppers calculate food storage and the number of calories that would be needed post SHTF.


The SHTF Calorie Calculator is one of many tools in the Prepperlytics Suite;
a new way to organize your preps.

Use the Calorie Calculator

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