NYC and tri-state rocked by biggest area earthquake since 1884, sending terrified residents into the streets

A rare earthquake rocked the New York City area Friday morning, swaying buildings and sending terrified residents into the streets — the strongest temblor to strike near the Big Apple in 140 years.

City officials quickly warned people of the danger of potential aftershocks — which began in the early afternoon in New Jersey, a report said.

The preliminary 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck near Lebanon, NJ, around 10:23 a.m. and was potentially felt by more than 42 million people, according to the US Geological Survey.

“I was doing my morning reporting, and this safe in my office, that’s a ton, starts shaking. The whole room is shaking,” said Monique Horton, who works at the Balmain store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. “I was just freaked out. Scary, really scary. I’m a New Yorker, my whole life, 36 years, never seen anything like it.”

A magnitude-4.8 earthquake rocked NYC and the tri-state area. USGS

At the United Nations in Midtown Manhattan, a Security Council address on the Israel-Gaza conflict was interrupted as cameras began shuddering.  

The Federal Aviation Administration told airlines to expect flight delays in and out of the Big Apple because of the quake. Some flights bound for New York had already diverted to other airports, according to FlightAware.

Firefighters and residents on the streets in Lebanon, NJ. Robert Miller for NY Post
Lebanon was the epicenter of the quake. Robert Miller for NY Post
Residents were seen leaving their homes after the quake shook the neighborhood. Robert Miller for NY Post
Fire departments responded to the area. Robert Miller for NY Post
Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York.
Sign at Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York about registraion package available.
NYC Buildings car parked outside of Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York.
Exterior of Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York.
Exterior of back of Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York.
Entrance to Sinnot Magnet School in Brooklyn, New York.

The busy Holland Tunnel, too, was being temporarily shuttered for inspection, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

Tremors could be felt as far north as New Paltz, New York — about 80 miles away — and as far south as Delaware, about 130 miles.

The US Geological Survey logged 160,000 reports on its website from panicked residents in the quake’s aftermath – a potential new record, officials said.

“This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

The last time an earthquake with a magnitude close to 5 struck near New York City was back in 1884, the USGS said. That quake appeared to have been centered in Brooklyn.

A stronger 5.8 quake was felt in the city in 2011, although that started in Virginia.

Friday’s temblor was the strongest to hit New Jersey in 240 years, according to the Fox Forecast Center.  

New York Post cover for April 6, 2024.

USGS officials said at least two aftershocks had been recorded by Friday afternoon.

Both Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage from Friday’s quake, however it later emerged that the walls of a gym at a Brooklyn middle school suffered several cracks.

Engineers with the city Department of Buildings were dispatched to J.H.S. 218 James P. Sinnott in East New York, where they ordered the gymnasium shut down until repairs are made, though the rest of the school can remain open, the agency said.

It was determined the bricks that make up the gym’s masonry walls could potentially break loose due to the cracks, according to the DOB. No other structural issues were found in the school.

Meanwhile, Hochul and Adams warned New Yorkers to be wary of the possible aftershocks.

“We are always concerned about aftershocks after an earthquake but New Yorkers should go about their normal day,” Hizzoner said.

“Earthquakes don’t happen every day in New York, so this can be extremely traumatic. I encourage New Yorkers to check on their loved ones to make sure that they are fine.”

City and state officials said there were no reported infrastructure issues as a result of the quake, noting that all major bridges and tunnels had been inspected.

“At this point … we’ve not identified any life-threatening situations, but we are certainly asking our local law enforcement and emergency services teams to be on guard for that as well,” Hochul said.

“But again, we are going to be reviewing all potentially vulnerable infrastructure sites throughout the state of New York that is critically important in the aftermath of an event like this.”

“It’s been a very unsettling day, to say the least,” she said, adding she had been in communication with the White House. “Everyone should continue to take this seriously.”

The mayor of Lebanon, NJ – near the quake’s epicenter – said there were no reports of injuries or significant damage there either but acknowledged people were unnerved.

The quake hit near Lebanon, New Jersey, and could be felt as far as Delaware.

“I was sitting in my home office when things started to fall off the walls and shelves,” Mayor James Pittinger told The Post. “It was a crazy experience.”

Some residents in Newark, NJ, though, had to evacuate their homes after they suffered structural damage, according to local outlets.  

Still, reports of the quake sparked a flurry of memes and jokes on social media, with the Empire State Building’s official X account jumping into the fray, quipping, “I AM FINE.”

New York City sent out an emergency alert about the earthquake.

“We survived the NYC earthquake. We will rebuild,” one user wrote alongside a photo of a fallen trash can.

“As New York was hit by an earthquake, I couldn’t help but wonder, were the tecnotic [sic] plates as unstable as my history with Big?” another wrote, riffing off Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and The City.”

“Did we shake or were we shook?” another user posted on X alongside footage of Oprah.

But residents all over the tri-state area — and beyond — were still rattled.

Kelly Shone, a mom of two who works nights in Newark, Del., said she felt a “slight rumbling” while in bed Friday morning.

“I thought it was my husband walking heavily downstairs at first,” Shone told The Post.

A shirt is displayed as earthquake themed T-shirts are being sold at Big Frog Custom T Shirts in NYC. REUTERS
The shirts were created just hours after the quake rocked NYC. REUTERS
Lebanon firemen check on housing after the quake on Friday. Robert Miller

“Oh, my God! I jumped and started looking out my windows. That was scary!” said Traci Slade, a 50-year-old mom of two and software insurance employee who felt the quake at her home in Clifton, NJ.

Panicked workers evacuated some buildings in Queens in the aftermath, including paralegal Felicia Alfred, who said, “We thought the building was going to collapse on us.”

A resident of Bridgewater, NJ, said he heard a loud bang — “like the loudest thunder you ever heard” — followed by 15 seconds of rumbling.

Denise Tedeschi, 60, of Bedminster, NJ, said everything in her home shook for at least a minute.

“I thought the furnace or something was about to explode,” she told The Post. “Everything shaking.”

Additional reporting by Kate Sheehy, Chris Nesi, Carl Campanile and Katherine Donlevy