Obama visit puts NYC neighborhood on lockdown

In the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City no traffic would be allowed on the surrounding streets for much of the day, Tuesday, due to a visit by President Obama. Residents of 22nd Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues would need to show identification to be able to walk on the block. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/08/nyregion/before-a-visit-from-obama-a-chelsea-block-goes-on-lockdown.html?ref=us&_r=0 Nobody could be on the street when the president arrived or departed. No one could stand on their roofs or on their stoops.
President Obama was scheduled to attend a fund-raiser on Tuesday afternoon at the home of Bryan Eure and Bill White, the former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and the chairman of the Constellations Group, a business development firm. Guests at the $25,000-per-seat event, to raise money for Democratic candidates in the midterm elections, included the entertainers Rosie O’Donnell, Aretha Franklin and Mark Wahlberg.
Mr. Eure and Mr. White are newcomers on a block that has been more typically known for more ordinary idiosyncrasies: extravagant observations of Halloween; a home for formerly homeless older people with special needs, whose most prominent resident, known as the mayor of 22nd Street, keenly observed the movements of passers-by; and a noisy flock of chickens in the backyard of a townhouse owned by the actor Rip Torn.
Longtime residents saw this as a sign of change in their neighborhood, a shift expedited since the opening of the High Line, the change in ownership of the Empire Diner, and a new crop of galleries and condo buildings nearby. The president’s next stop was Greenwich, Conn.
“When we bought our townhouse in 1980, we did it because we couldn’t afford the Village,” said Karen Jacob, who manages the newsletter of the local block association, which claims to be the city’s oldest such association. “The N.Y.P.D. told us this block was where they would send their rookie cops, for baptism under fire, and we believed it. But I don’t remember the block ever being in lockdown.”
The United States Secret Service, which has come under heavy criticism for recent security breaches, prepared for weeks for Mr. Obama’s visit. A security detail took over the basement of the townhouse where the fund-raiser was to be held and ballistic shielding was temporarily installed, according to a person who was familiar with the arrangements but was not authorized to speak publicly.
But hours before the president’s arrival, the house was open as catering staff from Cipriani wandered in and out. A large contingent of police officers was congregating on the block.
Mr. White, a vocal opponent of the CitiBike stand next to his house outside Clement Clarke Moore Park, had unsuccessfully tried to have them removed. On Tuesday, the blue bikes were gone, having been removed the night before, the docks covered with red plastic coats reading “out of service.”
“The block is closed!” a city police officer shouted at a confused bicyclist in a suit who had pedaled past the barriers seeking to dock his bike. He promptly pedaled away.
At the Frederic Fleming House, the home for low-income older people, across the street from the site of the event, residents were thrilled at the news of Mr. Obama’s arrival. Floyd Leon Fuller, 72, and a former resident of Harlem who performed at the Apollo Theater, had dressed in a red suit with a matching tie for the occasion. He held a head shot and a résumé that he hoped to hand to Mr. Obama. “I can sing and dance better than Michael Jackson, I can do it all day, and I would like Mr. Obama to assess my talent,” he said, breaking into a rendition of “Harbor Lights.”
Other residents, who spend their days in chairs on the sidewalk greeting passers-by and pacing the block, expressed uniform disappointment that they would have to abandon their post on such an exciting day.
Ms. Jacob was less enthusiastic, saying she had heard about the impending visit only via local gossip. “No one takes ID with them when they walk their dogs —how were we supposed to know?” she said. “No one told us anything about this, we had to ask. Now people are asking me where their nannies are supposed to go if the park is closed. Sure, it’s exciting, but it’s an inconvenience.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: