Friday, September 25, 2015

Day Two New York

The view from our doorway on East 73rd Street
Today was Pope Francis' only full day in New York and it was very full indeed, including:  a speech to the UN General Assembly, a visit to the September 11th Memorial and Museum, a visit to a Catholic school in East Harlem, a "procession" through Central Park and Mass in Madison Square Garden.

For me, his temporary neighbor, today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday.  There were police cars and "black cars" (possibly Secret Service) parked up to the door, lots of barricades and lots of walking.
East 73rd Street looking west toward Madison

Today was my usual day to work as a volunteer in the Metropolitan Museum's Visitor Services department.  I left the house extra early so as to allow time to walk up to the museum and to allow for any obstacles on the route.  Surprisingly, the walk was very clear and I arrived extra early. Also surprisingly Madison Avenue was open to traffic and to pedestrians, at least on the eastern side.
Madison Avenue and 73rd Street looking South toward
72nd Street around 2 PM.  The Pope had just returned
from his visits to the UN and September 11th
Memorial and Museum

The museum seemed somewhat empty, but my experience over the next few hours suggested that this was more the effect of the easing off of the summer tourism crush than anything to do with our distinguished visitor.  I was pretty steadily busy all afternoon, without the thumb twiddling periods of idleness my first impression suggested.  We had a steady stream of visitors, including many from Australia, with a few Europeans as well, plus the constant number of American visitors.  The subject of the papal visit came up occasionally, mostly when the visitor asked about travel to the West Side or about Central Park.  We don't just get questions about the museum contents and exhibitions, bathrooms and restaurants.  I've been asked for directions to various points in the city, where to find the subways, how to use the buses and even for recommendations on where to eat near Grand Central Station.  This afternoon one young man wanted guidance on where to find bodies of water in Central Park that weren't off limits.  The small lake near 59th Street, the Conservatory Pond and the main Lake were all off limits today.   The answer:  enter the park at 85th Street, which will give you access to the Turtle Pond to the South (which may or may not be off limits) and the Reservoir to the North (definitely not off limits).  

Returning home from a meeting that took place after my shift ended I found things much the same as last night, although there were even more police cars parked on the block.  Things are very quiet as they were last night too.  I hope that the Holy Father will have a restful night before his departure early tomorrow for Philadelphia.  He has surely earned it.  
East 73rd Street looking west toward Madison Avenue

Adios Santo Padre!  Dios te bendiga!

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