Monday, September 21, 2015

Still More Papal Prep

Channel 7 news truck parked near the Vatican Mission Residence on Monday afternoon
Things are really heating up in New York as the big week begins.  With the General Assembly already in session and heads of state arriving traffic in mid-town was already getting nasty.  On Monday I had to be in mid-town for several reasons (and will be there again on Wednesday).  Traffic down Park Avenue was not bad till my cab passed 57th Street.  Then we stopped almost completely.  The next two blocks were a creeping crawl, with minutes of just standing still.  Since I had to be somewhere at 11 I ended up paying the fare and getting out and walking the rest of the way.

I followed my meeting with the Noon Mass at St. Patrick's.  I haven't seen the interior of the cathedral since attending the Vigil Mass the evening before the funeral of Cardinal Egan in March.  At that time there was still a great deal of scaffolding still in place, so it was very nice to see the newly cleaned interior all fresh and shining in anticipation of Thursday evening's Vesper service with the Pope.  Even so, it was obvious that some final details are still being worked on.  But there was one big negative impression.  From where I sat (on the 51st Street side, near the transept door) I could hear almost nothing said by the woman lector or the presiding priest, who seemed to be visiting from the diocese of Metuchen (at least that's what I think he said) when they stood at the lectern for the readings and homilette.  Sound was fine once the priest and concelebrants moved to the altar.  So, clearly it wasn't my ears that failed.  I certainly hope that those who will be sitting in that same location Thursday evening will have an easier time hearing than I did.

As one might expect, the area around the cathedral clearly shows the effect of planning for security.  The same large concrete blocks have been placed along 51st Street (which is how I approached and left the cathedral) as are located in my neighborhood.

Returning home in mid-afternoon I discovered that the trees and streetlights of my own block have been covered with the same signs I saw on 72nd Street last Friday.  So, as of Tuesday morning at 1 AM there will be no parking permitted on the block till Saturday evening at 8 PM.   I knew the block would be closed to traffic during the overnight hours both Thursday and Friday, but having the no parking effort applied so soon here too was a bit of a surprise.

A late afternoon errand took me across Central Park to the West Side and the tale is the same.  Central Park West will also be off limits for parking (on both sides) starting Tuesday morning and ending Saturday evening.  In fact, south of 72nd Street the west side of CPW (with the buildings) has already been barricaded by the police as far down as Columbus Circle.  I'll be over there again tomorrow and will see if the barricading will have spread north of 72nd Street.  

Returning home again in the early evening I found our evening doorman, whose shift ends at midnight, wondering out loud where he can park his car these next few days.  I'm sure there are quite a few folks in Manhattan wondering the same thing tonight.

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