The Jets are 2-0 (yes, the Jets); the Giants and their $60 million dollar man, Eli Manning, are 1-2; the Mets are leading the NL East by 7.5 games (yes, the Mets); and the Yankees are 3 games out of first place behind the Blue Jays, but are four games ahead of the Astros for a shot at the wild card slot in the upcoming Major League Baseball post season. All in all, it’s an interesting time to be a New York sports fan.
It’s also an interesting week to be a New Yorker, what with the Pope and President both in town and the United Nations General Assembly in session. As luck would have it, I’m traveling on business, visiting our South Florida offices. Yesterday and today are probably two of the best days in recent history not to be in NYC, where I work and live and usually relish being.
The annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly routinely tests the streets and people of New York, with 97% of the world’s leaders gathering in an area that can’t be larger than two square miles. Not to mention the countless law enforcement and security organizations that will be out in full force, from the NYPD to the U.S. Secret Service and every imaginable local, state and federal agency, to keep all of these dignitaries, including the President of the United States, safe and sound while in town. A tall order, to say the least.
Further complicating things, this year marks the first-ever visit to the U.S. by Pope Francis, who arrived in Washington, DC, Tuesday, where yesterday he became the first Pope in history to address Congress. Late yesterday afternoon, the Papal plane whisked him to New York at the height of the afternoon rush hour, in time to say evening mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which, for those of you who might not know, is in the dead-center of the east side of Manhattan). Then he headed uptown to spend the night at a Church-owned property on East 72nd Street, steps from Central Park.
Today, the Pope will speak at the U.N. (mid-town east), conduct a service at the 9/11 Memorial (downtown), visit a school in Harlem (uptown), lead a procession through Central Park (mid-town center), and then cap it all off by celebrating mass at Madison Square Garden (mid-town west). He’s got the whole island of Manhattan covered – a logistical, security and traffic nightmare if ever we’ve seen one. And with the President also in town, street closings will be the rule, rather than the exception. Travel in Manhattan, always a challenge during the work week, will be unimaginable.
I fly back to NY today on a noon flight from Florida, landing at LaGuardia at about 3pm, but without the entourage that greeted the Pope. My normal trip home from the airport takes about 20 minutes. But with all the road closures and without the benefit of a motorcade and police escort, it will be interesting to see what this particular trip home holds in store for me. Here’s to the adventure.