In Manhattan last Tuesday afternoon, The Scrapbook discovered what it’s like to get close to the president, and it stinks. We also now understand how to assemble a huge crowd to admire a presidential motorcade: You simply close 40 blocks of one of the busiest streets in the world. With typical attention to detail, the closure was scheduled for the beginning of rush hour, from about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m. The Scrapbook joined a mass of several thousand New Yorkers gazing longingly across Park Avenue toward now-distant destinations while a nearby cop shouted encouragement: “Stay on the sidewalk!” and “Get back on the sidewalk!” He also helpfully volunteered, “If you want to go north, you can walk west until . . . oh wait, no you can’t.” This was his suggestion on how to escape from the corner of 85th Street, where the motorcade route swung left to cut through Central Park, making the shortest route to the 86th Street subway station a westerly circumambulation of the globe.
The motorcade itself contained, so far as The Scrapbook could establish, 57 vehicles, including the 2 presidential limos, 16 motorcycles, 12 SUVs, 11 black vans, a number of marked and unmarked police cars, an ambulance, a tow truck, and on and on. As the limos drove by (their contents invisible), cheering erupted from the four or five people who didn’t actually have somewhere to go in Manhattan at 5 p.m. The real cheering began several minutes later when the police told the crowd they could finally go to the 86th Street station.