International guests of a Manhattan hotel that was evacuated after the partial collapse of a crane over West 57th Street gathered near the site this morning, pleading for access to their clothes, money and passports.
About 50 travelers from Ireland, the U.K., Australia, France and Ecuador congregated at barricades at 57th Street and Sixth Avenue. They sought entry to the Salisbury Hotel in a coordinated attempt to work through their local consulates and override police restrictions.
New York City police and a representative from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office responded to the gathering and denied the visitors access to the hotel. Representatives from each consulate were summoned to the scene and asked to help their nationals secure emergency passports and arrange to have their belongings shipped home, said Bradford Billet, a deputy commissioner with the mayor’s Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol.
“The consulates gave out bad information to their nationals so they all came at the exact same time,” said Billet, who met with hotel guests on the street.
The construction crane at the luxury One57 condominium project partially collapsed on Oct. 29 as gusts from superstorm Sandy pounded Manhattan. Buildings near the site at 157 W. 57th St., including Le Parker Meridien hotel and the Salisbury, were evacuated, and nearby streets remain closed as the crane’s boom hovers like a dagger aimed at 57th Street.
Hours after the gathering, city officials decided to allow people onto the closed block to gather belongings. Starting at about 5 p.m., police will escort people into the area for five-minute increments to take what they need, said Detective Kelly Ort, a police department spokeswoman.
City engineers are devising a method for removing or securing the crane’s dangling boom, a process that may take weeks, following multiple trips this week to the the top floors of the 90-story luxury development. The tower, being developed by Extell Development Co., is poised to be New York’s tallest residential building.
Even after the area is opened to residents and workers, sporadic street closings may continue for weeks as parts of the crane are removed and new components hoisted, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday at a news conference.
“We’ll do the best we can,” Bloomberg said. “We do expect the weather to cooperate and we’ll be able to tie it down, which will allow us to dramatically reduce the size of the area that you can’t go in.”
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Employees at the Salisbury, which is adjacent to One57 and almost in the crane’s shadow, went door to door on the afternoon of Oct. 29, telling guests to leave immediately, said John Rippon, 65, who’s from Adelaide, Australia, and was staying at the hotel during a monthlong tour of North America.
“We got out -- and all too quickly, because most of us left Visa cards, passports, money in the safe,” said Rippon, who said he also left his arthritis medication behind. “A lot of these people are penniless. It’s the most appalling state we’ve found ourselves in because we evacuated so quickly.”
Salisbury guests were taken to the basement of the Ritz-Carlton hotel near Central Park as the storm gathered force, then moved to a shelter at an Upper West Side high school, before being offered rooms at the Milburn Hotel on West 76th Street, Rippon said.
“We’re walking around in the clothes we’re standing in,” said Margaret Flood, 57, who’s visiting from Maynooth, Ireland. “We’re booking into a hotel with two plastic bags.”