New President Means New Gridlock at NYC’s 57th and FifthBy
Expect delays at Trump Tower and other properties worldwide
Real-estate empire means a global hassle for security forces
Donald Trump’s transformation to president-elect from real-estate investor may make his namesake Manhattan skyscraper a monument to gridlock.
Already, city Sanitation Department trucks line the curb and clog traffic on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street as the Secret Service and police try to secure Trump Tower, where he lives and has his international headquarters. Thousands of people protesting Trump’s election victory filled the streets around the tower Wednesday, with hundreds of police flooding the area and sirens sounding through the night as more than 20 were arrested.
Motorists and bus riders can expect tie-ups and pedestrians in the swarming neighborhood will be delayed by sidewalk lock-downs near the 58-story building. New Yorkers are used to enduring such inconvenience when the president visits or when the United Nations General Assembly convenes each September. Yet an ongoing presence at the corner of one of Manhattan’s most congested spots would be unprecedented, Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Davis said.
“We’re coming up on the holiday season, and we will need to work with the Secret Service to provide security at a stretch that includes the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and all the shopping, the Bergdorf’s, the Gucci, every other known brand, and we will have to make it work,” Davis said. “There’s no getting around it. It could be a major inconvenience.”
In the city that’s been considered among the riskiest U.S. terrorism targets since the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, 35,000 police officers and the Secret Service will be challenged to protect Trump Tower and at least a dozen buildings and complexes that carry the family name. High-profile properties in Manhattan that bear Trump’s name include a 72-story tower near the United Nations, a building on Wall Street and hotels at the southern tip of Central Park West and in Soho.
Trump, 70, campaigned pledging to destroy the Islamic State and other terrorists. He proposed a halt to immigration and visits to the U.S. from nations “with a history of exporting terrorism,” until new government procedures are in place to screen applicants.
Police have had a full-time presence outside the tower since Trump became the Republican nominee in July. It’s intensified since he was elected, with unmarked cars and plainclothes officers, said Lieutenant Eugene Whyte, who was standing at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street.
"When Trump became the president-elect, there’s a different level of protection involved." Whyte said. Besides the obvious marked vehicles and officers, "there’s a lot more that you don’t see."
Extra security will also be needed at Mar-a-Lago, the club and estate in Palm Beach, Florida, that Trump treats as a second home, and his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which his campaign frequently used for strategy sessions and other meetings. His Washington hotel, which opened five blocks from the White House in September, might be similarly used by a Trump presidency.
It’s less clear what the implications will be for Trump-branded properties, many of which he neither developed nor owns, both in the U.S. and in places as far-flung as India and South Korea. Wednesday night protests across at least 25 U.S. cities against Trump’s win targeted some of these buildings.
In New York, thousands protested outside Trump Tower and near Columbus Circle, not far from a hotel bearing the president-elect’s name near the southern edge of Central Park. It’s impossible to cordon off the tower or other Trump properties in the middle of bustling Manhattan, so the Secret Service and NYPD will have to design other ways to protect them from attack while retaining acceptable traffic flow, Davis said.
The department’s 550-officer Critical Response Command is a mobile force that travels the city guarding buildings deemed to be a potential terror target, and it also has a rapid-deployment Strategic Response Group for civil disturbances and weather-related crises, which may have to add all or some of these sites to its training exercises, Davis said.
When heads of state and diplomats converge for the General Assembly, it costs about $1 million a day to guard Manhattan’s east side. Avenues slow to a crawl, with barricades and police on every corner. While security that intense may not be needed daily, they’ll be imposed whenever Trump returns home, Davis said.
The city has handled temporary security challenges, such as last year’s visit by Pope Francis, and the Republican National Convention in 2004. The difference now is that “for the next two months, we’re going to have a resident president, which will require establishing a security status quo for a while,” Davis said.
The security challenge dwarfs that of the Secret Service’s job guarding President Barack Obama’s home in Chicago’s Hyde Park area, a 24-hour vigil that entails agents in black SUVs positioned at the ends of the 5000 block of South Greenwood Avenue. In 2012, a resident told the local news Website DNAinfo Chicago, their presence had enhanced the block’s safety and given it the feel of a cul-de-sac where children could play Frisbee in the street.
Trump Place, a complex of apartment buildings covering 12 blocks and 92 acres along Manhattan’s west side waterfront, presents a special challenge because of its size. All the properties may need to be reconsidered as to how serious a threat they face, Davis said.
“There’s no question the name Trump and all the properties associated with him, even in Florida and Chicago and Washington D.C., raise the profile and require a careful risk and vulnerability assessment,” Davis said.
The scene at Trump Tower this week included metal barricades police set up around the building, said Derrick Coe, 51, a doorman at the Chanel store nearby.
At Tiffany & Co., a guard moved a metal blockade to admit shoppers. The store “is in frequent communication with the New York Police Department and U.S. Secret Service regarding safety and security,” said spokesman Nathan Strauss.
Across the street at Prada, the Italian-based high-fashion store, there were fewer shoppers than usual Wednesday and Thursday, said clerk Love Honore. Some shoppers complained about crowds of tourists, many of whom were Trump supporters taking photographs and buying souvenirs. Others were bothered by protesters.
“It’s disgusting. We’re supposed to support whoever is elected,” said Christie Guerriera, who was trying to get into Trump Tower and described herself as “an absolute Trump supporter.”
Becky Palsmeier, a tourist from Colorado, supported the protesters. “I’m from the Vietnam era, I did this in my twenties, and I think it’s great,” she said. “We’re just hanging and enjoying every bit of it.”
— With assistance by Caleb Melby, John Hyland, Sarah Very, Katherine Doherty, Victoria Dey, Sarah Mulholland, and Stephanie Hoi-Nga Wong