UN meeting to disrupt traffic in Manhattan

Pedestrians walk by the United Nations headquarters building.

Pedestrians walk by the United Nations headquarters building. Photo Credit: AP, 2007

advertisement | advertise on newsday

With Manhattan's resident population at 1.6 million, and nearly 775,000 drivers estimated in midtown daily, what does next week's meeting at the United Nations General Assembly of about 125 world leaders mean for getting around town?

Trouble, count on it.

The NYPD will be deploying hundreds of officers, not only around the UN headquarters on the East Side but also in security details for the hundreds of heads of state, foreign ministers and others who will be traveling around Manhattan for meetings.

As diplomats leave their hotels, motorists and pedestrians can expect frozen traffic zones and unannounced street and sidewalk closings.

The UN meetings typically slow taxis to a crawl -- about 7 mph, city data show.

World leaders, including President Barack Obama, will be visiting at various times. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will begin holding talks with diplomats and officials as early as 7:30 a.m. Sunday, a spokeswoman said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Added to the mix is anti-American attacks in some Muslim nations and ongoing controversy over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Both matters promise to spark demonstrations here, adding to the burden of the NYPD.

"We have security for people that come in and they're sort of ranked [at] various levels of concern and threat, and we allocate our resources in response to that ranking, you might say," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said earlier in a broadcast interview.

One of Kelly's biggest security headaches will be the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Living across the street from the UN can be "the scariest -- or the safest place to live," said Richard Larson, a 30-year Tudor City resident, who annually supplies his name to a tenants' list police use to identify neighborhood residents.

"Security is rigorous, more now than before 9/11," Larson said.

Newsday on social media


Robert Jereski, a 12-year Tudor City resident, called the police barricades and surveillance, along with Coast Guard patrols on the East River, "a lot of wasted money and the militarization of law enforcement. It's ludicrous."

In downtown Battery Park, a frozen zone keeps cars off the streets next to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where UN diplomats and their entourages stay. "It's difficult for my customers," said Irene Foglia, who manages Inatteso, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. With Maria Alvarez

The best of Newsday every day in your inbox. Get the Newsday Now newsletter!


Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: