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Hours before Francis' arrival, people gather outside residence where he will spend the night

Pope Francis speaks during evening prayers at St.

Pope Francis speaks during evening prayers at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Robert Deutsch

Pope Francis arrived at the residence of the papal nuncio on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue about 8:30 Thursday night, capping off a day when he brought even jaded members of Congress to their feet and throngs of people into pews at St. Patrick's Cathedral and onto the streets of Manhattan.

Hours earlier, area residents and tourists mingled near the residence of the papal nuncio on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, hoping to get a glimpse of Pope Francis on Thursday as media outlets staked positions and a police dog sniffed the grounds -- as well as journalists' bags of equipment -- in search of bombs.

But their hopes were dashed as police cleared onlookers from the street before the pope arrived to retire for the night.

The five-story townhouse that will host Pope Francis until Saturday sits on the south side of East 72nd Street, close to Madison Avenue. A white and yellow flag with the Vatican seal hangs in front of the structure whose second- and third-floor bay windows are mirrored.

The pontiff was whisked onto the fortified street -- packed with concrete barriers and a phalanx of officers -- hours after admirers had gathered to see the spot where he would walk, and the place where he would rest and refresh on the second full day of his first visit to the United States.

Lourdes Benavides of Astoria, Queens, was one of many onlookers who stopped by to take pictures Thursday afternoon.

"I wish I could stay here, but I can't," she said hours before the pope was due to arrive. "I'm just glad to be taking pictures."

Francis left Washington just after 4 p.m. after dazzling a full house of legislators and Supreme Court justices at a joint meeting of Congress -- the first such address by a pope.

His speech tackled issues on which lawmakers in the 114th Congress have hardened their positions along party lines: income equality, forms of discrimination, immigration and family life.

The pope's message, though, had a unifying effect that, for a moment, erased the differences on either side of the aisle, as he received thunderous applause from both Republicans and Democrats.

That's the effect that Julie Hamilton, 53, of Sydney, Australia, said the pope has had since he stepped on U.S. soil.

"This is amazing," Hamilton said, standing outside the residence in Manhattan. "We've been talking about what's going to be the legacy of the pope during this visit. We conclude it is a sense of hope."

Hamilton said that as outsiders, she and her husband see Americans as being polarized.

"For example, they are either Republicans or Democrats. Where is the gray area? The pope is the gray area," she said. "It's about tolerance and being prepared to consider other people's point of view. I think he does that."

For some Catholics like Brooklyn native Diana Rinaldo of Westport, Connecticut, the pope's arrival was a jolt of energy for a believer whose attendance at Mass has lapsed.

"The excitement is overwhelming," she said, adding that she and her daughter will see the pope during his address at Central Park. "I just think it's all good will. I can't really express how I feel because I'm overwhelmed."

The pope's first visit to the United States inspired Joan Agag of New Jersey, too.

"It's so fabulous to have a pope come to the city and share his views of the Catholic Church and the world," she said. "A lot of excitement."

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