As I type this post, I hear the television in the background and the sound of the bells of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Pope Francis has arrived in New York City and it feels that the entire city has come out to greet him. There is so much excitement for this visit.
The fencing and police barricades at Central Park were already in place this afternoon.
There is also a lot of planning for this visit. One of my job responsibilities was working on city-wide special events and one of my most favorite events was being part of the transportation planning when Pope Benedict visited in 2008. I didn't meet the Pope or even come close to meeting him, but I was happy in a very small way to be able to make his visit go smoothly. I wasn't surprised to see the level of detail needed for this visit. I'm sure planning began the moment travel plans were announced, and they are massive, including the most mundane details.
Bus signage on Broadway. There's significant rerouting of buses and many streets will be closed.
This sign is on West 63rd St., outside of the Y where I exercise. I was there this afternoon and it wasn't 100% sure that it would be open tomorrow. People with tickets to stand in Central Park will access the Park on this street and others nearby.
The Y's instructions for tomorrow.
This sign concerns the most mundane, a change in the schedule of the Sanitation Department.
I am delighted to welcome Pope Francis to America and to my city. There will always be some who will say planning all of these details cost too much and there are more worthwhile things on which the city can spend its resources. But I stand in awe at this moment. The internet has been broken by one of the least glamorous persons imaginable. He is a seventy-eight year old man who is thoughtful, prayer-filled and well-educated. He brings a message of hope and the Golden Rule. May his visit be safe and fruitful.
Welcome to New York, Pope Francis.