After showings of my 3-bedroom Pre-War condo listing in Carnegie Hill this afternoon, I enough time to walk to my next appointment, at 68th and Fifth.
Between President Obama’s visit to this area tonight and the Met Gala this evening, this typically quiet neighborhood was buzzing. As I took a leisurely stroll down Madison Avenue, I observed the scene. Police barricades and crowds lined the streets. There was a sense of anticipation for . . . something.
There was a heavy police presence on 87th Street and barricades closing off the block between 5th and Madison. It seemed likely that this was the President’s destination. Only a handful of people stopped to inquire what was happening.
As I approached 77th Street, I felt heightened sense of energy. A large crowd was gathered by The Mark hotel, between Madison and Fifth Avenues. There were two groups behind barricades on both sides of the hotel’s entrance. More people were clumped across the street. Some were poised and ready with iPhones. Others were armed with full paparazzi gear: heavy duty cameras and long zoom lenses.
I was curious.
I approached 2 women standing on the South side of the street, and asked:
“Who are you waiting to see?”
They look at each other and then at me, slightly embarrassed.
“We don’t know.”
I moved on to a guy with a professional camera and big zoom lens.
I repeated this process with a few more people.
Same question. Same answer.
A large crowd of people. Armed with cameras to take pictures of … who? THEY DID NOT KNOW.
Drivers pulled up in black SUVs. The crowd leaned in to see who was coming out. Behind the barricades, they jockeyed for the best angle. Doors opened and assistants exited the cars with garment bags and shopping bags. A man in a uniform controlled the crowd as the people snapped photos.
I stood there for a moment to take this in. Observing the onlookers.
There they stood: waiting for something to happen, for someone to arrive. They did not know what or who.
I couldn’t resist: I took pictures of them.
This is our culture.
As I continued on my way and turned to walk down Fifth Avenue, I was conflicted.
Part of me felt a little jealous. How nice for these people that they can stand around all afternoon waiting to see what happens. I’ve got to go make things happen.
And I felt sad too.
This is our culture.
We created this: This environment where crowds gather and wait for hours on a Monday afternoon to take pictures of assistants exiting black SUVs on the Upper East Side.
I hear a voice within me, and it is convinced that we can do better.