Politics is not a spectator sport in New York City. It is a rough and tumble battle to the death sometimes with most of the town heavily invested on what’s going on in their city, their country, their world. It’s a noisy city by nature and by definition, with over eight million people packed in an area ideally designed for two million. It celebrates loudly, it mourns loudly and it even simply passes time loudly. Trucks and buses and cabs and sirens and laughter and screaming and banging are all part of a typical New York day, a cacophony of sounds from sunup to sundown and beyond. Which is why, when the city suddenly exploded with sound and fury on a level not heard in many years, it was obvious what had happened. Joe Biden had been elected president. More importantly, it meant Donald Trump had lost.
The relationship between Donald Trump and New York City had always been on a love/hate basis. He was born in Queens in 1946 to an obviously wealthy family. New Yorkers tend to be an aggressive lot to begin with and a flashy, aggressive, overachiever with lots of money and a book called “The Art of the Deal” fit right in with a large percentage of the population. His attempt to start a rival football league against the NFL ended in failure but it was seen as a noble failure, a shot at a giant industry few would have taken on in the first place. It was the kind of moxie that New Yorkers could appreciate. Others found warning signs almost from the very beginning. In 1981 he bought a fourteen story building facing Central Park and according to many immediately played hardball with the tenants who lived there, reportedly cutting heat and hot water and imposing tough building rules. A string of lawsuits contended Trump was unwilling to rent his apartments to low income people. There were the rumors of how he refused to pay people for the work they did, or paid them only partway. His buildings Trump Towers were gorgeous structures, inside and out, but they were also a constant, unmistakable reminder that there existed a sharp divide between rich and poor.
Worse, far worse, was the case of the Central Park Five. In 1989 a group of young men were accused of assaulting a raping a female jogger in Central Park. They admitted their guilt, although they later said they had been coerced into doing so. (DNA reports from years later showed they were innocent.) Donald Trump spent $85,000 to take out a full page ad asking to Bring Back The Death Penalty. This helped polarize the city and convinced many New Yorkers that Donald Trump did not have empathy with those less fortunate than himself. All of which is why, when he decided to run for President, New York turned their back on one of their own. In 2019 Trump returned the favor, leaving New York and becoming a full time Florida resident.
When news of Pennsylvania turning blue reached Manhattan their world erupted. People were cheering, they were banging tin cans, they were making noise with just about anything they could get their hands on and there’s a lot of raw material in New York. And when the roar had settled for a bit, it appeared as though a great sigh of relief enveloped the city….or at least most of it. One discontented Trump supporter shook his head mournfully and was heard saying “It’s the end of the world as we know it” to which another one sourly replied, “I bet they’re not cheering in a lot of other cities.” No doubt that was true, but they were certainly cheering in New York. In a final, perhaps ironic twist, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first speeches as president and vice president elect right in the heart of Times Square and the crowd ate them up. The Big Apple, called a ‘ghost town’ by Donald Trump just a few weeks earlier, showed up in record crowds to welcome his replacement.
All photos by Tony Sportiello unless otherwise specified.
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