Making her way through the rabid crowd on Fifth Avenue, Patty Colon shook her head. She was just trying to get back to work at an investment firm’s office one avenue over.
Unfortunately, the quickest route was through Trump Tower.
The day before Election Day, the entrance to the Republican presidential candidate’s namesake skyscraper was mobbed with demonstrators, for and against his campaign.
A police officer sighed and shrugged. “All day every day,” he said.
Signs ranged from “Drain the Swamp” to “Trump: Dangerous, Not Helpful, Not Stable.”
Colon, 49, tried to squeeze past a pro-Trump partisan. Inside, she paused to consider the scene. It would only be worse on Election Day, she said. “It’s going to be a zoo.”
The zoo-like atmosphere will surely pervade the country, as our long national saga (hopefully) comes to an end. But it will be a tale of one city in particular in the political world as election results come in, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton holding parties in Manhattan, one train transfer away.
A tale of one city
The venues are indicative of the campaigns both candidates have run, and the prospects they could face Tuesday night.
Clinton will be at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a castle of glass on the Hudson River which has been taken over by the campaign.
It’s a particularly fitting structure for a candidate who made the glass-ceiling a central metaphor. Clinton’s victory speech during the Democratic primary was also delivered under a shatterable roof, in a Brooklyn Navy Yard greenhouse. But the Javits center is on a different scale, where even the walls are glass.
The center is also a jab at Clinton’s opponent, who had wanted the contract to develop the site in the 1970s himself. It did not become another Trump namesake. Instead, it is named after a former New York U.S. senator and liberal Republican — the likes of whom Clinton has experience working with, she might argue.
An early plan to launch fireworks on the Hudson River during her victory celebration was reportedly nixed, according to the NYPD. But other preparations for imminent victory continued apace. By Monday afternoon, dozens of news trucks lined 11th Avenue, and campaign employees, their credentials crisply swinging, moved swiftly from one section to another of the giant convention center.
Foreshadowing, but for what?
Whereas the Javits center evokes a futuristic, or at least modern, confidence, Trump’s choice of location was … the Midtown Hilton.
In case the name doesn’t give you all the information you need, the Hilton is a boxy concrete structure stuck squatly in the middle of Manhattan, the most prominent decorative feature on the outside being (Trumplike) the proprietor’s last name.
Inside, low ceilings and peach-colored walls are matched with gaudy lighting. On Monday, some convention rooms were occupied by the not very presidential 3rd Annual Technology Innovation Summit (“Semiconductors” in Concourse A).
Contract workers prepped the “Grand Ballroom,” where Washington Post reporters spotted a placeholder for Trump TV. An adjoining room, which the workers said was a VIP holding area, was full of lumpy gray couches and plump gold pillows, upon which to lean while the returns come in.
The mad dash to outfit the Hilton is necessary because Trump’s one-time go-to location — Trump Tower — may be off-limits. The atrium where he began his campaign, dramatically descending the escalator, is technically a public space, a concession granted by the developer in exchange for more floors. But private events are only allowed four times a year and with approval from the city. This summer, reports emerged that Trump may not have been going through the correct process. He’s found other locations since.
So while other areas of the city bustled with candidate business Monday, the atrium was nearly empty. The protesters railed outside, but inside, just the trickle of the indoor waterfall. The waterfall gave off a faint indoors-at-Disney-World smell. A small Ivanka Trump jewelry store was uninhabited, perhaps waiting the end of politicking.
Leaving the atrium, Patty Colon said she and other Latino employees at her firm refused to eat in the tower’s food court anymore.
She took another glance at the demonstrators outside. “I can’t believe people are eating this up,” she said of Trump’s candidacy.
In a picture of what the city will likely see for the rest of the day, the demonstrators continued chanting. Police officers watched carefully, passersby took pictures, and political signs shook and shouted, for at least one more night.