Real Estate Weekly
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NYC successfully confronts greatest security challenge ever

By John Banks, president, REBNY

Last week’s first ever visit by Pope Francis to New York City will not be soon forgotten.

You don’t have to be a religious person to be moved by the pope’s uplifting message of hope, or thrilled by the spectacle of the city’s enthusiastic welcome.

New Yorkers and visitors alike gathered to attend an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and Mass at Madison Square Garden.

The world’s spotlight focused on his address to the United Nations General Assembly and thousands flocked to Central Park for a chance to see him up close.

Pope Fancis visit NYC at the same time the UN was meeting and
Pope Francis visit NYC at the same time 170 world leaders were in town for the UN meeting.

With all of this activity; there were predictions that the papal visit would wreak havoc on New York’s ability to function efficiently.

In retrospect, New York’s transit infrastructure and human resources proved to be more than capable to accommodate the momentous papal visit while keeping the wheels of the city turning.

I would like to draw special attention and offer congratulations to the NYPD for their attention to detail in handling the crowds, road closures and traffic direction.

The rest of the city’s transportation systems, including the MTA, also did an outstanding job in handling this period of particularly increased traffic on the roads and rails.

Professor Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service, along with his colleagues Sam Levy, Jorge Hernandez, Jeff Ferzoco, and Sarah M. Kaufman issued a report that found New York was well equipped to handle the additional activity.

The NYU team correctly predicted that Pope Francis’ visit would not have the same effects in New York as it had in Washington D.C or Philadelphia, where cars were towed and interstate highways were closed before the pope’s arrival.

“With the nation’s largest subway system and municipal police department, New York is accustomed to large-scale events and high profile visitors like the Dalai Lama, the President of the United States, and foreign leaders coming to the United Nations,” the report concluded.

NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton described the pope’s visit to the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly as “the greatest security challenge the department and the city have ever faced,” with 170 confirmed world leaders in the city.

Despite this, the city remained fully operational with only minor disruptions.

At a recent Association for a Better New York breakfast, Bratton recounted a staggering number of events that took place during the momentous month of September including the U.S. Open, the Major League Baseball’s Subway Series, among others.

New York’s performance during Pope Francis’ visit was a great success in many ways. In addition to being a historic event and an opportunity for millions of people to meet and listen to the leader of the Catholic faith, it was also a test of New York’s preparedness in handling increased traffic and heightened security challenges.

Our city passed this test with flying colors, and has proven once again that New York is not just an example for other cities to follow, but it is in fact the greatest city in the world.

In other REBNY News:
October 8 is REBNY’s next Secrets of Top Brokers and Industry Leaders seminar. Join us in the Mendik Education Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. to hear our panel of real estate experts examine and present current trends in real estate to enhance the professional knowledge of each attending agent. Registration is required, and more information can be found on, or by contacting Yesenia Dhanraj at

October 13 is the Residential Division’s next Breakfast Club Seminar in the Mendik Education Center. These seminars are an informative, interactive, and free way for participants to spend 90 minutes with dynamic residential colleagues who are known for a particular expertise. Registration is required. To find out more, visit or contact Yesenia Dhanraj at

REBNY’s New Member seminar, “Keys to Commercial Real Estate,” will take place on October 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Mendik Education Center. Moderated by James Nelson, vice chair at Cushman & Wakefield, the panel includes Randy Modell, William Montana, and Joanne Podell, who will welcome our new members in a free seminar for REBNY members only. To register, please login to

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