Things did not look up when my neighborhood was inundated with signs proclaiming "NO PARKING" for days leading up to the event and "NO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC WHATSOEVER" on the day of. Basically, my street, as well as about twenty others that abut Central Park West, were on lock-down on the day of the Pope's visit - no deliveries, no taxis, and no admittance without proof of residence.
Central Park West was completely shut down to traffic and we were not allowed to stand in the emergency lanes set up on the street. Rather, we were ushered by a very nice policewoman to stand back closer to the sidewalk, next to a sanitation truck filled with sand to make an impenetrable barricade should an armed tank roll toward the Papal convoy.
There were probably more fire and police personnel than onlookers but one police officer became an informal emcee! He kept his walkie talkie on so we could all hear the police transmissions and knew where the motorcade was, he shooed away latecomers who tried to impede our precious view and when the moment arrived he allowed us to move forward into the safety zone so we could have a better look.
It was a moment in history that I am very happy not to have missed. The anticipation of his appearance, the palpable joy of the faithful waiting for a glimpse of their leader and the pride of living in a city where something like this is possible were like electricity in the air. For a brief moment we were all joined as one and we were all the richer for the experience.