NEW YORK - The afternoon was gray and rainy in New York City, but the weather did nothing to slow the foot traffic in and out of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
As puddles formed on the sidewalks and streets Tuesday, a group of policemen with M4 rifles slung across their chests stood guard in their usual spot outside the front entrance. Directly across the street, in front of the Prada store, a few news crews were stationed at the curb for their live shots, as reporters waited out the rain under their umbrellas.
Concrete roadblocks and police barricades line the sidewalks around Trump Tower, part of the increased security since Donald Trump’s presidential election victory. The building at 725 Fifth Avenue remains open to the public, however, with reporters, tourists and ordinary New Yorkers watching the comings and going of Trump transition team members.
Poinsettias and selfies
Visitors must present their belongings for X-ray inspection before proceeding into the lobby sheathed in terracotta-colored marble. The grand interior is decked out with holiday-season decorations — giant wreaths on the walls, poinsettia plants brightening previously empty corners and a two-story-tall Christmas tree in the atrium.
Like most tourists love to do, Pim Couch and Susan Neighbors were seen snapping selfies. Visiting from Texas, they both remarked on the palpable energy of the building.
“Susan and I have been coming to New York for about 12 years now, and Trump Tower has always been one of my favorite places at Christmastime,” Couch said. “It’s always on our Christmas list.”
“There is more security, and I’m glad,” Neighbors added. “I like to go into places that I feel safe, and it looks like all of them are taking their job seriously.”
Directly across from the bank of elevators on the ground floor, behind a set of velvet ropes, was Hunter Walker, a White House pool reporter. Walker was stationed in the lobby to watch the action and pry information from transition team members about the Trump team’s activities.
A small group of reporters, producers and cameramen stood nearby, waiting for anyone willing to stop and speak with them, but not many paused for a chat.
“It’s like fishing. ... It’s a lot of hurry up and wait,” Walker said. “We sit here for long stretches where we don’t see anybody, but you can’t really lose focus, because you never know who’s going to walk through, and you need to be ready to identify them, jump up and start throwing questions, kind of at a moment’s notice.”
More often than not, it was the pool reporters themselves fielding questions from curious tourists — it was hard to miss their hefty video cameras set up on tripods, a jumble of electrical cables and other TV equipment.
The list of Trump Tower visitors this week included various U.S. senators, former CIA director David Petraeus and former vice president Dan Quayle.
By now, more than three weeks after the political upheaval resulting from Trump’s election victory, it was clear that the activity at Trump Tower, now beginning to be known as “White House North,” is not about to die down anytime soon.