We’ve witnessed this scene before…the frenzied throngs of mostly young people greeting the arrival of the Beatles to the United States in 1964. The multitudes who lined the streets of New York City to get a glimpse of Charles Lindberg in 1927 or John Glenn in 1962, when they came to town following their historic trips, one across the Atlantic in a tiny airplane and one after orbiting the Earth in a capsule. We cheered the victorious soldiers such as General Douglas MacArthur or sports figures being celebrated for great achievements. Those public icons captured the passion and imagination of a nation. They were superstars of the highest order whose feats became legendary. Now comes Pope Francis with the same impassioned welcome…but why?
Pope Francis comes from humble beginnings in a small village in Argentina. Had he attempted to migrate to the United States as a young man, Donald Trump and others might have looked askance at yet another Latino trying to cross the border and somehow subvert America.
So what is it about this Pope that makes men, women and children crave a fleeting view and literally swoon at his sight? And to be clear, this magnetism is not only found amongst the Catholic faithful, it is interdenominational and it is a phenomenon. Pope Francis arrived in the United States last week to a tumultuous welcome by the great and the ordinary, by the nation’s highest leaders and by the homeless. By Catholics, Protestants, Jews and yes Muslims.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, pictured during a press conference in March (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Owners of small businesses in the East Village gathered on Tuesday at Jimmy’s No. 43 bar on East 7th Street for a roundtable discussion that was hosted by Borough President Gale Brewer on the challenges that businesses have been facing. Brewer has faced some criticism lately for not pushing for long-stalled legislation that would protect retailers from exorbitant rent increases, and business owners who were present at the roundtable on Tuesday expressed similar concerns. Owners at the event were enthusiastic about starting a discussion, but said they were frustrated by a range of issues, including endless paperwork from the city whenever they reach out for help.
“The bureaucracy is really hurting us,” one owner said. “When we have to deal with different city agencies, the people in the offices are nice, but there’s so much paperwork that things take forever to get done or don’t get done at all.”
Other businesses have still been struggling to recover from the explosion on Second Avenue this past March. Bernadette Nation, executive director of New York City’s Small Business Services emergency response team, worked in the neighborhood for more than a month and said that it was a struggle for a number of the storefronts near the explosion.
“I was in the city during September 11 but this explosion was a really daunting experience,” she said. “This one was really taxing on the body and the mind.”