The US Presidential Elections: NY throws biggest party of the year

UP AND down Manhattan, the welcome mat is being laid out. Hoteliers are doubling their prices, muggers are sharpening their skills and demonstrators are plotting ambush tactics, as the city braces for the National Democratic Convention, the biggest and noisiest party of the year.

To ease the fears of the anxious delegates, many of whom have never been to New York before, a team of 700 volunteers will be renting out bulletproof vests at dollars 10 ( pounds 5.20) a day. With the National Guard on alert and ready to use light tanks and helicopters if disturbances get out of hand, and thousands of police patrolling Manhattan to keep demonstrators and criminals at bay, the authorities are doing everything to ensure that all goes smoothly.

In Washington Heights, a poor neighbourhood on the upper tip of Manhattan island and a part of the city that most residents only ever see on television, riot police will be keeping a careful watch to ensure that the violence which erupted this week does not occur again. Around five people are murdered in New York every night, but such incidents as the fatal stabbing of a tourist in a subway last year do great damage to the city's image. The authorities are keeping their fingers crossed that the 35,000 exuberant conventioneers will stay away from dangerous parts of the city.

The other concern is that protesters will try to wreck the convention. Homosexual groups such as Queer Nation and Act-Up are determined to bring the Aids issue to the forefront, while the anti- abortion activists of Operation Rescue are planning protests to publicise their cause. David Dinkins, the Mayor, has told Operation Rescue that its members will be locked up if they block the entrances to abortion clinics. 'New York is a pro-choice city,' he said.

Most delegates expect to spend more than dollars 1,000 each during the week. Besides going to Madison Square Garden to nominate Bill Clinton as their presidential candidate, the visitors will be whooping it up in 'Gotham' at parties, expensive restaurants and clubs.

New York wants to demonstrate that it isn't half as bad as the news reports suggest and that after years of inexorable decline it is springing back to life. Parks are blooming with newly planted flowers, prostitutes have been chased off the streets and the homeless who live winter and summer under the Madison Square Garden sports arena have been herded away to shelters and cheap hotels.

The image New York hopes to project next week is one of energy and excitement with just a hint of danger for out-of-towners who do not adapt to the streetwise ways of native New Yorkers. In a tongue- in-cheek guide to the city for delegates, New York magazine advises visitors not to speak English out loud because they will stick out as tourists. 'Get that look of polite affability and benign expectation off your face,' it counsels delegates wandering the streets.

A few months ago many New Yorkers doubted the wisdom of hosting the convention. The city seemed mired in a financial morass as it lost thousands of well- paid jobs on Wall Street. Drug- based crime was ruining neighbourhoods and tension between blacks, whites and Hispanics threatened to shatter Mr Dinkins' image of New York as a 'gorgeous mosaic' of different people.

Suddenly, however, there is a perception that the city is past the worst. Many of the big businesses that threatened to move out of the city have changed their plans, and expensive flats are changing hands at an unprecedented rate as people move up the property ladder. Broadway is thriving again after years of decline and the city is spending dollars 47bn to repair its crumbling bridges.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory