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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?