Shortly before tuesday night fell he reigned in Manhattana confusing sensation, mixture of calm and anticipation.
The end of a process that had been long and tortuous was reached, only to start another. Some details made it possible to see clearly that the moment that was about to be lived was going to be strange. Traffic had started to decrease days before, while commercial and labor activity slowed down.
One of the nuances of the indefinable sense of unease that permeated the spirit of the city was fear, a fear directed in the first instance to protect the physical integrity of places and people.
Many buildings rushed to hire the services of private security companies, in order to safeguard residents in the event of situations of street violence, such as those that took place when demonstrations were called in favor of the movementBlack Lives Matter .
The memory of the riots and looting that took place then is still very present in the conscience of the citizens, who were not prepared to face what happened.
The most emblematic streets and avenues of Manhattan were taken by assault by uncontrolled groups that dedicated themselves to the destruction and looting of shop windows, especially luxury stores.
In order to avoid greater evils, the facades and windows of the shops were covered with immense wooden planks that followed portal after portal, giving an unusual appearance to the main arteries of the city.
It was the first change of relief in the configuration of the urban landscape. For several weeks, the chipboard remained standing, hiding the original look of the best-known establishments on Broadway, Madison, Park or Fifth Avenue..
After being covered in graffiti by local artists, the large wooden surfaces began to be dismantled weeks later, coinciding with the relief of gradually opening up the city after months of agonizing confinement.
The measures decreed by the mayor and the state governor aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus had taken effect, after New York had been the global epicenter of the pandemic. For public image purposes, the most spectacular transformation had to do with the fact that bars and restaurants were required to operate outdoors.
The face of New Yorkit changed for the second time, in a more drastic way. The planks that had covered facades and shop windows disappeared to give way to structures with a more festive sign.
On the sidewalks and on the side lanes of the roads that adjoined them, unique wooden constructions began to be erected that turned out to be more attractive spaces than the interior of the premises that they had to replace.
Around the tables, protected by awnings or umbrellas, stylized gas stoves were raised to cope with the arrival of the cold. New Yorkers rushed to flock to the unique venues made available to them.
With the approval of the municipal authorities, many streets were closed to traffic, for the comfort of pedestrians and cyclists. Ornate in infinitely different ways, the open-air bars and restaurants scattered throughout New York have established themselves as an indispensable component of the urban landscape.
Inevitably, on the eve of the elections, the boards destined to shield the exterior of shops and buildings returned, reproducing the strange ritual of the past months. An unusual circumstance was added to this new makeover: the spectacle of the queues.
Lately, four different ways of queuing have converged in New York. Against the background of unemployment that has reached wild heights as a result of the economic collapse caused by the covid-19Longer lines of homeless waited their turn to receive meals distributed by charities.
The second variety, present in numerous points distributed by all the neighborhoods of the city, were the gigantic queues of New Yorkers who came to get tests that would allow them to know if they were infected by the virus, provided in massive quantities for free by the authorities sanitary.
A third way of queuing, as recent as it is short-lived, and ultimately unjustified, was that of those who, faced with fear of altercations that could take place during election day and afterwards, lined up in front of supermarkets and grocery stores for fear of that there could be a shortage of food and basic items.
The fourth species of tail,electoral call . All those tentacles of disparate sign had the effect of weaving a network of invisible threads that became concrete in the sensation of strangeness that weighs on all of New York.
On bridges, tunnels and streets; on parks, rivers and avenues; Above the skyscrapers, docks and airports, the predominant feeling is that of a bleak emptiness.
A void that is not of a physical order, since the streets have been filled with people for a long time. It is a void that is difficult to qualify, but that is permeated with fear and uncertainty, panic and paranoia, the same that caused gun sales to skyrocket .
What weighs most on the city today is the shadow of what happened four years ago. Then as today, New York was firmly against the New Yorker who ended up being the occupant of the White House , to the surprise and frustration of the vast majority of his fellow citizens.
Last Tuesday, the possibility that something like this could happen again was an idea that was simply unbearable.
The strong police presence that throughout these years has been constantly maintained in front of the Midtown Tower that bears the surname of the current president of the nation, is a detail that sums up the anger felt by many New Yorkers, who congregated helplessly to protest there. On Tuesday, after the polls closed, another form of the void became palpable, an absence alien to New York’s character: silence.
Throughout the day, the clatter of police helicopter blades, omnipresent during the riots and demonstrations of recent months, had barely been heard. Nor were the sirens of patrol cars , ambulances or firefighters heard with the usual regularity .
The dreaded explosions of violence did not take place. The only ritual that was carried out with exemplary rigor, in the midst of an influx of voters unknown in the history of the city, was to go to the appointment with the polls.
New Yorkers are perfectly aware that on a national scale, the outcome of elections does not depend on them, that they are overwhelmingly clear on more than whom to vote, who to vote against.
The long night of uncertainty began shortly after the polling stations closed, when the first data from other states began to arrive. It was feared that something like this might happen, that there might not be conclusive results overnight.
Late in the morning and as the difference in votes between the two contenders became increasingly narrow, there was no choice but to surrender to the evidence. Impossible to know who had won.
Betraying one of the slogans that best defines its character, the city that never sleeps he retired to rest.