It was pretty crazy. Michelle and I were walking up 42nd Street after taking a look at the UN Building when some police cars started circling the block at 2nd Avenue. We weren't too sure what was going on, but I did learn that the NYPD owned a tow truck (taking up the caboose of the lights and sirens parade). We were also aware fairly quickly that something unusual was happening, as traffic on the streets started to clear out and police officers started blocking intersections.
We hunkered down at 42nd and 3rd Ave, and no sooner had we made that decision that the Presidential motorcade came peeling in up 3rd Ave and stopped in front of the Gap store. There were a few black SUVs and two massive limos with flags crowning the front fenders and the Presidential Seal on the doors. The emblem on the grill was Cadillac, but these were not your typical DTS coachwork limousines.
The limos were just huge, sat high and boxy with big rubber. I couldn't make out what model they were supposed to be. I thought they would just modify a regular car, but after seeing these I did a little bit of research. Turns out these things are custom built by GM. They used to modify production cars, but they couldn't handle the extra weight of everything needed to keep the President safe and were constantly breaking down.
Here are some figures (most of the actual details are classified):
- Weighs an estimated 15,000lbs
- Gets about 3-4 MPG
- Costs over a $1M each
- Armour plating on the doors is 8 inches thick
If you want to read more about the presidential cars, here's a link to a fairly informative article from Autoweek.com.
Once the cars pulled up, the entourage whisked Obama into the Gap store. I found out later that he was there to promote the Gap's recent pledge to raise the minimum wage of their employees to $10/hour. Here's an article that documented his visit.
While he was in the shop I took a video of the goings on outside.
You can see from my vantage point that getting a good line of sight on the President was pretty difficult (probably a good thing from a safety perspective). However, you can get a pretty good look at all the cars and staff required to transport the president. As you can imagine, it's quite the spectacle.
We did manage to get a glimpse of him getting into the store and I was able to see him through the heavily tinted windows of his car as he waved to the crowed during his escape.
Afterwards we continued on with our day in a state of shock. What are the odds that the President would roll up to the same intersection as us at pretty much the exact same time? Well apparently the odds were 100% that day.