In a downtown bar on Tuesday, one TV screen showed election coverage, the other clips of the best knockouts in Ultimate Fighting competition. The election of 2016 has been a cage match like no other in recent U.S. history, with New York City as the centre of the action.
Both candidates were based here: Donald Trump in Manhattan, Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua up the Hudson River, about 50 kilometres from the city. Mr. Trump launched his campaign at Trump Tower last year; Ms. Clinton launched hers at the city's Roosevelt Island.
Both were holding their election-night events in New York, only 40 minutes apart on foot. So it was no surprise that much of the anticipation, excitement, frustration and dread that has attached to this unusually bitter election seemed to focus on New York. Voters started lining up before sunrise to cast their ballots when polls opened at 6 a.m. The police were out in force around Manhattan, deploying sniffer dogs and keeping a heavy-weapons squad on alert.
Officials called their 5,000 officers the biggest election-security detail the police department has ever deployed. Many streets around the Clinton and Trump events in midtown were closed off, slowing traffic. Some voters complained about long lines and broken scanners, the machines that read voters' paper ballots. But, then New Yorkers are known for complaining about everything, loudly. The election campaign was so intense and so unpleasant that some were just relieved to get to the voting. "So glad to be done with this," one young man shouted walking out of a polling station. A local TV station played Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive in the background of its coverage. The tabloid New York Post ran a big headline, "VOTE: For the one you dislike least" over a photograph of a woman holding her nose. The Daily News, not shy about showing where it stands, ran "Stop the Don Con" over a cartoon of Mr. Trump crossing his fingers behind his back as he raised his hand to take the oath of office. "Today, send an unqualified liar home & steady Clinton to the White House."
Mr. Trump himself, dressed in a dark overcoat and a very long blue tie, waved to onlookers as he got out of his car to vote at a Manhattan public school, P.S. 59. Some onlookers shouted "Go Home," others cheered. Earlier, two topless women invaded the voting station, shouting "Out of our polls, Trump." Ms. Clinton voted at a school in Chappaqua, her husband, Bill, at her side.
Coming out of a voting station near the Brooklyn Bridge after casting his ballot, lawyer Andrew Ceraulo, 62, said the unruly, insult-filled campaign showed the city, and the country, in its worst light. "It was disgusting and repugnant from the start and a real black mark on New York City." He said he voted for Ms. Clinton reluctantly, as the lesser of evils. His daughter Pauline Okuda Ceraulo, 23, said the candidates seemed to spend the campaign shouting at each other. "I'm very disillusioned." Many people wore "I voted" stickers emblazoned with an image of the Statue of Liberty as they left balloting places. The Empire State Building lit up its spire in red, white and blue for election day. New York State has gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1984, when Ronald Reagan won.
Arie Wolf, 24, a web developer, said he had not followed the issues in detail, "I just know that Trump is a monster." No surprise, he voted for Ms. Clinton. One Brooklyn toy store staged a mock election for kids, the Daily News reported. "I'm a Democrat. The others are independents and Donald Trump is stupid," said Arlo Plattzolov, 8, placing his ballot into the box at Little Things store.