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President Forgoes Customary Escort in NYC

Nov. 14, 1963 - Traveling without a motorcycle escort, President Kennedy got a commuter’s-eye view of New York rush-hour traffic this evening, stopping nine times for traffic lights, and called the trip “very good — very good.” No police siren sounded and no red light flashed as the President, riding in a black limousine behind an unmarked police car, covered the 12 miles between La Guardia Airport and his hotel in Manhattan in 28 minutes. By entering the city without the customary escort of 35 to 50 police motorcycles to clear the way, the President gave up about eight minutes of his own time and probably saved as much or more for thousands of homeward-bound New Yorkers. The police, however, were not enthusiastic. One high police official said the police and Secret Service men were “most uncomfortable.” They felt the President had been subject “to the most unnecessary risks,” the police official added. He noted that when the President’s car stopped for a light at Madison Avenue and 72nd Street, an amateur photographer stepped up to the side of the car and popped a flashlight close to the window. Secret Service men jumped out of an accompanying car and escorted the photographer to the curb. Deputy Mayor Edward F. Cavanagh Jr., who rode with the President, quoted him as saying he wanted to do without a motorcycle escort “because he knew it was the busiest time for traffic, and he didn’t want to inconvenience or endanger anyone.”


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