Thousands of faithful have converged on New York City to get a glimpse of Pope Francis during his historic visit to the Big Apple. With so much excitement, it may be hard for visitors and New Yorkers alike to navigate the streets of New York City while the pope is in town. But fear not! We’ve put together all you need to know about Pope Francis’ visit — from how to get around, to where to grab a bite before his big procession in Central Park, we’ve got you covered.
Related: CBSNewYork.com Pope coverage
With a jam-packed schedule, it’s probably safe to say Pope Francis won’t have time to stop at Shake Shack before he leaves town. The pope arrived in New York City on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 24 and leaves on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 26 — cramming a half-dozen appearances and events into less than two full days. Even by New York City standards, that is a busy schedule!
Thursday, Sept. 24
- 5 p.m.: Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
- 6:45 p.m.: Evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Friday, Sept. 25
- 8:30 a.m.: United Nations visit and address to United Nations General Assembly
- 11:30 a.m.: Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum at World Trade Center
- 4 p.m.: Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem
- 5 p.m.: Central Park Procession– Note: Entrance begins at 11 a.m. All ticketholders must be at their assigned gate no later than 3:30 p.m. See below for more information.
- 6 p.m.: Mass at Madison Square Garden
Saturday, Sept. 26
- 8:40 a.m.: Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport
Central Park Procession Information
Pope Francis’ procession through Central Park will take place on Friday, Sept. 25 on Central Park’s West Drive between 72nd and 60th streets. New York City and the Archdiocese of New York held a lottery system for ticket holders for this event. Those without tickets will not be allowed to enter the procession area.
A ticket and valid ID is required for entrance. Guests must enter via the assigned security gate that is listed on your ticket. Entry begins at 11 a.m. and guests must be at their assigned gate no later than 3:30 p.m. Officials are urging ticket holders to arrive early and plan enough time to get through security.
What you CAN bring:
- Water and a snack for personal consumption
- Personal camera
- Comfortable clothing and shoes for standing
- Stroller for babies or toddlers
What you CAN’T bring:
- Aerosol containers
- Animals other than service/guide animals
- Bicycles, scooters or skateboards
- Backpacks, coolers, or large bags
- Drones or other unmanned aircraft systems
- Flags, posters, balloons, or signs and supports for signs and placards
- Glass, thermal or metal containers
- Laser pointers
- Mace/pepper spray
- Musical instruments or amplified sound devices
- Selfie sticks
- Unlicensed vending of any kind
- Weapons, explosives, or ammunition of any kind
For more information, click here.
Mass At Madison Square Garden Information
Rounding out a full day of events in New York City, Pope Francis will hold Mass at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Although the event doesn’t start until 6 p.m., guests are being asked to arrive no later than 3:30 p.m. (entry begins at 2 p.m.). Considering the early arrival time, there will be a two-hour pre-event called “Journey of Faith” to keep the crowd entertained and excited for what’s to come. Confessions will also be heard before Mass
Concession stands will be open, offering a variety of food and drink options while you wait for Pope Francis’ arrival. Papal visit merchandise will also be sold prior to Mass.
Note: Following Mass, guests should expect to be held in the arena for about 30 minutes until Pope Francis has left MSG.
For more information, click here.
Security around New York City will be tight while the pope is in town. The NYPD has released a slew of street closures and warned of increased congestion while Pope Francis moves about the Big Apple on Thursday and Friday.
Generally, motorists can expect street closures on Thursday and Friday near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the United Nations, the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, Central Park and Madison Square Garden.
For a complete list of street closures, click here.
Officials are urging everyone to take advantage of mass transit whenever possible during the pope’s visit.
Mass Transit Additions And Service Changes
With thousands expected to attend Pope Francis’ historic Central Park procession and Mass at MSG, the MTA and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have ramped up service.
For a complete list of service changes, click here.
LIRR & Metro-North
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are offering additional trains on Friday for those heading into the city for these events.
MNR will operate three additional inbound trains, leaving Poughkeepsie on the Hudson Line at 10:37 a.m.; leaving Southeast on the Harlem Line at 10:08 a.m.; and leaving Fairfield Metro on the New Haven Line at 11:00 a.m.
Note: Some earlier trains will be combined and canceled to provide crews and equipment for those trains; Click here for more information on service changes.
LIRR will operate eight extra westbound trains into Penn Station on Friday, including three on the Babylon Branch leaving Babylon at 12:20 p.m., 12:43 p.m. and 1:20 p.m.; two on the Port Jefferson Branch leaving Huntington at 12:19 p.m. and 1:19 p.m.; one on the Port Jefferson Branch leaving Hicksville at 1:07 p.m.; and two on the Ronkonkoma Branch leaving Ronkonkoma at 12:40 p.m. and 1:40 p.m.
Note: For more information on service changes, click here.
Due to tight security for Pope Francis’ Mass at MSG, some entrances to Penn Station will be closed and others will be more crowded than normal. The LIRR entrance at 34th Street and the Amtrak entrance at 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue under the MSG marquee are expected to remain open.
Access to/from Penn Station will be most limited between 5 and 8:30 p.m.
For a list of items prohibited in Penn Station on Friday, Sept. 25, click here.
Note: The taxi stand on Seventh Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden will be relocated due to street closures.
New York City Subway Service
MTA officials said subway managers will be adjusting train operations as necessary based on conditions in stations near papal events. Additional customer service personnel will be on duty in subway stations near papal events to assist customers as they enter and leave the system.
Within Penn Station, normal subway access will be available and unrestricted.
New York City Bus Service
Due to significant road closures during the pope’s visit, the MTA has planned service changes to bus routes that operate near the locations of papal events. Those changes can be found at www.mta.info/nyct as they are finalized.
PATH Train Service
PATH will provide additional service on the Journal Square to 33rd Street and Hoboken to 33rd Street lines.
NJ TRANSIT Service
NJ TRANSIT will operate additional rail service during off-peak hours and enhance bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Special lines in Penn Station will be put in place to handle the crowds. For more information, click here.
Where To Eat Near Papal Events
The excitement of seeing Pope Francis in Central Park or of celebrating Mass with him at MSG can wipe you out if you don’t make sure to stop for some delicious grub along the way. Below are our picks for some great eats nearby.
Located in the middle of Central Park, The Loeb Boathouse is an iconic restaurant perfect to top off your papal experience in New York City. Almost every seat in the restaurant has a view across The Lake and is framed by the Central Park South skyline. Following the pope’s procession, dine on favorites like whole roasted branzino with preserved garlic, broccoli rabe, and lemon-oregano dressing or roasted cornish game hen with asparagus and black truffle risotto. Considering the multitudes of people who will be in the park, making a reservation is recommended.
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key to round out — or start — your visit to Central Park, try the Ballplayers’ House Refreshments. Located mid-park just north of the Heckscher Ballfields and just south of 65th Street Transverse, this eatery offers salads, sandwiches, burgers, and other ballpark-style snacks. The building was once the home of Central Park’s original Boys’ Ballplayer House where boys who played “base-ball” and cricket played on the 19th century ball field. This quaint cafe is a great option if you happen to forget your snack at home and are facing a long wait until the pope arrives.
Pizzerias are a dime a dozen in New York City, so you must have something really unique to stand out as a go-to destination just blocks from Madison Square Garden. According to its website, owner Jim Lahey puts “his own spin on pizza while celebrating artisanal food culture and communal dining.” And he does it well, combining Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pizza with toppings like veal meatballs, caramelized onions, béchamel and caramelized onion-walnut puree.
Don’t be fooled by the rough and rugged decor, The Breslin Bar is serving up some of the most delectable menu items near Madison Square Garden. Grab a seat at any one of their butcher paper-covered tables and enjoy roasted lamb shank braised in fresh tomatoes and citrus with grilled polenta or Maine lobster and corn with littleneck clams, mussels, linguica and pilsner corn broth.
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