On Tuesday, I was downtown to cover the Landmarks Preservation Commission again when there was a fire drill at the Manhattan Municipal Building. But it was unlike any fire drill I had ever experienced.
First, they shut down the elevators and the alarm went off. The man in control of the public address system then told us to stay on our floors. Then our floor’s fire warden (wearing a high visibility vest) led us down the stairs (from the ninth floor in our case) out the back of the building, down Cardinal Hayes Place, across Pearl Street, down the alley, across Worth Street, and into Columbus Park.
Once in Columbus Park, we lined up by floor.
As you can see, this isn’t even in sight of the Municipal Building.
Eventually, we returned to the Municipal Building. The idea was that we would start heading back by floor, but it didn’t stay quite that organized. In the end, it took over an hour until I was back upstairs and I almost missed the item I had to cover. Members of the press don’t have building IDs.
So, here’s a top tip: If you’re a visitor at the Manhattan Municipal Building and the fire alarm goes off, when they evacuate you, don’t follow the heard into the park. Just make your way around in front of City Hall Park or by the Tweed Courthouse so you can be first on line when they re-open the building. Then you won’t miss anything.
– Evan Bindelglass