City officials already are calling it "Gorby-lock."
When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, come to town this week, they appear determined to get a tourist's-eye view of Manhattan. Gorbachev plans to visit Trump Tower, that glittering monument to unfettered capitalism. Soviet security agents have checked out the Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue for a possible presidential nosh. And Raisa Gorbachev is said to be eyeing a shopping spree at Macy's.The logistics of moving their 40-car, quarter-mile-long motorcade through crosstown traffic may prove as difficult as reducing the stock of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"It will be a week that will live in infamy in the minds of New York motorists," said Samuel Schwartz, first deputy transportation commissioner. "There are a huge number of events that will cause tremendous traffic jams."
New York City is well accustomed to chaotic events, having survived visits by Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II; ticker-tape parades for Charles Lindbergh, John Glenn and freed American hostages; subway strikes, bridge closings and assorted other calamities. But Gorbachev's three-day visit in the midst of the traffic-choked Christmas shopping season could severely test the city's famed resiliency.
Gorbachev's meeting Wednesday afternoon with President Reagan and President-elect George Bush is set for Governors Island in New York Harbor, and the Coast Guard plans to close part of the East River. The Coast Guard has only four boats on Governors Island, so reinforcements are being brought in from Long Island and New Jersey.
Gorbachev's tentative sightseeing itinerary includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where ordinary New Yorkers have been vying for tickets to a Degas exhibit.
Soviet officials also have explored possible stops at the World Trade Center, Central Park, the theater district and that nerve center of American capitalism, the New York Stock Exchange. "It would be a good opportunity for the financial community to meet him," said Richard Torrenzano, the exchange's vice president.
Police are predicting "massive tie-ups" each time the Gorbachev motorcade gets under way. "It will block a half-dozen cross streets at a minimum, close off some avenues and occasionally the FDR Drive," Schwartz said. "We're putting out gridlock alerts. Literally hundreds of traffic officers will be scurrying from site to site as the motorcade moves."
Secret Service spokesman Bill Corbett said: "Wherever he is, whatever he does, we just make sure it's a secure environment."
Gorbachev appears determined to meet a wide range of Americans. He plans to have dinner with developer Donald J. Trump, a private talk with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and a session with cultural leaders. Included is Rabbi Arthur Schneier, whose Park East Synagogue is across the street from the Soviet mission to the United Nations. The Gorbachevs are to stay at the mission.
Gorbachev's address to the United Nations on Wednesday morning has become a magnet for protesters, many of whom have been jockeying for position. One group representing residents of the Baltic states had to move its demonstration to another location after being told that Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the U.N. building had been reserved by an Afghan resistance group. An Afghan spokesman, however, said his group had been bumped from the site by Ukrainian protesters.
On Governors Island, 5,000 residents, including some schoolchildren, could find themselves stranded when officials halt ferry service, the island's only access to Manhattan. Officials also are wrestling with where to put hundreds of journalists, including a large delegation with the Soviets, and an untold number of limousines.
"It's a pretty crowded little island," Chief Warrant Officer John Hollis said. "It's a quiet little town most of the time, and there's going to be a lot of disruption."
Many of those expected to meet with Gorbachev have different matters on their minds.
Trump said he has "great respect" for the Soviet leader and would not try to change "opinions that have been formed over a lifetime" by lecturing him on the glories of capitalism. He said Gorbachev asked to see Trump Tower because "it's become the hottest building in New York. It's a phenomenon. . . . Perhaps he wants to see things that really do work."
Trump, who plans to show Gorbachev the building's glitzy atrium and, if time permits, his $19 million apartment, said the Soviets asked him last year to consider building a hotel of similar design in Moscow. He said the idea did not work out because "in the Soviet Union, you don't own anything. It's hard to conjure up spending hundreds of millions of dollars on something and not own it."
The agenda is more modest at the Carnegie Deli, where Artie, the manager, who declined to give his last name, was pondering what to serve Gorbachev. "What else but a pastrami sandwich, the thing we're famous for?" he said. "It's all European cooking anyway. Everything came from Russia and Poland."
For Rabbi Schneier, who has visited Moscow as a leader of an interfaith group on religious freedom, the visit is an opportunity to talk to Gorbachev about "religious perestroika," or restructuring, in the Soviet Union. While more needs to be done, he said, Gorbachev deserves credit "for facing up to the whole question of religious freedom for Soviet Jewry. Past leadership just denied it as non-existent."
Jerry Strober, spokesman for the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, whose group is planning a demonstration at the United Nations, was less sanguine.
Strober noted that, while the Soviets have allowed an increase in Jewish emigration from 1,000 in 1986 to 13,000 so far this year, 51,000 were permitted to leave in the peak year of 1979. He said his group also is concerned about "the reappearance of anti-Semitism" in the Soviet Union.
"Our basic message to Mr. Gorbachev is that we're looking for a systematic increase in emigration and a climate in which Jews can freely practice their religion and culture," Strober said. "Until we see that, we have to remain very cautious about progress under Mr. Gorbachev."
Heino Ainso, director of the United Baltic Appeal, said his group will demonstrate against what it views as "the continued occupation" of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as proposed changes in the Soviet constitution that would further limit home rule.
On Wednesday evening, Gorbachev is to be feted at a U.N. reception to which Mayor Edward I. Koch and other New York dignitaries have been invited. Koch said he has offered to show Gorbachev the city "warts and all. I'll take him to the poorest areas and the richest areas of town. Our slums are better than much of their housing."
On Thursday morning, Gorbachev is to stop at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for a tour of the first Soviet trade exhibition in the United States. The 60,000 square feet of display space will include caviar, furs, jewelry, refrigerators, machine tools, medical instruments and earth-moving equipment, according to spokeswoman Patty Ripterger.
After touring Trump Tower and other sightseeing attractions Thursday afternoon, Gorbachev is scheduled to meet with Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in what an aide described as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the test-ban treaty negotiated by President John F. Kennedy. The meeting is scheduled at the Soviet mission on East 67th Street, where an evening reception is planned for Gorbachev.
Police said they probably would close the mission block during Gorbachev's stay. That would be nothing new for the Upper East Side neighborhood, where the Soviets purchased the white-brick, 12-story building, which had been a luxury apartment tower, in the early 1960s.
Two city patrolmen are stationed permanently in blue command posts outside the mission, and a stack of wooden barricades stands ready at curbside.
"There are demonstrations here every Sunday, right on the corner," said Richard Ahee, a doorman across the street. "Sometimes they're Jewish groups; sometimes they're Armenians. People don't like it, but they have no choice but to get used to it."
Mission spokesman Yuriy Chizhik played down the weekly protests. "We've never had any problems here," he said. "They're never allowed close to the mission.