Published as a comment in the March 2011 Atlantic Magazine, in response to “Inside the Secret Service” by Marc Ambinder.

Interesting subject, well written.

For a time, I worked at the Battery Maritime Building, on the southern tip of Manhattan. The fourth, and top, floor of this greenish structure had a balcony running the length of the building facing the waterfront, offering an excellent view of Brooklyn Heights and the Statue of Liberty. If you were to jump off the balcony, you would fall directly into the water.

Inside, the office space had windows and a door to the balcony. One day, two young men in suits and long coats approached me and said they were Secret Service. I asked them for IDs, which they respectfully displayed. They said the president was coming and they needed to look around. I showed them the door, and they stepped outside onto the narrow balcony. I showed them the door at the far end of the building.

They were particularly interested in the latter door. A short time later, two NYPD officers entered on the fourth floor, their sniper rifles in cases slung over their shoulders. They set up their post on the short balcony at the end of the BMB facing the heliport one hundred yard, or so, to the east on the waterfront.

Nothing was done to reinforce the windows, as described in the article. Someone had already placed signs on the inside warning us to stay from the windows for the duration of the visit. Police boats secured the harbor.

Soon we could hear the rotors of the two Marine helicopters coming into Manhattan from New Jersey. President Reagan was on one of them. The other was a decoy. The helicopters landed, and a short time later, while I was out on the street during lunch, I saw the motorcade swing up Whitehall Street, the Great Communicator smiling and waving inside the limousine, on his journey uptown..

By Hudson Owen.