Hordes of reporters, police and barriers greeted Donald Trump when he arrived at his Manhattan residence Monday - but only a small group of supporters.

Just before midday, authorities closed off Trump Tower to the public, as a heavy police presence and barricades surrounded the building situated on Fifth Avenue.

A tiny group of Trump supporters staged a demonstration that relied mostly on a large banner emblazoned with "Finish the Wall Trump 24," referring to the former president's bid to construct barriers on the US border with Mexico.

Video: AFP

Among them was Vito Dichiara, 71, who resides in nearby suburban Long Island and told AFP he formerly worked for the right-wing outlet Fox News.

He accused New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg of engaging in a political conspiracy to prevent Trump from retaking the White House next year, and repeated long-debunked claims that the Democratic Party stole the election from Trump when Joe Biden upset him in 2020.

"I'm here to support Donald Trump, the former president of the United States and the next president of the United States," he said.

A couple of anti-Trump demonstrators also turned out, including Marni Halasa, who dressed as a devil. 

Her red dress was covered with fake 100-dollar notes, she said to represent "the hush money" at the heart of the historic indictment against Trump over a payment to a porn actress.

But they were all outnumbered by journalists.

Despite the media excitement and small demonstrations, life went on in the city used to the gaze of outsiders.

Amid the towers adjacent to Manhattan's iconic Central Park, it was business as usual for the yellow taxis streaming by, as delivery cyclists and trucks skirted the hoopla.

A passerby smirked as he passed the crush of journalists who'd been at the ready for hours with cameras.

"It's the best show in town," he said before disappearing into the cityscape. "Even Shakespeare can't do that."

Trump is famously unpopular in Democratic-leaning New York, where he made his name as a brash real estate developer-turned reality TV star.

"It is kind of good to show that somebody isn't above the law, because Trump used to say he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it," 67-year-old retiree Nancy Andrews told AFP near Grand Central station.

"It's good to see that that mindset is being challenged," she added.

New Yorker Lea Sturley said: "I think the country is very divided at this point. So I think it's important that we understand that this is not about sides. It's about justice."

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