At the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch day.

Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
By Lance Ulanoff2014-09-19 14:10:34 UTC

The thermometer read 54 degrees Fahrenheit on the street outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue Flagship Store in New York City, but gusting 21 mph winds made it feel much chiller. Not than anyone cared, of course — most certainly not the hundreds of people lined up to buy a brand new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus when the store opened at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Those in line were close to jumping the barricades they had been standing (or sleeping) behind for days — and even weeks — just to get close to the new iPhones. They didn’t move, though, knowing that their own new smartphones were just minutes away.


An iPhone 6 panorama of the crowds in front of the Apple Store on fifth Ave. in NYC.

Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff

The crowds snaked around a tightly woven set of barricades on one site of the glass cube store, but the line didn’t stop there. Customers started lining up behind a duplicate set outside the opposite side of the store; according to one source, officials thought this might be the biggest iPhone launch crowd since the very first iPhone arrived in 2007. But it was hard to tell; Apple tries to contain crowds to the large patio area surrounding the Fifth Avenue store.

People were bouncing on their feet to keep warm — or perhaps it was from the sheer excitement. The biggest iPhones ever seemed to have generated the super-sized enthusiasm.

Press-palooza outside the 5th Ave Apple Store. That’s @CarsonDaly doing his thing. #iphone6day

— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) September 19, 2014

A phalanx of photographers, videographers and reporters swarmed across from the soon-to-be owners. Some held up new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices that Apple execs had personally handled them — if only for a limited time.

One reporter said he was buying the iPhone 6 Plus — the 5.5-inch model — simply because he wanted something different.

Pretty typical scene at the Apple Store: Someone interviewing a giant Suschi Roll. #iphone6day

— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) September 19, 2014

Companies looking to ride Apple’s publicity coattails were weaving among the crowds. McDonalds (an Apple Pay partner) showed up with dozens of employees all dressed in the chain’s signature red color and handed out Apple pies and other snacks. Seamless and GrubHub were on hand, too, doling out mini bagels to Apple customers who probably hadn’t eaten in hours.


McDonalds workers hand out snacks at the iPhone 6 launch line.

Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff

As the minutes ticked down to the wire, groups of blue-shirt-sporting Apple employees worked overtime to amp themselves up; two groups lined up opposite one another, and then a single Apple employee would run through, yelling a rallying cry.

Fifteen minutes before the Apple Store officially opened, a number of grim-faced NYPD officers moved the media back and set up new barricades. The cops seemed tense, as though they didn’t like the size of crowds, and preferred smaller groups that they could more easily control.

Then the Apple blue-shirters began the countdown. When they reached zero, they quickly realized they had jumped the gun by 10 seconds and started over again. Finally, customers started streaming into the store, but within the barricades, some were moving too fast. Soon, people were getting squeezed and Apple employees quickly moved in to guide everyone safely through the lines.

As they raced into the store in droves of 20 or so, I snapped a few more photos and videos of the scene with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, then slipped them back into my pockets and fled the scene.

Bonus: A Close Look at the iPhone 6

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