Penn Station, an armed encampment all week, was bustling again with commuters. Regulars stood in line at their bagel-and-coffee shops. Police vanished from city blocks where they had been deployed by the dozen.

New Yorkers took back possession of the city on Friday, as thousands of Republicans left town after their four-day national convention.

"It's sort of like this whole part of town is waking up," said Mike MacDaniel, who was mailing a package at the mammoth post office across from Madison Square Garden, where the convention was held.

Although the post office was open during the convention -- part of it served as a media center -- MacDaniel said he had avoided it all week because the huge police presence made it nearly impossible to get there.

Life was quickly returning to normal. Well, almost normal: On Eighth Avenue, honking cabs replaced full-throated protesters. Fears of terrorism at the Garden receded, but the city remained on high alert.

Around the arena, concrete barriers and metal barricades were gathered by workers or hoisted with cranes onto trucks to be carried off. Some were left scattered on the streets, like convention ruins.

But perhaps the most noticeable change was the absence of the hundreds of police officers who had swarmed the streets, sometimes a dozen to a corner, during the convention.

About 10,000 police officers -- nearly a third of the 36,500-member New York police force -- had been assigned to the convention.

For businesses nearby, the convention ended none too soon.

While city officials have hailed the millions of dollars pouring into hotels and restaurants from the visiting Republicans, the near-lockdown of the neighborhood near the Garden strangled the small delis and other shops nearby.

"Thank God, hallelujah, it's over," said Teraza Sankovic, working behind the counter Friday at D'Aiuto, a pastry shop on Eighth Avenue a block from the Garden.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) said the city reaped a $255 million gain during the convention. The subway ran on time and crime in the city remained at record lows, he added.

"The main thing is that New York City showed that everything we talk about in terms of being open to everybody and letting people protest but enforcing the laws at the same time, we did," the mayor said on WABC-AM.

Still, there was a convention hangover to deal with: The matter of a judge's order that the city pay $1,000 for each convention protester held past 5 p.m. Thursday, when the judge ordered them immediately released. Bloomberg criticized the ruling and said it was unclear whether the city would appeal.

Protesters had also complained about the conditions at Pier 57, where hundreds of them were detained during the week awaiting processing.

"We didn't try to make this Club Med," Bloomberg said on WABC. "But it was safe and clean, and we even served soy sandwiches for the vegetarians."