N.Y.C. was ‘glorious’ without tourists. That time is coming to an end.

N.Y.C. was ‘glorious’ without tourists. That time is coming to an end.

N.Y.C. was ‘glorious’ without tourists. That time is coming to an end.

N.Y.C. was ‘glorious’ without tourists. That time is coming to an end.

Last week, New York City tourism officials announced a $30 million ad campaign to lure tourists back. After a record of over 66 million visitors in 2019, the city envisions 36 million visitors this year and a return to prepandemic numbers by 2024, if not sooner.

That means an end to the all-too-brief window when, because of pandemic closures and travel restrictions, New York belonged to New Yorkers. Writer Adam Sternbergh reflects on the past year, during which New York City residents “got a chance to rediscover the city we long ago fell in love with but that many of us may have feared we’d lost to the unceasing waves of interlopers”:

First came a return to the outdoor attractions: a cautious trip to Coney Island in early summer, say, with only a few dozen stray people wandering the boardwalk’s vast expanse. The Bronx Zoo reopened last July, with timed tickets and reduced capacity, so, for a time, you could commune in relative privacy with rhinos and silverback gorillas, as though perambulating your own private nature preserve.

As fall approached, many of the city’s crown-jewel cultural attractions unshackled their massive doors. MoMA reopened on Aug. 27; the Met reopened two days later; and the American Museum of Natural History reopened two weeks after that.

Crowds were small and unintimidating. Traffic was often nonexistent. Tourists — the vast throng that typically jams these places by the tens of thousands — were nowhere to be seen.


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