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Midtown Manhattan Has a Pulse Again

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The familiar lunchtime sport is back at Bryant Park: Chair Stalker. Again, the afternoon crowd flocked to a 6-acre midtown oasis, and its 2,000 forest green chairs became a hot item.

“We are waiting for shipments from France,” said Dan Biederman, president of Bryant Park Corporation, who ordered 2,500 additional chairs this year to meet demand.

A few blocks away, Times Square is crowded with more than 330,000 pedestrians on busy days. This is close to 80% of pre-pandemic pedestrians.

And at Rockefeller Center, you’ll find new trendy bars, shops, and cafes lined up without a Christmas tree. Not to mention the weekly roller link with DJs.

Midtown in Manhattan isn’t as crowded as it was before Covid, but it’s starting to thrive again. Not even the virus that has revived in the last few weeks, Subway crime It has kept the crowd away from parks, squares and public spaces. The sidewalk is gridlocked. Lunch counters and happy hours are from elbow to elbow, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as office workers adapt to hybrid schedules.

When the virus conquered New York City in March 2020, the center of Manhattan was rapidly emptied. The office was closed and Broadway was dark. Tourists, commuters and cars disappeared, leaving behind a desolate cityscape that looks like a stage after all the actors have returned home.

Midtown has become a symbol of the city’s economic devastation. Later, as New York slowly recovered, the central business district appeared to be left behind as the neighborhoods of other less dependent areas of commuters and tourists recovered faster.

Even today, Midtown’s traditional office worker base has shrunk significantly as companies delay their plans to return to work, move to hybrid schedules, shrink offices, and move to cheaper locations. .. By mid-April, only 38% of Manhattan’s 1 million office workers were at work on regular working days. New York City PartnershipA major business group.

Still, there are signs that office life is returning more slowly than ever before. Last month, Margarita Building Resort Times Square, with its two popular rooftop bars, was the venue for over 30 corporate events, from happy hour to welcome back parties (including New York Times gatherings).

According to the non-profit organization Bryant Park Corporation, last month’s lunch spectators surged to 3,500 per day, reaching about 83% of 2019 levels. It offers salsa, swing, foxtrot parties, an expanded outdoor reading room, and a full lineup of summer movie nights.

Due to travel restrictions in the United States during the pandemic, the return of foreign tourists has been delayed. However, according to the city’s tourism promotion agency, NYC & Company, domestic tourists are rushing back, with approximately 48.4 million visitors expected this year and 53.1 million in 2019, 91. Equivalent to%.

According to STR, a global hospitality data and analytics firm, midtown hotel occupancy rose from 90% in the same period in 2019 to 78% in May.

Ron Napoli, an associate professor at the Jonathan M. Tissue Hospitality Center at New York University, said the influx of tourists and other visitors is slowly increasing, but the weather is warmer and more viruses. Tired people said they took off this spring. Their self-confidence, supported by the vaccine, decided to return to normal life.

“I think people are getting off the Covid coaster,” Naples said. “It was up and down, and you couldn’t plan. Now people are just getting on and off.”

Melissa Savage, a 40-year-old banker from Albany, New York, recently visited an American girl store near Rockefeller Center and rode a carousel in Bryant Park to celebrate her 9-year-old daughter’s birthday in the city. I did. “I feel full compared to Albany. There are more people,” she said. “I’m happy with that. It’s good to be out and around people.”

As Amtrak’s passenger numbers have recovered, the number of passengers getting on and off trains at Pennsylvania and Moynihan stations has surged to an average of 27,600 on the busiest days, as it was before the Pandemic. March 2020.

And then there’s the infamous Midtown traffic. It’s mostly back and crawling at 6mph. This is because some transit riders switched to driving during the pandemic and car ownership increased throughout the city.

Pedestrian traffic has also been restored. According to the Clothing District Alliance, weekly foot traffic increased to 3.5 million in mid-May, reaching about 77% of pre-pandemic levels. On sunny days, all seats in the district square are taken at lunch. The nightlife here will also open this month with Angel’s Share, a closed East Village Speakeasy. appear version.

At Times Square, Broadway shows are attracting theater enthusiasts, and costumed Ermos and Batman are clamoring for tourists for photos. Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, said nearly 81% of the 670 companies in the region have reopened.

Some restaurants in the area report being busier than ever. Carmine’s on West 44th Street has served 3,000 customers per day since April, compared to 2,700 customers in 2019. A group that also has a real barbecue in Virgil, another Times Square restaurant.

Further west, about 40,000 people visit the 2.5-acre 600-seat square that opened on a platform built on railroad tracks last year. This is part of a new multipurpose development, Manhattan West. Free art installation, Whimsical lemon gloveTable tennis games and Acrobat show, Is done there. A concert is coming this summer.

Many of the people who fill up Midtown’s public spaces these days aren’t tourists, but New Yorkers who have rediscovered their charm in the tranquility of a pandemic. The less crowded parks and squares provided a welcome rest from the cramped apartments and the opportunity to enjoy the city they loved.

A retired social worker, Corinne Workman, 71, began taking a bus from his home in Harlem to Bryant Park to meet friends in Brooklyn and Bronx. “I was in the cabin fever,” she recalled. “I need a tree. I need grass. I need to be able to see this.”

Jim Hammer, a costume designer living in Brooklyn Heights, began visiting Rockefeller Center on a regular basis, just as he did when he first moved to Rockefeller Center in the 1980s. But as the years went by, he said he was spending less time there because it was always a mob.

Tishman Speyer, a real estate company that owns and operates Rockefeller Center, has attempted updates, including converting the former post office into an art gallery. Flippers Roller Boogie Palace It was installed at the location of the ice skating rink returning in winter. Another new venue is Rough Trade, a record store relocated from Williamsburg, Brooklyn.Owned by a celebrity Pebble barOutpost with; The other halfOpened a tap room and an outdoor beer garden at a craft brewery in Brooklyn.

The changes at Rockefeller Center have recently attracted visitors like Elisa Annenberg, 18, a student at New York University in Brazil, who traveled around Rollerlink for the first time. “I will definitely be back,” she said. “I like the idea of ​​taking advantage of the space they have.”

However, some New Yorkers have expressed mixed feelings about the re-crowding of Midtown. “I feel a little overwhelmed. There are so many people,” said Rochel Pinder, a college administrator who was accustomed to choosing sidewalks and Bryant Park seats at lunch. Is (41 years old). He doesn’t have to stalk the chair. “Personally, I want a space that I can enjoy myself,” she said.

“But I think it’s good for New York City.”

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