New York City would not be the same city without the hotels that have stood tall through the decades. New York hotels are not just places to rent a room for a night. They are majestic, thriving cities within the city. They offer visitors, and the people living in New York, entertainment, fine dining, and memories of times past. One of the grand hotels that is synonymous with the city is closing for renovations after 86 years of service. The Waldorf Astoria has hosted kings, queens, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, and presidents for more than eight decades. But for the next three years, the Waldorf is out of service. No one will be able to book a room at the Waldorf. The hotel closed the doors on February 28, 2017, for a major facelift and room update. Many of the rooms will be apartments when the hotel opens again, according to an article published by cnn.com.
The Waldorf got new owners in 2014, and that group plans to turn most of the 1,400 rooms into upscale apartments. Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, and the Duke of Windsor are just some of the people that lived at the Waldorf through the years. The hotel has always been an exclusive address. Ronald Reagan visited on several occasions. American presidents stayed in the presidential suite, and Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., and other celebrities were headliners at the Waldorf Astoria’s Empire Club.
Usually, a hotel closing is not big news. Hotels close all the time for renovations, but the Waldorf Astoria is more than a hotel. The hotel is a functioning organ in the body of New York City. Waldorf lovers know what charm, sophistication, and excellence service really means. Anyone who has been a part of the hotel knows what functioning grandeur looks like.
The owners say the Waldorf will be a grander version of itself when it opens again. The China Ambang Insurance Group bought the hotel for $1.95 billion, and they are sinking millions more into the renovation project. It’s not every day an icon of New York closes, but the good news is the Waldorf closing is temporary.
Donald Trump is an icon in New York City. He lives in his gold building and overlooks his massive real estate empire. But now that he’s president, his presence in the city is not that appealing to visitors from other countries. In fact, his presence is not that appealing to people in this country. For the first time since 2010, New York City officials expect a drop in the number of people visiting from other countries. Trump’s rhetoric is scary, and his nationalistic attitude does not conform to the principles that the United States. America has always been a haven for immigrants around the world. Foreign visitors help fuel New York City’s economy, so less foreign visitors means less revenue, according to an article posted by the New York Times.
New York City’s tourism marketing agency will announce the new foreign visitor forecast soon, and according to city officials, the agency believes there will be 300,000 less foreign visitors spending money in New York City this year. There were 12.7 million foreign visitors in New York in 2016. The expected change in visitors will cost city businesses more than $600 million in lost sales. That number does not include the number of Americans who plan to stay away from the city because of Trump.
The issue is, Trump has changed the perception of America’s hospitality. New York is one of the pillars of that hospitality. Europeans start coming to the city in April, but this year Europeans are going elsewhere because they feel a sense of alienation from Trump. And most Americans feel it too.
New York is not the only city that will lose revenue thanks to Trump. The number of foreign visitors who do have visas and legitimate passports may fall by more than 6.8 million over the next two years, according to Tourism Economics. The president of Tourism Economics said his company is an international corporation that predicts travel trends in several American cities. Thousands of foreign travel plans don’t include American cities this year or next year. Online searches for hotels and airline tickets dropped sharply after the election and they continue to drop.
New York City visitors are well aware of the street people that seem to have no place to go for shelter. Homelessness has always been a political issue in America’s city that doesn’t sleep. Sinatra had a different meaning in mind when he sang the song, but the truth is, thousands of people living in New York City don’t have a place to live or sleep. Mayor Bill De Blasio promised he would fix the homeless issue, and now that he’s up for reelection, he is finally doing something about the problem. De Blasio recently announced he would open 90 more homeless shelters around the city because of the overcrowded conditions in the existing shelters, according to an article published by msn.com.
More than 62,000 people sleep in the “cluster sites” around the city every night. Most of those people are part of a family that stay in these unsafe and expensive sites. The number of people that need shelter in New York has doubled since 2002, and there seems to be no end in sight. The Democratic mayor knows he has to do something, or his days in office are numbered. He claims he will win the long battle against homelessness, but the odds of him succeeding at not great.
De Blasio’s plan is to open 20 new shelters in 2017, and 20 more in 2018. Then the city will open five shelters a year until there are 360 shelters in the city. The mayor also plans to expand thirty of the existing shelters. The current cluster sites will be replaced with decent shelters, according to the mayor. De Blasio’s goal is to reduce the number of people staying in shelters by 2,500 over the next five years.
The city’s Legal Aid Society thinks the mayor has good intentions, but his plan falls short. Homelessness is not just about shelters. Understanding why individuals are homeless and setting up programs that bring them back into the working class in some way is essential to reducing the number of people living on the street.
Heading into the 2016-17 NBA season, one of the most interesting stories in the league revolved around the New York Knicks. The Knicks had a very active offseason, which saw them trade for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls. The trade made the Knicks one of the hardest teams in the league to predict as they clearly have a lot of talent, but could be prone to injuries.
While the Knicks started off hot, including winning five games in a row at one point, they have seemed to have slowed down a lot. The Knicks are currently three spots and 2.5 games out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs and have had a lot of issues with both performance and locker room issues.
Over the past month, the Knicks have had to deal with off the court issues with both Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony. Prior to a game a couple weeks ago, the Knicks announced that Rose had not reported to the game. At first it was not clear where Rose was, but it was eventually revealed that he had returned home to Chicago to spend time with his family. Rose, who is nearing the end of his current contract, even stated that he was considering leaving the game entirely. Rose ultimately returned to the Knicks and has played well since coming back.
Anthony, who has been with the Knicks for several years, has continued to be one of the best players in the league and the top scorer on the Knicks. However, due to the continued losing, many have speculated that Anthony may accept a trade. Anthony has reportedly had several conversations with back office personnel and may be open to accepting a trade to a number of competing teams across the league.
While the Knicks have had some issues in recent weeks, they do appear to be turning things around. On Monday night, they had a game against the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers. The Knicks played a tough and strong game and ultimately were able to win the game by 6 points.
New Yorkers have a major concern right now, the growing cost of public transportation fares. There’s been some hard times for people who are barely able to pay their monthly rent and put food on the table, and in a place where using public transportation is very necessary to getting around, it adds in another cost to many families. Right now, the average cost for a metro card monthly pass is about $116, and added to the current base fare costs of buses, and toll tunnels and bridges that are increasing every two years, it’s no wonder advocacy groups are demanding changes to these costs.
The organization spearheading this transportation fare reform effort is Community Service Society of New York, led by David Jones. Jones is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider changes in the city’s annual budget that could address these rising costs. What this group is looking for is an income-based fare with rates that are adjusted for lower income families and individuals, while those who can afford the regular rates continue to do so. It’s actually not a new idea as some cities like Seattle are already using a similar program for their public transportation. But while it’s been a success in some cities, the size and cost of transportation infrastructure in New York presents a real challenge to this.
According to the Community Service society, they estimate that implementing this program would account for about $194 million in annual lost revenue, but believe that there are ways the city could compensate for that. However, even bringing this program about would cost a lot, and the city’s transportation commission has been struggling to garner revenue as it is. Other areas that are being looked at right now include City Ticket, a program that allows travelers discounts for metro rides if they put over $5.50 on their tickets, a cost that might get reduced. But also factoring into this is ongoing feuds between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo over sharing the burden of transportation costs between the city and the state.
At the beginning of 2016, when work began on the project to install cellular and wireless connectivity throughout the New York City subway system, the project was expected to take at least three years. Instead, both systems were ready as of January 9, 2017, nearly two full years ahead of the scheduled completion date in 2018. The Governor’s office announced the early completion this week, much to the pleased surprise of transit riders.
Cellular service was scheduled to be installed by the beginning of 2018, and Wi-Fi service had an anticipated completion date at the end of 2018. However, the state’s partnership with Transit Wireless has been incredibly fruitful so far. The company has already installed over $300 million in network infrastructure in the subway system. As part of the same goal to completely upgrade the subway system, Transit Wireless has worked with the city to install the 3,000 new Help Point emergency intercoms throughout subway transit stations.
Governor Cuomo pushed for an accelerated completion date on subway connectivity, and his insistence appears to have paid off. “As of Monday our customers can text or call from our underground stations staying in touch with their families, keeping up with work, and staying connected,” noted city transit president, Veronique Hakim.
Underground communication and connectivity have been among the largest concerns of transit customers. The newly installed infrastructure, supported by all four major cellular networks, is a major upgrade for the city transit system and demonstrates New York’s ability to raise the bar in both safety and convenience for those who live there.
The New York City Restaurant Week of Winter 2017 is fast approaching. Just Monday the complete list of participating restaurants was released to the public, and the 378 restaurants included are spread across the city. NYC & Company, the team that organizes the biannual food celebration, announced the list for the week of Jan. 23 – Feb. 10 of this year.
If the total number of participating restaurants isn’t enough, here are some fun Restaurant Week facts:
- 32 different cuisines will be offered throughout the city
- Some of the cuisines offered include Indian, Latin American and Asian Fusion
- Prices range from $29-$42
Restaurant Week is a great time for residents and tourists in New York City to try out new or higher-class food types and restaurants at affordable prices. Entrees and multiple-course meals that might normally cost hundreds are available at significant discounts. Lunch plates are only $29 and dinner courses are $42. Both are three-course meals at the same high-quality customers can expect at menu prices. Normal tips and taxes are still expected, and customers should check with the restaurant when booking, as some will participate in only lunch or only dinner offerings throughout the week.
Though walk-ins are welcome all week, NYC & Company recommends making reservations early. For serious foodies, that means immediately,, as reservations have just opened this week. Of course, there are no limits on how many reservations you can make, and customers are encouraged to try as many different restaurants as possible, or to stick with a couple favorites all week long.
The food truck and other mobile restaurant industry has been extremely popular in major cities across the United States. In cities like Chicago and Portland, thousands of people line up every day looking to get freshly made food from a non-stationary food vendor. While food vendors have increased dramatically in recent years, New York City is one city that has not increased its presence. While New York City has held out, a recent news article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/nyregion/new-york-city-may-double-number-of-food-vendors-permits.html?_r=0) has noted that this could change in the near future.
According to the article, the amount of permitted food vendors could more than double in the next few years. The city has previously set a cap of permitted food vendors in the city at just over 4,300, which is a significant amount less than is needed to properly serve the entire city. Since the amount of licenses available has remained so low, it has become next to impossible for some people to obtain a license necessary to operate legally.
Due to the restrictions on the amount of licenses available, many vendors in the city are working illegally with an official license or one that was obtained through the black market. For those that obtain one legally, a two-year license can cost less than $1,000. However, those that buy one through the black market will often pay more than $25,000 for an illegal assignment of the license. This not only is far more expensive, but greatly opens up the door for the possibility of fraud and other crimes.
While the city has feared that the food trucks could cause congestion in certain areas, they now appear poised to more than double that amount. This will pertain to any business that is looking to operate outside of a normal space, including hot dog and ice cream cart vendors. At this point, it is not yet known what the exact amount of licenses released will be, when they will be released, and what the cost will be. It is expected that there will be a huge demand for these licenses and food vendors will look to expand into New York.
Entering the 2016 NFL season there was a significant amount of promise and expectations for both of the New York professional sports teams. According to recent news articles (http://nypost.com/2016/10/10/the-tandem-that-inspired-giants-belief-is-hanging-by-a-thread/) and results of games so far this year, both teams are not living up to expectations. On Sunday, both of the teams lost and are continuing to look like they will have a hard time to reach the playoffs.
The New York Jets fell to an embarrassing 1 and 4 when they lost on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Steelers are considered one of the better teams in the league, the Jets never put up much of a fight. The Steelers ended up controlling the game from the start and won by a score of 31 to 13. Their most impressive player was their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for over 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. With their poor record, the Jets are now 3 games back of the New England Patriots, which recently got Tom Brady back from suspension.
While the Jets lost by quite a bit, the New York Giants fared a little bit better. The Giants were the focal point of the sports world during Sunday Night Football when they went on the road to play the Green Bay Packers. The Giants only lost by a touchdown, but looked sluggish the whole game. The team had a very hard time getting their offense together and clearly missed their starting running back.
Similar to the Jets, the Giants also fell to a 1 and 3 record. They are also struggling to keep pace with the division leading team, which in their case is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are probably the most surprising team in the league this year as they are led by a few different rookies, which have allowed the team to jump out to a quick lead on the rest of the division. Both the Giants and Jets will have chances to turn the season around in coming weeks, but they both need to act quickly.
Heading into the third week of the 2016 NFL Regular Season, the New York Giants and New York Jets seemed to be two of the most analyzed teams in the league. While this is partly due to the fact that they reside in New York City, it also had to do with the fact that they had many question marks and appeared to have the talent to reach the postseason. Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, the Jets were 1-1 and in second place in the division and the Giants were 2-0 and in first place of the NFC East. According to a recent news article (http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/nfl-week-3-picks-giants-redskins-will-be-tight-jets-win-outright-cowboys-lock-of-the-week-1.12354304), both the Jets and the Giants have a good chance to win their games and continue to track towards making the playoffs at the end of the season.
The Giants will be playing a tough home game this week against the Washington Redskins. The Redskins will enter the game with no wins and two losses, but are always a tough matchup for the Giants. The main focus on the game will be on the outside of the field as the Redskins’ Josh Norman will battle against wide receiver Odell Beckham Junior. Despite signing Norman to a huge contract earlier this year, the Redskins have not done well when it comes to stopping top receivers. Beckham, plus Victor Cruz, could prove to be too much for Washington.
While the Giants are at home, the Jets will be playing on the road in Kansas City. The Jets will visit the Chiefs, who also have a 1-1 record. The Chiefs were expected to compete for the division title this year, but have looked weak at times so far this year. The biggest problem that the Chiefs have had is finding stability on offense. They used to be led by leading running back Jamaal Charles, but he has missed the first two games and is expected to miss a third this week. The Jets will continue to be led offensively by several veteran players such as Matt Forte, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brandon Marshall.