Sick of me yet? Today’s New York Value is about a group of people showing up in droves as the weather gets warm: tourists!
Tourists are different from visitors in that visitors have come to see friends, family, or the city they once called home. Tourists head to New York to see the sights, whichever sights those may be. There are the countless historical monuments and buildings, Ellis Island, the museums, Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Center…a lot of places I know as subway stops are also stops on a tourist’s city route.
I grew up coming to NYC as both a visitor and a tourist. Two of my uncles were living in Downtown Manhattan, but I also went on multiple school and choir trips that involved going to all the most basic, typical tourist sights. I’m grateful that this two-pronged approach showed me a lot of this amazing city, and that I don't have to wait in those lines now, because #beentheredonethat!
I’d argue that while bending over backward too far to encourage tourism is a problem (looking at you, Bloomberg), tourists do support a lot of businesses here and help fuel NYC’s economy. I’d also argue that New Yorkers are actually way nicer to tourists than given credit for! Yes, I have rolled my eyes at the people stopped on the sidewalk with their selfie stick out, or their necks craned as they squint up at the Empire State Building, but I don’t do or say anything rude. We’ve all given people directions, helped carry a bag or two, sat pointedly between a sweet older couple and the aggressive drunk guy on the AM train (just me?), basically the same way we treat one another is how we treat tourists.
Real Estate Value? Pied-a-terres.
Pied-a-terre, or “foot on the ground” in French, is the name for a small apartment, house, or room kept for occasional use. It’s basically a vacation property or the opposite, a place used only during the work week, and it’s generally associated with wealthy individuals. While most tourists stay in hotels or Airbnb’s, it would be nice to have your own home-away-from-home to stay in (although I guess that would make them visitors)!
The word comes up in NYC sales listings, either as a recommendation (This would be an ideal pied-a-terre) or a limitation (No pied-a-terres allowed). As a recommendation it’s often placed on small apartments/studios in luxury buildings, or I heard of one spot where the bathroom was across the hall, meaning it wouldn’t really be suitable for all-the-time habitation. As a restriction, it’s usually in co-ops that want the building to be all owners’ primary residence.
I linked to an article in my first monthly newsletter (which you should sign up for here) about how NYC could consider down on pied-a-terre purchases. The recommendation may only wind up on certain types of listings, but apartments of all sizes around the city are being used as second, third, or seventh homes for the fabulously wealthy. The debate centers around the scarcity of housing for those actually living here, as well as the owners of these properties not paying NYC income taxes, as they don’t work here, but still using the city’s resources (i.e. police, fire, roadways, etc.). I’m not going to delve in further right now, but if you’re interested, you can read more here.
As always, thanks for reading, and smile at a tourist for me today!