As Tampa and Charlotte prepare to host the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, respectively, during the next three weeks, New Yorkers will still be enjoying the economic and cultural benefits of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. New York City's hosting of that convention has never been equaled in its ongoing and sustainable promotion of the host city, because three events created to celebrate New York for the occasion continue to promote it annually after 20 years. Those three events are Restaurant Week, Fashion Week and Broadway on Broadway.
The Convention's hosting placed numerous logistical and technical requirements on New York. including making available Madison Square Garden and thousands of hotel rooms, providing additional space for the media and hosting welcoming events for more than 50 delegations. But it also gave New York an opportunity to take advantage of the global media presence and create captivating promotional events that would tell New York's story around the world.
The three events were designed to achieve that goal -- welcoming the delegates while generating worldwide media coverage. All three evolved from collaborations between New York '92, the nonpartisan public-private hosting entity created by the City and leaders of New York's restaurants, fashion houses and Broadway theaters. I was CEO of New York '92 at the time, having been appointed by Mayor David Dinkins in consultation with Robert E. Rubin, Chair of the New York '92 Host Committee, whose Executive Director, Leslie Marcus, was essential to the creation of all three events.
Restaurant Week emerged through the extraordinary efforts of Tim Zagat, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Zagat Survey. It started as a single week, in which many of New York's best-known restaurants offered a $19.92 prix fixe lunch, and it kicked off with one day on which representatives of each of the convention delegations were invited to have lunch at one of those restaurants with a prominent New Yorker.
Restaurant Week was such an immediate success that it was extended throughout the summer of 1992. It has continued every year thereafter and now takes place twice a year -- thanks to NYC & Company, its producer and American Express, its founding sponsor, as well as the participating restaurants. Restaurant Week 2012 ran from July 16th to August 10th, but fittingly an extension of it will continue through September 3rd, offering prix fixe meals ($24.07 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner).
Fashion Week got its start as "New York Is Fashion," the first time that New York City's major fashion houses gathered under one tent to show their creations. The enormous tent was pitched in Central Park and, with convention delegates as the in-house audience, the major houses showed their latest work -- with world-renowned designers and models all present. The event had been designed to elevate New York in its competition with Paris and Milan, and it created such a sensation that it evolved the following year into what is now Fashion Week: first known as "Seventh on Sixth", then as "Fashion Week" and now as "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week." Key to the success of "New York Is Fashion" was industry legend Fern Mallis, now an international fashion and design consultant, who was then Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and who subsequently ran every Fashion Week in New York until 2010. This fall's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will take place in New York from September 6th to 13th. It, too, now takes place twice a year.
Broadway on Broadway is a free outdoor concert held in Times Square, produced by The Broadway League and the Times Square Alliance, and featuring Broadway's biggest stars and latest musicals. The first Broadway on Broadway, held in July of 1992, attracted an audience of more than 50,000 people, including convention delegates. It has been held every year since (now in September), except for last year when a special event commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 took its place. Broadway on Broadway 2012 will be held on Sunday, September 9th, to kick off the new theater season.
Not only are these three now-iconic events continuing to provide cultural and promotional opportunities to New York, but they continue to boost its economy significantly. When the Democratic National Convention ended in 1992, the City estimated that its hosting of the event had generated more than $470 million in economic impact -- at a cost to the city of less than $21 million in public funds. Since then, these three events have together dwarfed that original estimate.
The semi-annual Fashion Week will generate, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a total economic impact this year of $865 million for the city. The semi-annual Restaurant Week now generates an estimated $12 million in annual revenue for participating restaurants from online reservations alone, according to NYC & Company. And while the economic impact of Broadway on Broadway is harder to quantify, it officially kicks off the new Broadway season each year, and the 2010-2011 season alone contributed $11.2 billion to the city's economy, according to The Broadway League.
New York's hosting of the 1992 Democratic National Convention -- and the promotional events that it created -- has generated billions of dollars for the city's economy over the past 20 years, and continues to do so. New Yorkers will still be benefiting, as Tampa and Charlotte take their turn.
The author is Chief Operating Officer of Goodman Media International, the New York City-based public relations firm.
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