Our inspiration comes from New York State's first-ever tourism campaign, "I NY." Evoking local pride through plainspoken visual language, the design was a resounding success, becoming one of the world's most recognized brands. The logo, sketched in the back of a taxi, is now in the Museum of Modern Art’s archives—and on T-shirts everywhere.
Forty years later, it's important to be reminded of what that effort was all about. Let’s take a look back at why we loved New York then—and why we love it today.
In the 1970s, NYC faced serious financial problems.
When City Hall sought federal relief, the Daily News paraphrased the president's response: "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
Reacting to massive layoffs, some NYC unions produced Welcome to Fear City, a mock visitor guide that painted the five boroughs as a crime-ridden wasteland. Tips included "Stay away from New York City if you possibly can."
Although a tumultuous period in NYC's history, it was also among its most culturally vibrant.
Bebop, abstract expressionism and the Beats had already flourished in New York. Punk, hip-hop and the elevation of street art were about to arrive. The City was far from dead.
These artistic movements were a reflection of NYC's incredibly diverse mix of cultures, the millions of people who lived and worked here. To them, "I NY" could be read as a rallying cry.
Today, New York is the world's creative capital.
The City is an unparalleled powerhouse of talent, originality and innovation. Sixty million people visit every year. Tourism supports 383,000 jobs and represents an annual $64.3 billion impact on the local economy. It helps fund our schools, parks, firefighters and so much more.
So what's the challenge?
Similar to the concerns of locals in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and other popular destinations, the challenge for many New Yorkers is hanging onto the vitality that comes from the five boroughs' contrasts and contradictions. Our local flavor must be preserved if we are to maintain NYC's unique culture.
New York City isn't a collection of movie sets and chain stores. The biggest threat our industry faces is homogenization.
How do we continue to thrive while retaining—and strengthening—the City's hustle and heart?
The answer is to look for travelers, the respectfully, insatiably curious—those who explore more, stay longer and leave a piece of their hearts behind. For them, NYC is the perfect destination: a city of constant change and eternal grit and glamour.
We want to inspire travelers to experience New York as it is, on the City's terms. To see the real five boroughs: our neighborhoods, small businesses and arts communities. NYC is a destination for every traveler who truly wants it.
That's why we're going to give local culture creators a platform to show their love for our city, to help maintain New York's vitality.
That means inviting filmmakers, photographers, writers, performers—and, ultimately, the 8.5 million ambassadors who call this town home—to tell the world all that is exceptional about NYC.
The dreamers, the doers, the never settlers—they all come to New York City in search of the same intangible thing.
It's world famous and one-of-a-kind original, here forever and never the same from day to day. Everybody wants a taste, but it’s better to stop and savor the whole thing.
Only then can you get to the true New York.