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Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
October 16, 2023
Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends

Big cities are starting to pick up again – and Manhattan is no exception. New York City’s population decline, which accelerated in the wake of COVID, has tapered off and rebounded – and the Big Apple’s office buildings are busier than they were last year. NYC tourism has also partially rebounded, with visits to local hotels about 90% of what they were in 2019. 

In addition to these indicators, analyzing visitation trends to Manhattan’s different neighborhoods can shed important light on the state of the island’s recovery. Are Americans once again flocking to the area, eager to enjoy the sights and sounds of the City That Never Sleeps? Which neighborhoods draw the most visits, and when are they busiest?

We dove into the data to find out – analyzing foot traffic patterns in some of Lower Manhattan’s most historic neighborhoods, including hotspots like Tribeca, Greenwich Village, and the Lower East Side. The analysis focused on visits by domestic non-resident visitors to geofenced points of interest (POIs), corresponding to each of the various areas and neighborhoods. 

Lower Manhattan Finds its Weekend Groove

Overall, Lower Manhattan (defined as the area south of 14th Street) has experienced greater visit recovery than the island as a whole. In Q3 2023, visits to this district were down just 15.1% compared to Q3 2019, while overall visits to Manhattan were down 22.5%. 

But breaking down the visitation gap by day of the week tells a very different story. On Mondays through Thursdays, Q3 2023 foot traffic in Lower Manhattan remained 21.1% below pre-COVID levels – not far off from the 26.1% visit gap experienced by Manhattan. But on Fridays, Lower Manhattan’s Yo4Y visit gap narrowed to 17.9%, while Manhattan as a whole experienced a visit gap of 21.1%. And by the weekend, Lower Manhattan’s year-over-four-year (Yo4Y) visit gap closed completely, leaving Manhattan in the dust. 

Saturday in the City

But where exactly are Saturday and Sunday visitors to Lower Manhattan going? Which neighborhoods are driving the area’s weekend recovery? 

Drilling down even deeper into the data for seven of Lower Manhattan’s most prominent neighborhoods shows that all of them saw more visit recovery on the weekends than during the work week in Q3 2023 – with significant differences between the neighborhoods. Tribeca, Chinatown, and the Financial District maintained significant Yo4Y visit gaps throughout the week (including over the weekend). But other neighborhoods – including the West Village, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, and the East Village – saw Yo4Y weekend visits exceed pre-pandemic levels. The Lower East Side and the East Village also saw an increase in Friday visits relative to pre-COVID.

A look at the breakdown of Q3 2023 daily foot traffic for these Lower Manhattan neighborhoods shows the distinct visit patterns that characterize each one. While Tribeca and the Financial District are busiest during the work week, visits to other neighborhoods peak on Saturdays. 

Key Takeaways

Manhattan, it has been said, is where the future comes to rehearse. And the weekend revival that has been taking root throughout some of the city’s most beloved neighborhoods may be a further indication that cities are here to stay. How will visitation trends to NYC gems like Tribeca continue to develop moving forward? 

Follow Placer.ai’s data-driven location intelligence analyses to find out. 

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