Billy Bulletin May 25 to June 1: U.S. Tourism Gets Trumped, Ottawa Runs and New York Trains
The Billy Bulletin appears every Thursday with news about travel and the cities we cover, to help our readers and passengers navigate the week ahead.
What’s happening across Billy-land this week? A chocolate pop-up, Trumped-up numbers, train updates and more …
Canada’s biggest annual running event, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, fills the country’s capital with the sound of millions of footfalls on Saturday and Sunday (May 27 and 28). The weekend of events includes not just the Ottawa Marathon (and Half Marathon), but also races for kids, something called a lumberjack challenge, and, in case you’ve been wondering what Roch Voisine has been up to lately, well, guess who’s performing.
Despite court rulings that have concluded Nutella is not wholesome enough to be marketed as a healthy breakfast for kids, millions of people love the Italian-made hazelnut-and-chocolate spread. As of Wednesday May 31 they’ll be able to make a pilgrimage to the new Nutella Café in the Millennium Park area of Chicago, where the space will “truly capture the essence of the Nutella brand,” as a representative for parent company Ferrero told Eater – and wouldn’t you know it, that essence manifests in the form of plenty of menu items more complicated and récherché than a smear of Nutella on bread.
From Thursday June 1 to the end of July, visitors to Toronto’s Financial District can grab a bite in the sunshine at the Adelaide Eats Food Market (formerly the Front Street something or other). For longtime workers in the area, the event shakes up the same old set of lunch options by offering up around a dozen vendors serving everything from tacos to Korean-style fried chicken. Sure, there are high-profile names including Momofuku and Wahlburgers on the list – but it seems a lot more Torontonian to try something from a stand offering jerk chicken, South Asian-style rotis or something else you don’t see at home, if home isn’t here.
Meanwhile, you ask: How about the nearby Union Summer Market? You know, the one that filled the forecourt at Union Station with so much bustle and mirth over the last two summers (enough that you might have even thought you’d ended up in a European city somehow)? Well, it won’t happen this year due to construction. Drat. However, the good news is that Union Station renovations are (supposedly) on track to wrap up next year. This month they’re finally covering that weird, pointless moat!
Speaking of train stations, Manhattan’s grim, subterranean and confusing Penn Station has a long journey ahead in its own revitalization. The Economist noted a series of recent derailments and other mishaps involved with Penn Station. Changes will come – eventually: A long-term, US$3 billion overhaul was announced last year, and in 2018 work will begin on streamlining the Newark International-to-Penn Station rail link. That will be a boon to frequent flyers to the airport, but again – eventually.
Adam McDowell / Billy
Meanwhile, New Yorkers and visitors have another new piece of transit to ride. Having opened in January, the Second Avenue Subway has been popular enough to really jam the cars full, and, as TimeOut complained: “There are four spotless new stations with amazing artwork, yes, but anyone who’s ridden it knows that it’s common to see 20 minutes go by between trains.” The MTA is adding more trains to the route to compensate.
Also in New York, Amazon is – sort of ironically – doing its part for the analog counter-revolution by opening its newest brick-and-mortar stores at Columbus Circle (officially opening Thursday, May 25). Is there a point to heading to a physical store to buy a book from a digital retailer? Perhaps not. Quartz is as damning in its assessment as an Amazon commenter with an axe to grind: “The cashless Columbus Circle store is founded on Amazon’s belief that people will want to discover (and buy) books that are rated highly on Amazon.com …The upshot is that, while the physical store succeeds as an ad for a Prime membership, it fails to be joyful, or even effective, as a bookstore.”
There’s more evidence for the existence of the so-called “Trump slump” – that is, the phenomenon whereby foreign visitors (business travellers and tourists alike) may be shunning the United States because of who is president. According to data collected by Foursquare and released this week, fewer non-residents appear to be visiting the United States since last fall – the location sharing service believes the number of visitors to have sunk about 6%, year over year. The upshot, according to Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck: “This means that the drop in international tourism to the U.S. is resulting in an opportunity cost of about 1.2% in total visits to U.S. shops, restaurants, attractions and the like … it could mean an additional 1–2% [year-over-year] sales hit to U.S. retailers already operating on thin margin.”