Every week The New York Times takes readers to interesting cities through its “36 Hours” travel feature. But Ann Arbor readers who picked up the Sunday edition this week found they were already there.
For its Travel section story last week, the Times highlighted Ann Arbor culture and profiled a variety of local restaurants, shops, museums and the unique college atmosphere that travelers can enjoy on a 36-hour trip.
The author of the article and a Times contributor, Jennifer Conlin, graduated from the University and lives in Ann Arbor.
“I think Ann Arbor is a fantastic place,” Conlin said in an interview the The Michigan Daily. “It’s such a great place to come and visit.”
Conlin also wrote a different “36 Hours in Ann Arbor” piece for the Times in 2002. She said one of the reasons the Times decided to update its travel coverage of Ann Arbor was because of the recent renovations to Michigan Stadium.
Though Conlin said she didn’t use her 2002 profile to guide the new article, there are several overlaps between the two pieces. Ann Arbor restaurants such as Zingerman’s, Dominick’s and Angelo’s were included in both articles. Events like the Farmers Market in Kerrytown and Football Saturdays also made each article, as did picturesque campus spots like the Diag and Law Quad.
Mary Kerr, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the article “is absolutely huge” and wrote in a separate e-mail interview that it has the potential to draw visitors to Ann Arbor and help boost the local economy.
“It gives us national publicity as a great place to visit and a great weekend destination,” Kerr said.
While the article didn’t turn Ann Arbor into a tourist hotspot overnight, the story has affected some of the businesses mentioned, including Angelo’s on Catherine Street.
“We had a few people mention it to us,” said Angelo’s owner Steve Vangelatos. “A lot of people read The New York Times. They notice it, and they mention it.”
Another business written about in the article, Mark’s Carts — an open-air collection of food carts located on West Washington Street that opened in May — has also been featured in other national publications including the Chicago Tribune which wrote about it last week. Despite the publicity of the courtyard, Marks Carts owner Mark Hodesh said the carts haven’t yet achieved a big student following.
“I don’t get the sense that people come in droves from campus, eat and go back,” Hodesh said.
Originally, Conlin wanted to include more attractions, but had to exclude some famous locales such as Blimpie Burger, Fleetwood Diner and the Blind Pig. Conlin said she hoped to say more about the city in the article, but “there’s only a certain amount of space.”
And with only 36 hours, Conlin said, “You’re actually supposed to come up with (a realistic) itinerary.”