Photos: Take a Bite Out of The Big Apple

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  1. A full moon rises over the skyline of New York City, as seen across the Hudson River in Weehawken, N.J., on April 25, 2013. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Commuters move through the grand hall of Grand Central Terminal in New York City on Jan. 25, 2013. Since its grand beginnings in 1913, when it was dubbed the greatest railway terminal in the world with an $80 million price tag, Grand Central has been an integral part of New York City. (Brendan Mcdermid / REUTERS) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Revelers cheers under falling confetti at the stroke of midnight during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square on Jan. 1, 2014. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. One World Trade Center overlooks the wedge-shaped pavilion entrance of the National September 11 Museum, lower right, and the square outlines of the memorial waterfalls in New York. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after flying out in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians on June 13, 2011, at Yankee Stadium. Located in the South Bronx, the new stadium opened in 2009. (Jim Mcisaac / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Central Park was the first public park built in America. Its 843 acres include woodlands, lawns and water. Central Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a New York City Landmark in 1974. More than 25 million visitors enjoy Central Park each year. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Saint Patrick's Cathedral is the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the U.S. The cathedral's construction began in 1858, and it opened its doors in 1879. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Skaters glide around the rink at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink. The ice rink, open between October and April, has attracted more than 250,000 people a year since it first opened on Dec. 25, 1936. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Patrons line up outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem to see Amateur Night. Since 1934, Amateur Night at the Apollo has launched the careers of famous entertainers such as Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, and many others. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The South Pool at the National September 11 Memorial in New York City commemorates those who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center. (Justin Lane / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Pedestrians pass along a walkway under falling snow on the Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 3, 2014, in New York. One of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S., the Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The Statue of Liberty looms over a visitor as he uses binoculars to look out onto New York Harbor on Oct. 13, 2013, in New York. About 4 million people visit the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island each year. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Coney Island features entertainment parks, rides, an aquarium, a public beach, a boardwalk, fishing and Nathan's restaurant. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. New York City Subway dancer Marcus Walden aka "Mr Wiggles" performs acrobatic tricks on the subway while passengers watch Nov. 23, 2010. More than 4.3 million people ride the New York subway system every day. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the southern tip of two-mile-long Roosevelt Island - between Manhattan and Queens - was dedicated in 2012. (Paul Warchol / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York has been around since 1924 and includes large balloons, floats and performances. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Visitors view the Manhattan skyline from Rockefeller Center's "Top of the Rock" observation deck. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Pedestrians walk along a path on the High Line park on June 7, 2011, in New York City. The High Line was formerly an elevated railway 30 feet above the city's West Side that was built in 1934 for freight trains. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The moon rises at sunset behind New York's Empire State building, which opened in 1931. At 102 stories high, the Empire State Building is the fourth tallest skyscraper in America. (Gary Hershorn / REUTERS) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 4/7/2009 6:29:12 PM ET 2009-04-07T22:29:12

New York City officials are turning to gays and lesbians to help reduce a projected $4 billion budget deficit.

The nation’s largest city unveiled a marketing campaign Tuesday to attract more gay and lesbian tourists from around the country and the world as other U.S. cities compete to strip New York of its title of No. 1 vacation destination for gays and lesbians.

The Rainbow Pilgrimage campaign comes as state and city officials grapple with diminishing revenue resulting from the global economic meltdown, which is forcing many people to forgo leisure travel plans or take so-called staycations near home.

The campaign kickoff also comes months in advance of the June 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Manhattan, considered the start of the modern gay liberation movement.

“This is a tough time for New York City’s budget,” said openly gay City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who made the announcement with Council Member Rosie Mendez and city tourism officials. Quinn noted that 20 percent to 25 percent of the city’s revenue comes from Wall Street, which remains in turmoil.

An estimated 47 million people visited the city last year, a record high that generated $30 billion in spending, also a record over 2007’s $28.9 billion, according to the mayor’s office. Gays and lesbians accounted for about 10 percent of those figures.

But state officials are predicting a decline this year in the city’s tourism industry.

It's A Snap! Readers' best shotsThe new campaign will highlight New York’s reputation as a gay-friendly travel destination and tout a visit to the city as a “rite of passage.” The campaign will include advertising on niche Web sites and in magazines, as well as bus stop shelters, utility poles, street furniture, telephone kiosks and railroad stations.

The NYC & Company nonprofit that handles marketing and tourism for the city is working with Travelocity.com and numerous hotels, restaurants and Broadway theaters to offer discounts. George Fertitta, the organization’s chief executive, said the announcement was made months before the Stonewall anniversary in late June to give potential tourists time to make plans.

NYC & Company spent $190,000 in city taxpayer money on the campaign but estimates that, through partnerships with advertising agencies, its value reaches nearly $2 million.

Overall, New York City remains the top leisure and business travel destination for gays and lesbians followed closely by Las Vegas and San Francisco, said David Paisley, a senior projects manager at Community Marketing Inc., a tourism research company that specializes in gay and lesbian consumers.

“There’s increasing competition from cities who are reaching out to gays and lesbians,” Paisley said. “New York needs to respond or it’ll lose the No. 1 position.”

The annual economic impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers is about $70.3 billion in the United States, according to Community Marketing.

“It clearly is a market that has the flexibility to travel,” Fertitta said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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