New York hopes Rock'n'Roll museum annex will boost tourism

Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:43pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City is hoping an annex of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opening this year will boost tourism, as well as commemorate the artists and music venues that formed the city's rock history.

The annex to Cleveland-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is due to open in the art-and-fashion district of SoHo in November, and will feature such memorabilia as Bruce Springsteen's first car, a 1957 Chevy Convertible.

It will also house an original phone booth from the downtown music club CBGB where Patti Smith and Ramones played, and have interactive maps highlighting venues like Studio 54 and The Hotel Chelsea.

"There really isn't a more fitting spot for this museum than New York, the home town of Hall of Famers like the Velvet Underground, Paul Simon, and Blondie," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on Wednesday.

The museum could help boost tourism to the city, creating jobs in hotels, restaurants and theaters, and cushioning the impact of downturns on Wall Street, Bloomberg said.

A record 46 million visited New York in 2007, and the city's tourism organization NYC & Company is expecting around 47.7 million this year, despite a slowing economy.

Singer-songwriter and New York-native Billy Joel, also at the news conference, gave his endorsement.

"I started playing in clubs in New York City at the Gaslight Cafe, The Bitter End, Max's Kansas City, and then had the good fortune to go on and play the other venues in this city," he said, citing Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and large sports stadiums.

"New York gave me my words and my music, and rock and roll gave me a place for that music to live."

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

<p>Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation CEO Joel Peresman (L) and Singer Billy Joel attend a news conference to announce the soon to open Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum Annex in New York August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>