NEW YORK (CNN) - Christo and Jeanne-Claude's free art display "The Gates" far surpassed expectations, attracting an estimated 4 million visitors to Central Park and generating $254 million for New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday.
Flanked by small business owners and local sales people who profited during the 16-day exhibition, Bloomberg touted the economic impact at Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Central Park South, one of the many whose business skyrocketed.
"The Gates may have been saffron," Bloomberg said, "but to a lot of New Yorkers, they really meant green."
More than 7,500 of the 16-foot-high gates were spread out over 23 miles of the park's paved paths.
February is a normally sluggish time for tourism in the city, but Bloomberg credited The Gates with drawing an unprecedented 1.5 million out-of-towners, including 300,000 from overseas.
He predicted the city would reel in $8 million in tax revenue "at virtually no cost" to the city.
The $21 million temporary work of art was funded by its creators, who donated $3 million to the Central Park Conservancy.
Midtown hotels had an 87 percent occupancy rate, about 10 percentage points higher than normal, while restaurants in the park's vicinity saw their business double on weekdays, and in some cases triple on the three weekends The Gates were up.
Broadway theater ticket sales increased by 17 percent, and museums saw jumps in attendance.
Even pushcart operators who normally make $100 on a cold February day earned as much as $1,000 a day during the saffron spectacle.
But, Bloomberg said, "the publicity was the real economic benefit. The Gates showed the world that New York is safe, open to all, and remains the cultural capital of the world."
The Gates were up when the International Olympic Committee visited to consider the city's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Workers began taking down The Gates Monday, but will need another two weeks to remove all the steel frames and saffron curtains.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude plan to recycle the materials, including 5,290 tons of steel, about two-thirds the amount used to build Paris' Eiffel Tower.