PUBLIC WALKING TOURS NYC - SUMMER 2021

Just show up and discover treasures in every NYC neighborhood on any one of these guided walking tours. Bring a friend and share the fun of a sightseeing-storytelling adventure.

Check the status of your subway, see web.mta.info/weekender for changes and closed stations.
 
» Gift certificates available for public or private tours

Joyce Gold with a walking tour group
  • Joyce Gold leads all public walking tours
  • Tour duration is noted next to each tour listing
  • No reservations are needed
  • Fee is still $25 per person; $20 for seniors 62+

"Of course everyone on my tours wears a mask."

» Summer 2021 Public Tour Schedule available for viewing and pdf download

5th Ave Mansions Manhattan

May 30   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

FIFTH AVENUE GOLD COAST

MEET: The Frick Collection, 1 E. 70th St. between Fifth &Madison Aves.

The creation of Central Park in the 1870s destined Fifth Avenue — the park’s eastern border — to become one of New York’s most elegant addresses. Great historic mansions, including those of Henry Clay Frick and James B. Duke, began to line the avenue. Much of the wealth that created this Gold Coast was earned rather than inherited.
 
Highlights include
•  The American Dream and its dark side
•  American tycoons with aristocratic yearnings
•  Grandiose homes and what happened to them
•  Landmarked district 1 mile long

Historic photograph of Schwab House.

** NEW **

June 5   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

FAR WEST 70s AND ITS CONTRASTING IMAGES

MEET: Starbucks, west side of Bway, btw W 70 & 71 St

The far West 70s of the Upper West Side long exhibited a pull between opposing identities.
• It sported imposing mansions, many of which were later converted into rooming houses.
• It offered beautiful Hudson River vistas, which vied with saloons, coal yards, & smoke from steam railroads along the river.
• A statue of Eleanor Roosevelt graces Riverside Park 1 ½ miles from where her alcoholic father died.
• The center of America’s drug addiction in the 1970’s bumped up against apartments of America’s cultural icons.
• Developers changed street names to raise the neighborhood image, but impressive real estate was rejected for being on the “wrong side of Central Park”.
 
Highlights include a statue built to inspire young Italian-Americans, residences by some of New York’s most illustrious architects, and a neighborhood that has taken hold of its identity to be a much sought-after residential enclave.

Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY street view.

** NEW **

June 13   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN – FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN PROSPERITY

MEET: In Brooklyn, 4th Ave. & Atlantic Ave., at the 4th Ave. side of P.C. Richards; Subways: B, Q, 2, 3, 4, 5, LIRR lines to Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center station.

Fort Greene is renown for a number of institutions:
   The Brooklyn Academy of Music for its cultural presentations,
   The Williamburg Bank for its tall prominence,
   Fort Greene Park for its Prison Ships Martyrs’ Monument,
   It is adjacent to Barclays Center, famous for its basketball teams the New York Nets and the NY Liberty.
 
But its African-American history is one of the neighborhood’s most intriguing aspects.
—  The first Free Black school in Bklyn began in Fort Greene in 1847.
—  In the early 19th century the area attracted African-American shipbuilders working in the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard.
—  Abolition and Underground Railroad activity was strong before the Civil War.
—  Over 40% of its population today is African-American.
 
Highlights include:
•  Mid-19th century beautiful streetscapes.
•  Brooklyn Tech High School.
•  Spike Lee and his film production company 40 Acres and a Mule.

Historic illustration of old new york-Five Points

June 19   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

GANGS OF NEW YORK AND THE BLOODY FIVE POINTS

MEET: The Bowery & Bayard St. (1 block south of Canal St.) northwest corner at Bank of America.

Just east of today's City Hall and Municipal Building, this was once a foul-smelling, disease-ridden district. Brought to life in the movie Gangs of New York, it was a place of violence, gang wars, poverty, and corruption. The district evokes such places of notoriety as Paradise Square, Cow Bay, Bottle Alley, and such gangs as the Roach Guards, Plug Uglies, Shirt Tails, and Dead Rabbits.
 
Highlights include:
•  Five Points visitors — Davy Crockett, Charles Dickens, and Abraham Lincoln
•  A Five Points success story - Al Smith - Tammany Hall protégé, state governor, presidential candidate
•  The oldest Jewish graveyard in North America
•  The Roman Catholic church with Anglican, Cuban, Irish, Italian, Chinese, and Buddhist history

Harlem Cotton club marquee

June 27   SUNDAY   1 to 3:30 PM

HARLEM HISTORY WALK

MEET: City College, 138th St. & Amsterdam Ave. Subway: #1 train to 137th St. station; walk to 138th St., then 1 block up the 138th St. hill.

In the 1880s, the new elevated railroad converted Harlem from a rural district into tracts of beautiful homes for wealthy New Yorkers. By the 1920s, downtown development and the new subway changed the neighborhood into one of the nation's most famous African-American communities.
 
Highlights of the tour include:
•  Sites of the artistic and literary Harlem Renaissance
•  Alexander Hamilton's last home
•  Strivers Row, Sugar Hill, and Hamilton Heights
•  Abyssinian Baptist Church
•  One of world's greatest collections dedicated to the study of black culture

Washington Square Park with chess players

July 10   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE FLAMBOYANT AND THE BOHEMIAN — GREENWICH VILLAGE AND HOW IT BECAME FAMOUS

MEET: Washington Sq. Arch, Fifth Ave. 1 block south of 8th St.

In its earliest years Greenwich Village was a refuge from the yellow fever epidemic downtown. By the early 20th century, the Village had become home to artists, writers, and playwrights looking for an unconventional environment and creative freedom. Protesters came here in their struggles for the vote for women, better working conditions, opposition to war, and gay and feminist rights.
 
Highlights include:
•  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the labor movement
•  Literary figures — Henry James, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Willa Cather, Eugene O'Neill
•  19th century residential architecture as a social document
•  Coffeehouses of the Beat Generation
•  The Minetta trout stream and street design
•  Landmarking and preservation controversies

Madison Square Garden in the Rose Hill section of NoMad.

** NEW **

July 18   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE ROSE HILL SECTION OF NOMAD — NOW WHERE’S THAT?

MEET: Redbury Hotel, 29 E. 29th St.

Rose Hill once held homes of old moneyed New Yorkers, but also included a safe house of the Underground Railroad. It was once the site of a snooty church, but just around the corner frequent assignations and colorful goings-on were part of that 1890s scene. Today you can see whole streets of stately Beaux-Arts buildings and a structure once tallest in the world. The dense vegetation of its beautiful park shields quiet space for art installations, children’s play, and a popular outdoor eatery.
 
Highlights include:
• Winston Churchill’s Iroquois ancestor
• The Southerner who became a hero of the Yankee cause in the Civil War
• A noisy gravesite
• Where Madonna got her start
• The Crime of the Century
• The announcement at dawn, “You are now the President of the United States”

illustration Civil War soldiers in Manhattan

July 24   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR IN MANHATTAN

MEET: Cooper Union, at the south end of the brown Foundation Building (7 E. 7th St., btw 3rd & 4th Aves). Subways: #6, N, or R to 8th St./Astor Place.

As the inevitability of the Civil War increased, New York faced conflicts within its varied population. Family connections with the South brought personal strife for some. Business interests dreaded the potential loss of Southern markets for finished goods. Ever-present ethnic and class tensions increased.
 
Once war was declared, New York officially supported the Northern cause. But as the war dragged on, ethnic and class tensions escalated between the Irish and Blacks, and the poor and the governing class. Groups actively engaged with the war included shipbuilders, manufacturers, newspaper publishers, humanitarian philanthropists, and soldiers returning from battles.
 
Highlights include:
• Abraham Lincoln, the candidate and president
• Horace Greeley, the abolitionist editor
• A Confederate plot to burn down New York
• The Draft and Draft Riots
The Monitor and New York shipbuilding
• General Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Farragut  

Gramercy Park gardens

August 1   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE GENIUS AND ELEGANCE OF GRAMERCY PARK

MEET: Gramercy Park, Lexington Ave. & 21st St. 

Discover a London Square that became home to creative minds, elegant salons, and the taste-setting Lady Mendl. Samuel Ruggles, lawyer, developer, and urban design visionary, purchased a piece of marshland in 1831 in order to create a park for local citizens. Over the next several decades, a private London square emerged, surrounded by substantial homes. This landmarked district became home to some of America's greatest inventors, architects, actors, doctors, diarists, publishers, writers, painters, and losing and winning presidential candidates.
 
Highlights include:
•  Manhattan's only private park
•  The National Arts Club
•  The Players Club
•  The Salon of Elizabeth Marbury and Elsie de Wolfe
•  O. Henry's home and bar
•  Homes of Peter Cooper, Edwin Booth, and Stanford White

West Village street scene

August 7   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE INTIMATE WEST VILLAGE WITH ITS SPECTACULAR WATERFRONT PARK

MEET: Leroy St. & 7th Ave. South, southwest corner. Subway: #1 to Houston St., walk 2 blocks north on 7th Ave. South. 

The West Village is a 19th century preserve with its concealed-yet-open garden, complex web of streets, and a house 9½ feet wide. Classic 19th century 3-story townhouses set the stage. This is a community neighborhood of quirky angled streets with literary hang-outs, European-style coffeehouses, and Off-Broadway theatres — the quintessential American Bohemia. Its sites inspired Edgar Allan Poe's “The Raven”, and O. Henry's “The Last Leaf.”
 
But one block west of its border, the neighborhood changes abruptly. Gone are the run-down remains of waterfront commerce — transient hotels, cheap bars, and old factories. Now new tall glass-covered buildings rise up with celebrity-filled condominiums and look out over a spectacular, transformed waterfront. Today the shoreline is alive again, this time with grassy playing fields, quiet lawns, children's playgrounds, and 800' long restored piers.

painting, Mrs. Cornelia Ward Hall, by Michele Gordigiani (1835-1909)

August 15   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE GILDED AGE — GRANDIOSE YEARNINGS FROM UNTAXED EARNINGS

MEET: 78th Street & Madison Avenue, southwest corner.

Rivalry between "old money" & "new money" filled the gossip pages of the Gilded Age newspapers. Old money dated from Dutch & British colonial times; new money flowed from the industrialization beginning with the Civil War.
 
Between 78th Street and 92nd Street, Fifth Avenue still has a concentration of formidable Gilded Age mansions. The industrial age moguls who built these city chateaux were vying to outdo one another & flaunting their wealth & worthiness for all to see. Women of the new-monied class competed for social standing with clothing, parties, and aristocratic connections.
 
Highlights of the tour:
• Vanderbilts, Astors, and Guggenheims
• "Poor little rich girl"
• Architectural masterpieces by C.P.H.Gilbert, Stanford White and Richard Morris Hunt
• "Dollar princesses"
• The Age of Shoddy
H.M.S. Titanic