The Dutch settlement only lasted 40 years, but those strong-minded tradesmen left their mark in a district where people from all over the world come to buy low and sell high. This lively history walk follows the streets used by Manhattanites for 384 years. It introduces visitors to the oldest part of the city and shows how the metropolis and the center of world finance came to be what it is today.
Amid streets whose names commemorate the 17th century Dutch market, the mill used to grind grain, and the canal used to trap beaver, participants will discover what remains of New Amsterdam, as well as the buildings, people, and events that once started a new nation, and recreated the area as its financial center. The Financial District boasts many of Manhattan's most famous historic sites, including:
• Federal Hall — site of George Washington's inauguration
• Battery Park — military statues and a world-class harbor
• Trinity Church — long head of the Episcopal Church of New York
• Fraunces Tavern — with its Revolutionary War associations
• The New York Stock Exchange — by far the world's busiest
• Federal Reserve Bank of New York— site of more gold than anywhere else
These days, enormous shifts have come to the neighborhood. Dozens of skyscrapers have gone residential, and new restaurants are flowering. We will examine the new changes in a historic context, and explore the areas of greatest change and potential.
New York Custom History Tours for Individuals or Groups
Planning a visit to New York City? Explore NY with seasoned city historian, Joyce Gold.
Schedule a guided tour where each tour is a unique experience tailored to the interests and requests of the individual or group. Joyce shares accurate, interesting information with wonderful details and stories with a historical twist that will delight any group.
CUSTOM TOURS for family and friends begin at $325 for 1½ hrs with up to 6 people.
For a complete price schedule and quote for your custom tour or for corporate tours, contact Joyce.
Tour Options - Review our list of over 40 suggested tours hot-linked to the listings and grouped below by location:
MANHATTAN WALKING TOURS:
» Financial District (from Battery Park to Chambers Street)
» Downtown – Above the Financial District (between Chambers Street to Houston Street)
» Greenwich Village & Chelsea Tours (between Houston Street & 30th Street)
» Midtown Tours (from 14th Street to 39th Street)
» Uptown Tours (above 59th Street to Washington Heights)
CORPORATE TOURS — Joyce Gold specializes in providing high-level, enjoyable tours for corporate clients.
BUS TOURS & OTHER VEHICLE TOURS — Bus Tours and other vehicle tours allow groups to cover several neighborhoods on one tour.
Contact Joyce for more information about planning your own private tour.
The Dutch settlement only lasted 40 years, but those strong-minded tradesmen left their mark in a district where people from all over the world come to buy low and sell high. This lively history walk follows the streets used by Manhattanites for 384 years. It introduces visitors to the oldest part of the city and shows how the metropolis and the center of world finance came to be what it is today.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON IN THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT — “HOW THE SAUSAGE GETS MADE”
Alexander Hamilton immigrated to British Colonial New York as a young, orphaned nobody, but quickly rose to be an influential player in the Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States of America.
On the southern tip of Manhattan, Hamilton lived, studied, worked, and served to create a financially robust nation in good standing with the international community. Today’s Financial District was the setting for much of Hamilton’s career.
• Site of first capital of the United States
• Society of the Cincinnati
• Trinity Church, the Tory stronghold
• Hamilton’s political foes, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr
• Grave of Hamilton & Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION DOWNTOWN
Before the American Revolution, New York City was a Tory stronghold with commercial, religious, and cultural ties to England. But there was also a strong undercurrent opposing England’s rule. The Sons of Liberty gathered secretly to plan trouble, and rebellious colonists pulled down the statue of King George III in Bowling Green.
In 1776 after the Battle of Brooklyn, the retreating Americans set fire to much of the city destroying large sectors before the English could take control. Spy Nathan Hale was captured and hanged in Manhattan.
At the war’s end, after the English evacuated the city, George Washington bade farewell to his troops at Fraunces Tavern. He was inaugurated at Federal Hall, and Alexander Hamilton served as first Secretary of the Treasury. The President prayed at St. Paul’s Chapel, brokers began the New York Stock Exchange, and royal street names like King St, Queen Street, and Crown Street were removed.
• Trinity Church
• City Hall Park, protest site of raised Liberty Poles
• St Paul’s Chapel and Churchyard
• The Bowling Green uprising
• Washington’s inauguration, and the first federal government
JEWISH COLONIAL MANHATTAN—DUTCH INCLUSIVENESS OPENED AMERICA’S DOOR
In 1654, 23 Jewish men, women, and children arrived in Dutch New Amsterdam. Settling into their new life included adapting to restrictions imposed by the frontier town, and dealing with subsequent Jewish arrivals with traditions different from their own. Their immediate concern was how to earn a living when many occupations were closed to them.
During the Dutch and British periods groups of Jews arrived from a variety of countries. The process of their making Manhattan a home involved creating a place to pray, providing kosher food, keeping their children within the faith, and balancing the interests of Sephardic and Ashkenazi residents.
Highlights include Site of the first synagogue in North America
• The 18th century Jewish ghetto
• George Washington’s letter affirms tolerance toward Jews
• Minuit Plaza—the flagpole inscription honors the original 23 Jews in New York
• The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island—great symbols of America
In the heyday of clipper ships, 12 blocks around South Street comprised one of the great seaports of the world. Today’s wide slips, solid brick houses, and Belgian block streets evoke that earlier time, when seafaring trades created great wealth. Discovering today’s businesses in these historic settings offers us an unusual delight.
Highlights of this tour of the district include:
• Where the East River used to be
• The third oldest building in Manhattan
• America’s first presidential mansion
• Tale of the stolen building
• The latest additions in the seaport’s revival
THE DREAMS AND TERRORS OF ELLIS ISLAND
Discover the first experiences in America of the 17 million people who fled Europe in ship steerage in hopes of finding a new life in a strange but promising country.
GOVERNORS ISLAND — A QUICK RIDE TO THE COUNTRYSIDE
(Governors Island is open to the public from May through September. Tours are possible only during those five months.) Governors Island is a prime piece of real estate just a short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan with phenomenal views of that skyline. Until recently the island was federal land and closed to the public. Today government, private interests, and the public are all involved in defining the future of this unique section of New York.
In Dutch and British colonial times, the island was pasture, timberland, game preserve, and summer resort. For nearly two centuries after the American Revolution it served as guardian of the harbor and was in continuous military use.
A visit today includes areas designated as national monuments, temporary art installations, and activities from jazz concerts to children’s activities to biking in a car-free environment. It’s a visit to quiet, green, and open-spaces. The big question to consider is — what lies ahead?
BATTERY PARK CITY — PUBLIC/PRIVATE VENTURE WITH HILLY WOODLANDS, WIDE RIVER PARK, & SURPRISING AMENITIES
Replacing deserted piers along Lower Manhattan's Hudson River shoreline, Battery Park City has emerged as a remarkable living space. Its 92 acres of landfill were developed by the Battery Park City Authority, an innovative group of public and private advocates.
The secret of Battery Park City's success is its integration of public amenities and private initiatives in artistically-designed natural landscapes, including hills, secret paths, and glorious panoramas.
• Parks with playfields that include dramatic vistas, hilly woodlands, and delightful yet sinister sculpture
• Poetry House, the Irish Hunger Memorial, Winter Garden, and public bathrooms galore
• Politics of the public-benefit corporation
• Environmentally state-of-the-art private spaces
see the write up on this tour in the Tribeca Citizen
GROUND ZERO AND ITS NEIGHBORS — 20 YEARS LATER
Recovery from the infamous September 11, 2001 attack has redefined this part of the city. The monumental task of redesigning the World Trade Center site has epitomized the struggle among competing interests vying for influence and control over this historic re-working of Manhattan’s oldest district.
Site by site, developers, governments, 9/11 families, growing numbers of residents, the business community, and numerous others have all clashed and compromised to redefine the future there.
How is the area changing? Will the new neighborhood be an improvement? Will the new architecture uplift our sense of purpose and the perception of the tragedy? What memorials and memories will remain of 9/11? When have Americans across the country affected what happens here? Will tourists overwhelm the neighborhood? How will security measures affect the atmosphere of the newly diversified district? These are some of the issues that you can explore on this challenging new tour.
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, Dead Rabbits.
• 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
MORE TEEMING THAN BOMBAY — THE OLD JEWISH LOWER EAST SIDE
Take a step back in time with a walking tour of the tenements, settlement houses, home life, literary culture, and religion of the early 20th century immigrants. This tour focuses on the period from the 1880s to 1930s when over a million and a half Jews, chiefly from Eastern Europe, crowded into this area, giving it the largest concentration of Jewish people in the world.
Remnants of the institutions that improved the immigrants' lives survive, next door to their modern equivalents, which still strive to help people into this constantly changing neighborhood.
Highlights include viewing (but not entering):
• The historic Forward Building, home to the world's largest Yiddish newspaper
• Seward Park Library, center of reading and education for generations
• Eldridge Street Synagogue, first synagogue in U.S. built by Jews of Eastern Europe
• The Tenement Museum, which explains living conditions of the past (a view from the outside)
• The Educational Alliance, a settlement house started by immigrants that spawned many Jewish artists and politicians of renown
WHEN IRELAND, CHINA AND ITALY BECAME NEIGHBORS
Just north and east of today’s City Hall and Municipal Building there are neighborhoods that in the nineteen century were densely packed with immigrants from Ireland, China and Italy, struggling against poverty, disease, prejudice and violence.
This tour traces the reasons behind the mass immigrations of Irish, Chinese and Italians to New York, and their diverse experiences upon arrival. What were the advantages of coming here? What were the difficulties each group faced, and what effect does this history have on the character of the city today? We will visit historic landmarks, shops and eateries, and explore the texture of these overlapping neighborhoods.
Highlights of the walk include;
• The Italian-American priest who leads Mass in Cantonese
• An examination of the roots of New York’s multicultural composition
• The cooperation and conflicts among very different populations
• The Roman Catholic church with Lutheran, Episcopal, Cuban, Irish, Italian, Chinese, and Buddhist history
Today the Irish are gone from the area, Chinatown is growing, and Little Italy is contracting as area’s demographics continually shift. What will the future hold for each section, and what is the fate of these fascinating ethnic enclaves?
THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE — ROMANTIC PASSAGEWAY THAT JOINS TWO ISLANDS
Since its opening in 1883 the bridge has been praised for its innovation, its beauty, and the scene from its raised walkway. It has been an icon of New York City and still evokes amazement for its engineering, its beauty, and the views from its raised, wooden walkway. Poets, novelists, filmmakers, and painters have celebrated it, as “a living connection” of architectural grace and strength.
Tour highlights include:
• The fascinating story of the site, design, personalities, and construction of the bridge
• Spectacular views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the great harbor of New York
• The first section of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, which encompasses 1.2 miles along the Brooklyn waterfront
THE BOWERY — ENTERTAINMENTS HIGH AND LOW
From flashy district of vaudeville, minstrel shows and operettas, to raucous saloons, bare-knuckle boxing, and Skid Row, the still-changing Bowery has seen it all.
Rural to the 1800s, the street evolved into a flashy entertainment district for the working class. During the Civil War the Bowery was a center of New York's theatrical life. Here vaudeville began and minstrel shows became popular. H.M.S. Pinafore and the stage version of Uncle Tom's Cabin debuted on the Bowery. By the 1870s raucous saloons combined socializing and bare-knuckled boxing for entertainment. Though the street's fortunes declined, its venues at the turn of the last century were the early training grounds for such greats as Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, and George M. Cohan.
The 1892 The Bowery song with its humorous view of a tourist's being ripped off popularized the street as a disreputable place. The Depression of the 1930s cemented its reputation as Skid Row for people who had lost all hope. With the late CBGB home of Underground Rock, and more recently the luxury Bowery Hotel and the New Museum, the Bowery's identity is changing again.
TRIBECA — NEW SCENE IN OLD INDUSTRIAL STREETSCAPE
Tribeca’s industrial past remains visible in its cast iron buildings & raised loading docks. Although reconfigured into residential lofts and hotspots of food, film, and design, these industrial buildings facing Belgian block streets retain the character of their original use.
This historic district was once a great estate. In the late 19th century wholesale distribution businesses organized in the area, a center for meat and produce, cheese, butter & eggs, and huge warehouses.
• Architectural mix of Harrison St
• Hudson Street property line
• Vauxhall Gardens now Washington Market Park
• Tribeca Film Festival
THE NEW HUDSON SQUARE
Hudson Square most recently was the Printing District, with publishers & printing presses throughout. More recently it has changed into a place where creative people come to live & work—media and advertising companies, digital innovators, tech startups, and more.
This tour includes the intrigues of Aaron Burr, John Jacob Astor, Tammany Hall, & an entity that has owned much of the neighborhood for over 300 years. Find out why the tunnel is named “Holland” & what world records it broke. Discover why Disney, Google, WBAI, WQXR, & even Uber’s billionaire founder have all chosen to move to this innovative neighborhood.
SOHO — CAST IRON STAGE FOR MANY PLAYERS
The nineteenth century cast iron emporiums of Soho have witnessed the full cycle of new development, deterioration, and restoration.
A leisurely walk through this picturesque New York area acquaints walkers with the legacies of generations of Soho residents — the immigrants who worked in retail in the 1840s and then in wholesale in the 1880s, and the artists and entrepreneurs who have helped create the current ultra-cool look of the region, sometimes literally by painting the walls.
Why have such upscale retail outfits as Prada, Kate's Paperie and Bloomingdale's chosen this small, formerly industry-heavy part of town for retail branches? In what ways does the past affect the future here? And in what direction is Soho moving today?
Greenwich Village and Chelsea Walking Tours (between Houston Street & 30th Street)
LITTLE ISLAND — INTO THE LAND OF OZ
Perched out in the Hudson River between 13th & 14th Street, Little Island is a compact park of new land covered with grasslands, woodlands, and look-outs. Only 2 ¼ acres in size, its friendly wave-like surface conceals the drama and delight within.
The “floating” park starts just 15’ above the water. Thanks to clever engineering, landscaping and architectural slight-of-hand, the true height of the lookouts – and other important features -- are concealed from street-level observers. All the Island’s features are connected via meandering pathways (ADA-compliant ramps) with wonderful views, sea breezes and occasional stairs for shortcuts.
The agile designers and builders set a high bar requiring massive collaboration among all parties. Matching depth of soil, weight capacities of the pilings and tulip pots, and exposure, beauty, and age of vegetation was a functional and artistic ballet. Already sporting mature trees 30 – 50 years old, the park opened in May 2021.
THE FLAMBOYANT AND THE BOHEMIAN — GREENWICH VILLAGE AND HOW IT BECAME FAMOUS
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.
• 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 architectural as a social document
• Coffeehouses of the Beat Generation
• The Minetta trout stream and street design
• Landmarking and preservation controversies
GREENWICH VILLAGE LITERARY WALK
The openness of Greenwich Village drew artists of all sorts including novelists, poets, playwrights, and writers of detective fiction, short stories, and muckraking exposés. Living and working in close proximity to one another, 19th and 20th century luminaries could find inspiration and good company in this bohemia.
Among the greatest writers have been:
• Walt Whitman, the great poet
• Henry James, the novelist whose masterwork was Washington Square
• Edith Wharton, the author of such New York-based historical novels as The House of Mirth and Age of Innocence
• Louisa May Alcott, writer of Little Women
• Edgar Allan Poe, author of such macabre tales as Murders in the Rue Morgue and such poems as The Raven and Annabel Lee
• Stephen Crane, author of the novel Red Badge of Courage
• Eugene O’Neill, possibly America’s greatest playwright
• Ida Tarbell, muckraking attacker of Standard Oil’s monopoly
• Willa Cather, author of such novels of the Midwest as My Antonia
• Edna St. Vincent Millay, first women to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. We will see where these authors lived and hung out, and examine how this literary community evolved over time.
THE IMMIGRANT, RADICAL, NOTORIOUS WOMEN OF WASHINGTON SQUARE
In few other places on earth have so many notable women lived and achieved. For the last 150 years, it has seen an unparalleled variety of women – working class, gentry, radical, literary, academic, theatrical, convict, and immigrant – remarkable women who left their imprints on the Washington Sq. neighborhood – and beyond.
Highlights of the tour — literary, art, and theatre iconoclasts:
• The salon of Mable Dodge, a center of WW I-era activism
• The tragedy of the Triangle fire and its role in the labor movement
• The Suffrage Movement
see the write up on this tour in the New York Times
ITALIAN GREENWICH VILLAGE
Italian priests, saints, shop owners, politicians and mobsters all contributed to the scene south of Washington Square.
The South Village, the district south of Washington Square Park, is what most people picture when they think of Greenwich Village. Today much of the charm of the South Village comes from its many original Italian businesses, some started over 100 years ago and now run by the third and fourth generations.
The enduring Italian presence may be because residents from southern Italy were slow to become Americanized, holding family and traditions close. Socializing primarily with people from their native part of Italy, they established churches, social clubs, workplaces, and other needs of daily life.
The full story of the South Village includes African-Americans, Irish, and Italian priests, saints, shop-owners, politicians, and mobsters. Images of the neighborhood contribute to such films as Godfather II, Raging Bull, Serpico, and Moonstruck.
MACABRE GREENWICH VILLAGE
Celebrate the Halloween season with some of the spookiest stories in New York — murders, hangings, explosions, famous missing persons, specters, hauntings, and ghosts. Death lies in plain view —if you know where to look.
• Washington Square Park graveyard
• The 19th century Jewish graveyard
• Newgate prison
• The murdered architect
• The tale of the haunting artist
• America's most famous missing person
• Hangings, and the hangman's house
• Edgar Allan Poe's home and his inspiration for The Raven
• The day the music died
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, 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 a long-disappeared waterfront commerce — transient hotels, cheap bars, and old factories. Now new glass-covered high-rise buildings rise 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.
HISTORIC DIVERSITY IN THE EAST VILLAGE — DUTCH FARM, IRISH ALE HOUSE, AND THE YIDDISH KING LEAR
Peter Stuyvesant, a Director General of the New Netherlands, was the first owner of the farmland now known as the East Village. Later, Irish laborers moved into the area to build ships along the East River. Germans also thrived here, until a tragedy resulted in the death of over 1000 of their people. As Germans left the neighborhood, Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian immigrants moved in, bringing new life, food, and traditions.
• St. Marks-in-the-Bowery Church
• McSorley’s Old Ale House
• Cooper Union for the Advancement of Arts and Sciences
• The Astor Place Opera riot
• The General Slocum Disaster
• Yiddish Rialto theatres
CIVIL WAR IN MANHATTAN
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.
• Abraham Lincoln, the candidate and president
• Horace Greeley, the abolitionist editor
• Confederate plot to burn down New York
• The Draft and Draft Riots
• The Monitor & New York shipbuilding
• General Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Farragut
FROM UNION SQUARE TO MADISON SQUARE — BASEBALL, TAMMANY HALL, AND THE GIRL ON THE RED VELVET SWING
Hubs of political chicanery, Union Square and Madison Square were gathering places
for sports fans, anarchists, vaudevillians, and 19th century fashionistas. The Squares were key stations along the steady movement north of residences, houses of worship, entertainment venues, retail stores, hotels, and political organizations. But they evolved along divergent paths.
From the Civil War to World War I, political radicals, labor unions, and the Democratic Party used Union Square as a home base and platform for demonstrations and protests. The image of Madison Square reflected its wealthier residents, bosses of the Republican Party, and iconic early skyscrapers — the Flatiron Building and the Metropolitan Life insurance Building.
• Tammany Hall
• The Amen Corner
• The Knickerbocker Club and the first rules of baseball
• Anarchists, Socialists, and communists
• Ladies Mile, an elegant corridor of luxury shops for women
** NEW **
THE ROSE HILL SECTION OF NOMAD—THROWING OFF VICTORIAN CONSTRAINTS
Rose Hill has long been a neighborhood of contrasts. It once held homes of old moneyed New Yorkers, but also includes 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 the 1890s scene. Today you can see whole streets of stately Beaux-Arts skyscrapers and a building 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.
• 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”
THE GENIUS AND ELEGANCE OF GRAMERCY PARK
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.
• 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
HIDDEN CHARMS OF CHELSEA
Beginning in the 18th century as one man's farm, this west Chelsea neighborhood is a beautiful enclave of elegant 19th century New York. Houses survive in the Federal, Greek-Revival, and Italianate styles. One centerpiece of the neighborhood is the 180-year-old General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, still a picturesque center of learning.
The new look in world-class architecture is also here — eye-catching structures by Frank Gehry, Annabelle Selloff, and Jean Nouvel. Art sites include such galleries as those of Matthew Marks, Pat Hearn, Morris Healy, and Annina Nosei. The newest museum on the block is the Chelsea Art Museum.
After exploring these far-west streets, the tour ends at the newest work of art, the remarkably-transformed High Line Park. After hearing about its history and design, tour-takers can enjoy climbing up to see this "Jack in the Beanstalk" wonderland and the beautiful views within and around it.
The new High Line Park began its life as an industrial elevated railroad that traveled above the street traffic and through the buildings it served. Today the new city park on the old rail-bed serves as an international model for creative reuse of industrial structures.
We will climb the "slow steps" to see this amazing woodland, grassland, and urban wonderland and walk into the newly-opened extension of the remarkably-transformed space.
Tour highlights include:
• Preserving the abandoned look
• Seating, lighting, and views
• Artistic, environmental and structural elements
• The park's effect on the neighborhood
NEW ARCHITECTURE AT THE WATERFRONT — FROM THE WHITNEY TO HUDSON YARDS
It isn’t often that over a mile stretch of Manhattan waterfront becomes available for the development of commercial & residential innovations. But that is what happened when the meat market, freight and passenger ship travel left West Chelsea.
The change began with the prospect of turning a long-unused set of elevated tracks into the High Line Park. Some of the world’s most prominent architects—Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid—have designed spectacular structures here that make this neighborhood a world-class architectural destination.
Tour highlights include:
• Piano's Whitney Museum of American Art
• Gehry's "Glass Schooner"
• Polshek's "Voyeur’s Hotel"
• Nouvel's "Vision Machine"
• Hadid's first residential project in New York City
Manhattan - Midtown Walking Tours (from 30th Street to 59th Street)
MURRAY HILL — FROM "THE RESTRICTION" TO J.P. MORGAN AND FRIENDS
Just south of Grand Central Terminal lies this orderly, residential enclave, notable for its graceful non-commercial character. That orderliness and quiet demeanor was no accident. The Murray family controlled the development of their land, included limiting the sale of liquor, and keeping businesses out.
From the days of banker and industrialist J. P. Morgan through those of newly-weds Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Murray Hill has been the district of choice for the elegant mansions, beautiful brownstones, and enormous carriage houses of New York's elite, and has seen an extraordinary concentration of wealth and power.
• The enclave of British war brides
• The mansion built to upstage J P Morgan
• The horse tunnel adapted for modern life
• Brothers to the Rescue corner
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL — CROSSROADS OF A MILLION PRIVATE LIVES
100 years ago Grand Central Terminal opened to great acclaim. More than 150,000 people visited it on opening day. The dramatic new structure was a thrilling symbol of the fast-expanding commercial and intellectual reach of the second largest city in the world.
A majestic Beaux Arts rendition of a classical form, Grand Central is impressive outside and within. A monumental sculpture crowns its 42nd Street façade. The Main Concourse has the soaring dimensions of a cathedral. The building seems to embody the huge purpose of the terminal — to move great numbers of people, to provide services for travelers, to outshine its rival, and to create a real estate boom with the innovation of air rights.
Additional highlights of the walk include:
• The tragedy that led to its creation
• Design that made traffic flow and luggage glide
• Its history-making role in landmarking New York City’s heritage
• The Campbell Apartment
• Commodore Vanderbilt, Whitney Warren, Jackie Onassis
• The Whispering Arch
FORTY-SECOND STREET — LET’S MEET THERE!
Forty-Second Street hosts some of the most glorious places in New York City—the New Amsterdam Theater, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, the Chrysler Building, Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. Great news organizations —The New York Times, Reuters, and The Daily News —have made 42nd Street a media mecca. All along that thoroughfare, people converge on these important places and feel the beat of the great city.
And that beat has been drawing folks for over 100 years, even though live cattle and slaughterhouses stank up the east and west ends until the 1940's. Forty-Second Street had met many of the challenges of urban co-existence long before the United Nations took its place at the east end of this famous thoroughfare.
ROOSEVELT ISLAND — FROM MADMEN AND CRIMINALS TO INNOVATION HOTSPOT
Set in the middle of the East River, Roosevelt Island served as a place to pasture swine for the Dutch, and later as the Blackwell family farmland. In the early 19th century the city bought the island and for 100 years used it to house the unsavory services of prison and madhouse. In the last few decades, it has become a thriving mixed-income town built from a Master Plan. And major changes are on the way.
• The new Jacobs Technion - Cornell Institute – partnership for experimentation and innovation
• Preparations for the upcoming Cornell-Technion venture—their institute for innovation
• The Roosevelt Island Tramway, a picturesque & reliable transport
• Blackwell’s Farmhouse, a centuries-old residence
• Spectacular views of Manhattan
GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY — THE DAZZLE OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY
Times Square — the area around Broadway from 42nd to 55th Sts. — is one of the hottest tickets in town. The spectacle and sparkle of Times Square draw millions of visitors each year, and looking back through its larger-than-life history it’s no surprise.
• The legacies of Florenz Ziegfeld, Irving Berlin, and George M. Cohan
• "Naughty, bawdy, gawdy, sporty 42nd Street"
• Starring roles for The New York Times, Walt Disney and Mayor John Lindsay
• The new pedestrian-friendly enhancements
THE HUDSON YARDS — 21ST CENTURY VERTICAL
A brand new city is rising in Midtown—the Hudson Yards. It covers 28 acres, between 30th & 34th St, & from 10th Ave to West St & the Hudson River.
Hudson Yards is a mix of 21st century architecture accessorized with a large interactive sculpture and a touch of gently-curved landscaping. Soaring over deep rail yards, this high-end corporate & residential development includes seven stories of retail shopping and restaurants. The Vessel—the 150’-high permanent art installation—attracts urban adventurers to its Escher-like spiral stairwells. The Shed, an ambitious cultural center, was built with a quilted, retractable shell that can open the space to the outdoors.
Hudson Yards has precedents in Manhattan as a city-within-a-city—Battery Park City & Rockefeller Center. Each embodies its time and priorities.
IRISH HELL'S KITCHEN
Fleeing starvation during the Famine, Irish immigrants poured into New York City in the mid 19th century in search of a better life. One of the few jobs open to Irish men was back-breaking work on the docks. Hell's Kitchen faced the westside waterfront, a squalid, crime-ridden and overcrowded slum. Here the Irish families struggled to survive poverty and overcome discrimination.
The area's name still evokes images of:
• gang fights along Tenth Avenue
• Irish killers with names like Happy Jack Mulraney, Goo Goo Knox, Stumpy Malarkey, and One-Lung Curran
• Cattle pens and slaughterhouses on West 39th St.
Uptown Walking Tours (above 59th Street to Washington Heights)
CENTRAL PARK — THE BIG BACK YARD OF THE CITY
150 years ago these 843 acres were manually restructured from a "filthy, squalid, and
disgusting" site into a work of art at the heart of Manhattan, Olmsted and Vaux's first masterpiece of
urban landscape design.
Fast-growing, business-oriented New York City had largely ignored quality of life issues for its citizens. By the middle of the 19th century this omission had become so apparent that the city government arranged a competition for the design and creation of a great park. The winning design of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux transformed 843 acres into an educational, recreational, and horticultural marvel.
• The Arsenal, which pre-dates the park
• Bethesda Fountain and Angel of the Waters
• The Mall and its literary figures
• The impact of Central Park on the entire nation at large
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art mistake
• Where did they get all those trees?
FIFTH AVENUE GOLD COAST
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.
• The American Dream and its dark side
• American tycoons with aristocratic yearnings
• Grandiose homes and what happened to them
• Landmarked district 1 mile long
CRIMES OF FIFTH AVENUE GOLD COAST
The American Dream and its dark side reside even on Fifth Avenue. 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. But as the wealth moved in, so did chicanery and violence. Great historic mansions housed both perpetrators and victims, sometimes both living together.
• American tycoons with aristocratic yearnings.
• Grandiose homes and what happened in them
• Landmarked district one mile long
• Private armies, criminal intent, financial skullduggery
THE GILDED AGE—GRANDIOSE YEARNINGS FROM UNTAXED EARNINGS
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
NORTHERN REACHES OF CENTRAL PARK
Many surprises await us just south of 110th St. The second largest lake in the park — the beautiful Harlem Meer —anchors a landscape unknown to many New Yorkers. It’s a place of open green lawns inviting strollers in from the sidewalk to enjoy the lake and paths, and the sharp outcroppings on the far side across the water. Here folks enjoy quiet fishing, hiking up the steep trails, watching turtles and birds, and learning in the Discovery Center.
Immediately south of the Meer is a world unto itself — the strikingly beautiful 1930s Conservatory Garden, a treasured enclave we will enter and explore. The tour also covers such historic sites as Nutter’s Batter, Fort Clinton, and the original Polo Grounds baseball stadium.
We will look out across Fifth Avenue and see the newest museum to join Museum Mile and evidence of the latest migration uptown.
CENTRAL PARK WEST — ARTISTS, THE "SERVANT PROBLEM," AND THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASS
Astute landowners kept property off the market until the 1880s when new transportation opened up
the neighborhood. New laws and construction techniques produced the modern apartment concept.
Real estate booms brought abrupt change to 19th century farmlands and a step up for aspiring achievers. New laws and construction techniques produced the modern apartment concept.
Looking much the same for the past 75 years, Central Park West includes a great variety of architectural styles —Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Beaux-Arts, French Chateauwith subtle touches of castles, temples, and cantilevered terraces.
• A great museum once called "a disgrace to the city"
• The earliest Jewish congregation in North America
• New York's oldest museum
• A solution to "the servant problem"
• Artists, gangsters, and Rosemary's Baby
** NEW **
FAR WEST 70s — BETWEEN THE APTHORPE, THE ANSONIA, AND THE RIVER
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 contemplative 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.
HARLEM HISTORY WALK — SUGAR HILL ACHIEVERS, SPLENDID ARCHITECTURE, AND SCHOMBERG’S DREAM
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:
• The birth of jazz and 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
Harlem was once the third largest Jewish settlement in the world, after Warsaw and the Lower East Side. In the neighborhood more than 150,000 Jews listened to the great Yossele Rosenblatt chant Sabbath services and were terrified when gangsters like Lefty Louie Horowitz and Whitey Lewis fought gun battles on 125th St. They bought at Blumstein’s Department Store and saw teen-age singers Walter Winchell and George Jessel begin their careers.
The tour considers the following questions —
• Why did Jewish New Yorkers move to Harlem?
• What was their reception?
• How did they keep the children within the fold?
• Are any synagogues still active in Harlem?
Today still visible are -
• Stained-glass Stars of David
• Ten Commandments tablets
• Middle Eastern filigree
• A cornerstone that says built in “5668”
• Such vestiges of Orthodox Judaism as women’s balconies
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — FROM THE BLOOMINGDALE INSANE ASYLUM TO THE ACROPOLIS OF NEW YORK
Once farmland and a battlefield, this district evolved into a center for learning, healing, and spirituality.
In the 1820's the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum started the gradual transformation of these heights from farmland to the Acropolis of learning, healing, and spirituality. Unusual for Manhattan, this neighborhood was planned and financed as a cohesive center, for mind, body, and spirit. In the 1880s, the 9th Avenue elevated train was constructed, helping to realize the plan to make this area a choice location for a places of learning, hospital, and houses of worship.
• Morningside Park
• The Battle of Harlem Heights
• The world's largest Gothic cathedral
• New York's first college, founded in 1754
• An inter-denominational house of worship built with Rockefeller money
• Grant's Tomb — no one is buried there!
YORKVILLE — THE MIDDLE-EUROPEAN CITY
In the 1840s immigrants from the present Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary came to America fleeing inflation, mass uprisings, and government repression. By the late 1860s two German entrepreneurs, Jacob Ruppert and George Ehret, built breweries in rural Yorkville near the East River. As people moved uptown for the brewery jobs, houses of worship, cultural centers, and commercial establishments arose.
The neighborhood today has elements of a Middle European city, Vanderbilt money, Tammany control, and the Progressive movement. Today the new Second Avenue subway makes the entire neighborhood more accessible to all.
• Bohemian National Hall, active since 1897
• St. Stephen of Hungary
• "Sauerkraut Boulevard"
• Budapest Café
• Deutsche Evangelische Kirche von Yorkville
• Cherokee Apartments
** NEW **
FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN — FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN PROSPERITY
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.
Additional highlights include:
• Mid-19th century beautiful streetscapes.
• Brooklyn Tech High School.
• Spike Lee and his film production company "40 Acres and a Mule".
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS AS 19TH CENTURY SUBURB: THE GENTRY ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Just across the Brooklyn Bridge from Wall Street, Brooklyn Heights is one of the most beautiful and charming neighborhoods in the city. It was the first district in New York to be awarded landmarks designation protection.
• Locale of important activity in the American Revolution.
• Plymouth Church—once the headquarters of Henry Ward Beecher and his Abolitionist preaching, now home to Tiffany windows.
• Some of the finest examples in town of 19th century townhouses.
• Buildings where such great writers as Walt Whitman, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, and Norman Mailer have lived.
• Great vantage point in town to see Manhattan’s Financial District.
PARK SLOPE — HISTORIC GEM OF A NEIGHBORHOOD
Park Slope has long been Brooklyn’s quintessential residential neighborhood. Its 19th century mansions, churches, brownstone and brick row houses make it an impressive landmark district, the largest in Brooklyn.
The 1873 opening of Prospect Park spurred the development of the area. When the Brooklyn Bridge opened 10 years later, it enabled people to move more deeply into Brooklyn without lengthening their commute to Manhattan jobs. Accustomed to flats and apartments, city dwellers saw in Park Slope a chance to own their own homes.
Today the district is prized for its proximity to Prospect Park, varied architecture, restored stately homes and churches, and strong sense of community. The very definition of a well-rounded neighborhood, Park Slope has tree-lined streets, impressive front yard gardens, excellent public schools, scores of restaurants and bars, lovely shops, and a population of creative people.
Tour highlights include
• Montauk Club
• Grand Army Plaza
• Battle of Long Island
• Crash of the DC-8
• The mayor shot on camera
• Laura Jean Libbey and her dime-store novels
Gowanus — Caskets, Canal, & Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
For almost 200 years the name "Gowanus" has been synonymous with putrid
human & industrial waste. In 1911 a local politico described Gowanus Canal
as, "a 5,700'-long fetid groove renowned for its sometimes awe-inspiring
stench, & a near-mythic level of contamination."
Over the years cleaning up the canal surfaced as a necessity, so that gradual improvements raised awareness that Gowanus could become an appealing neighborhood, with a picturesque canal at its center.
Pioneering artists and galleries, major clean-up campaigns, and a canoe club have all contributed to the continuing rehab of Gowanus into a place good for creativity, small business, homes, restaurants, and shops promising multi-use neighborhood.
• Lavender Lake & Black Mayonnaise
• Al Capone
• Bonnano Crime Family
• Deadly swamp in the American Revolution
• Gowanus Souvenir store (gowanussouvenir.com )
• Batcave art center
DUMBO — WALLED CITY OF BROOKLYN
The small Brooklyn district of DUMBO was in its industrial heyday when the Erie Canal opened and steamships carried freight to and from its waterfront. Large scale manufacturing and warehousing thrived. But in the 1920s factories started closing, and gradually the neighborhood lost its vitality.
In the late 1970s artists and other bohemians began settling quietly into the empty factory buildings. These residents brought a cachet to the area. Soon other creative entrepreneurs moved into the large loft spaces, and developers saw a great opportunity for new residential real estate.
• Roofless warehouse ruins being transformed into a performance space
• A waterfront park with sculpture and a splendid view of Manhattan
• Landmarked district with train tracks embedded in Belgian block paving
• Outsized close-up views of bridge anchorages