PUBLIC WALKING TOURS NYC — Spring 2019

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.

Given the frequent subway service interruptions on weekends, check web.mta.info/weekender for changes and closed stations.
 
» Gift certificates available for public or private tours

» Spring Public Tour Schedule available for viewing and pdf download

exterior of Grand Central Terminal NYC

March 10   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL — “CROSSROADS OF A MILLION PRIVATE LIVES”

MEET: Just inside GCT entrance at E. 42nd St. under the Park Ave. viaduct.

New York’s monument to movement, Grand Central Terminal opened over 100 years ago and it remains one of great architectural beauties of the city. The dramatic structure is a thrilling symbol of the fast-expanding commercial and intellectual reach of what was becoming the greatest city in the U.S.
 
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  

Washington Square Park

March 16   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 architectural as a social document
•  Coffeehouses of the Beat Generation
•  The Minetta trout stream and street design
•  Landmarking and preservation controversies  

5th Ave Mansions

March 23   SATURDAY   1 to 3 PM

CRIMES OF THE GOLD COAST

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

Fraud, procuring, and murders most foul, all on the New York avenue of wealth and privilege. 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.
 
Highlights include;
•  American tycoons with aristocratic yearnings
•  Grandiose homes and what happened in them
•  Landmarked district one mile long
•  Private armies, criminal intent, financial skullduggery  

Historic illustration of old new york

March 31   SUNDAY   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, 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  

College Club, Murray Hill, NYC

April 7   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

MURRAY HILL — FROM "THE RESTRICTION" TO J.P. MORGAN AND FRIENDS

MEET: Kitano Hotel, Park Ave. & 38th St., southwest corner.

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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

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

** NEW **

April 14   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

Harlem Cotton club

April 20   SATURDAY   1 to 3:30 PM

HARLEM HISTORY WALK

MEET: City College, 138th St. & Amsterdam Ave. Take #1 subway 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  

Jewish Harlem

April 28   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

JEWISH HARLEM

MEET: NYS Office Building Plaza, W. 125th St. (MLK Blvd.) & Seventh Ave (AC Powell Blvd.) Take #2 or #3 subway to 125th St.

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?

5th Ave Mansions

May 7   TUESDAY   11 AM to 1 PM

FIFTH AVENUE GOLD COAST

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

Tycoons, Central Park, and great mansions created the New York avenue “paved with gold.” 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  

Bowery Mission, NYC

May 12   SUNDAY   1 to 3 PM

THE BOWERY — ENTERTAINMENTS HIGH AND LOW

MEET: The Bowery & Canal St., northwest corner, at TD Bank.

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.

Roosevelt Island tram

May 16   THURSDAY   11 AM to 1 PM

ROOSEVELT ISLAND —FROM MADHOUSE TO BILLION DOLLAR INNOVATION HOTSPOT

MEET: On Roosevelt Island, in front of the tram station. Take tram from 2nd Ave & 60th St. Manhattan; or F train subway, or East River Ferry to Roosevelt Island, then walk to the tram station near the Queensboro Bridge.

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. The most recent addition is at the center of the island - a striking set of glass buildings that house a unique partnership to promote high tech innovation and entrepreneurship.
 
 
Highlights include:
• The new Jacobs Technion – Cornell Institute
• The Roosevelt Island Tramway, a picturesque & reliable transport
• Blackwell’s Farmhouse, a centuries-old residence
• Spectacular views of Manhattan

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

** NEW **

May 18   SATURDAY   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

Gowanus sign a la Kentile Bklyn by Ute Zimmermann

May 23   THURSDAY   11 AM to 1 PM

GOWANUS – CASKETS, CANAL, AND MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

MEET: Smith & Carroll Streets, Brooklyn. Best subways: F & G trains to Carroll St.

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 for creative small business, homes, and appealing restaurants and shops.
 
Highlights include
• Lavender Lake & Black Mayonnaise
• Al Capone
• Bonnano Crime Family
• Deadly swamp in the American Revolution
• Gowanus Souvenir store (gowanussouvenir.com )
• Batcave art center

illustration Civil War in Manhattan

May 26   SUNDAY   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., between 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
• Confederate plot to burn down New York
• The Draft and Draft Riots
• The Monitor & New York shipbuilding
• General Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Farragut  

Our next scheduled tours will be posted soon .

Private tours are always available, beginning at $295 for up to 6 people.