TOUR DESCRIPTIONS:

Tour Options - Review our list of over 40 suggested tours hot-linked to the listings and grouped below by location:

MANHATTAN WALKING TOURS:

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Joyce Gold on tour
Joyce Gold
photo by Colleen Sturtevant
Historic flag of Dutch West India

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THE FORTY YEARS MANHATTAN WAS DUTCH

Beginning in 1624, the Dutch West India Company transformed an edge of Manhattan wilderness into the colonial city of New Amsterdam. They controlled Manhattan for only 40 years, until 1664, when the British took over. And yet the Dutch influence set the character of New York for the next 400 years, particularly in its money orientation, and tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity.
 
By 1644 the roughly 500 inhabitants of New Amsterdam included a wide variety of Europeans, Blacks both enslaved and free, and native Lenapes. Over 18 languages were heard on the streets. There were Dutch Reform adherents, Catholics, Quakers, and Anglicans. The first Jewish settlers in North America came to these streets in 1654.
 
Highlights include–
• New York’s first cash crop
• Bronze relief map of the New Amsterdam colony
• Dutch street patterns and street names that exist today
– Governors Willem Kieft and Peter Stuyvesant
– Jews and Quakers limit Stuyvesant’s power
 

WALL STREET — FROM WINDMILLS TO WORLD FINANCE

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.
 

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.
 
Highlights include
• 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 RESTRICTIONS, BRITISH ACCEPTANCE, AND STRUGGLE WITHIN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

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
 

Governors Island, New York Harbor

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 — DOWNSTATE HARBOR AND UPSTATE TRAILS

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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
 

Gangs of New York in Paradise Square and the Bloody Five Points

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  
 

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 — IRVING BERLIN, SKID ROW, AND THE ELEGANT BOWERY HOTEL

From gaudy 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.
 

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 & 23rd Street)

Arial view of Little Island, NYC.

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.

Gertrude V. Whitney, painting by Robert Henri.

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.
 
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
 

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
 

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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 INTIMATE WEST VILLAGE WITH ITS SPECTACULAR WATERFRONT PARK

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 condominiums that 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.
 

ETHNIC NOSHING IN THE EAST VILLAGE

The neighborhood has been and continues to be home to Irish, Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, German, and Italian populations. Its theaters, churches, shops, restaurants, and bakeries all reflect their diverse ethnic influences.
 
Their foods reminded the immigrants of home, supported the spirit of their heritage, and helped give them the strength to become Americans. The tour can include stories of the groups, the foods, and the eateries, all while tasting our way through the neighborhood.
 
Here are some choices for our serial nosh:
• a taste of fresh mozzarella at one of the best Italian cheese shops in town
• cookies from a Yiddish rialto bakery
• samosas at an Indian restaurant on E. 6th Street
• a burger and ale at (possibly) Manhattan’s oldest saloon
• a cookie and cappuccino at a century-old Italian pasticceria
• Venezuelan mini sandwiches, meat arepas
• a drink, with the recipe “no egg, no cream.”
 

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.
 
Highlights include:
•  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
 

THE AMERICAN 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.
 
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
 

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.
 
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
 

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 2-century-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 Selldorf, and Jean Nouvel. Art sites include such galleries as those of Matthew Marks, Pat Hearn, Morris Healy, and Annina Nosei.
 
The Chelsea Hotel, London Terrace, and Fitzroy Place round out our look at this varied and historical neighborhood.
 

Manhattan - Midtown Walking Tours  (between 23rd Street & 59th Street)

Tudor City building sign in NYC

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TUDOR CITY — A QUIET HAMLET IN A NOISY NEIGHBORHOOD

When the grid plan of 1811 was implemented, the hill between 1st and 2nd Avenues, at East 42nd St. was not leveled. East 42nd St had to tunnel through the hill to reach 1st Avenue.
 
Today that elevated land gives Tudor City a remarkably quiet, verdant setting above noisy, congested Midtown.
 
Built as a middle class, walk-to-work development, most Tudor City’s apartments were small and efficiently designed. Tudor-style architecture and lush parks were chosen to create the feeling of English countryside. In addition, no thru traffic was allowed in the enclave. East 41st and East 43rd Sts. do not connect to First Avenue. Instead they were linked to form a U-shaped road that traversed the East 42nd St. tunnel, now a slender bridge.
 
Highlights include:
• Tudor details of leaded stained-glass windows, and mythical creature details.
• Slender bridge over 42nd St. and landscaped parks
• A steeply sloping garden that highlights the elevation
• The Scharansky Steps
• Abdulghani al Jahmi’s Café
 

Sutton Place in New York City

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SUTTON PLACE — AVANT-GUARD WOMEN CREATE NEW ENCLAVE

Starting in the 1920s, creative and influential women of means saw an intriguing alternative to Fifth Avenue residences. Together, Anne Morgan, Elisabeth Marbury, and Anne Vanderbilt chose to totally renovate townhouses on one far Eastside block between 57th and 58th Sts. called Sutton Place. The area had a checkered past of middle-class residences pushed out by industry and the working poor. These 3 women thoroughly changed that block, beginning the creation of the beautiful, off-the-beaten-path neighborhood of today.
 
Highlights include:
• “Amazon Enclave”
• Society women who first enter professions
• Stories of actors, writers, musicians and other creative people who chose the neighborhood
• A private road east of Sutton Place
• Small public parks facing the East River
 

River House view from the river in New York City.

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TURTLE BAY AND BEEKMAN PLACE — Power and Its Limits

In the far East 40’s and 50’s, Turtle Bay and Beekman Place owe some of their caché to their geography. Perched on a high hill over the East River, the property afforded great views and healthful breezes. James Beekman built his country house at the top of the slope in 1763. By 1776, the British took over the house and used it as their headquarters until the end of the Revolutionary War. Nathan Hale was condemned to die here and was hanged nearby.
 
In the 1850’s, the coming of the grid plan of numbered streets and avenues upset the bucolic setting. The picturesque cove called Turtle Bay was filled in and the area’s brownstones were converted to tenements for the working class. But in the 1920’s creative people saw residential possibilities near the river, and soon impressive new homes started to appear.
 
In addition to creative and artistic people – like Bogart and Garbo - some residents of Turtle Bay were at the pinnacle of industry and government. The publisher of Time Magazine and Life Magazine Henry Luce, mogul and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wielded much power and influence. Did it get them what they wanted? When did it not?
 
Highlights include:
• River House
• Panhellenic, a hotel built for sorority alumnae
• Amster Yard
• Turtle Bay Gardens
 

portrait of Evelyn Nesbit.

NoMad — Jailbirds & Geniuses, Notoriety & Innocence, Museum of Sex & the Power of Positive Thinking

NoMad has long been a district of unexpected contrasts. In the area north of Madison Square, homes of moneyed New Yorkers were next to a safe house of the Underground Railroad. A snooty church was just around the corner from the Gay ‘90s scene of frequent assignations and colorful goings on.
 
Today NoMad still features whole blocks of Classical Revival architecture including a Beaux-Arts masterpiece. The dense vegetation of beautiful Madison Square 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
• Where Madonna got her start
• The Murder of the Century
• The announcement at dawn, “You are now the President of the United States”
 

GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL — CROSSROADS OF A MILLION PRIVATE LIVES

110 years ago Grand Central Terminal opened to great acclaim. The dramatic new structure was a thrilling symbol of the fast-expanding commercial and intellectual reach of the second largest city in the world.
 
Saved from demolition by Jackie Kennedy Onassis and others in the 1970s, the terminal grandly revived in the 1980s. In January 2023 the terminal expanded to create the Long Island Railroad’s access to the east side of Manhattan.
 
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 new East Side Access for the Long Island Railroad
• The tragedy that led to its creation
• Design that made traffic flow and luggage glide
• Its history-making role in landmarking New Yor City’s heritage
• Commodore Vanderbilt, Whitney Warren, Jackie Onassis
• The Whispering Arch
 

ROOSEVELT ISLAND — FROM LUNATIC ASYLUM TO NEW TECH HUB

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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
 

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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.
 
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
 

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.
 
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
 

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

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.
 
The current HBO series "The Gilded Age" presents a "new money" family - the Russells - and their disruptive attacks on "old money" Society. Joining this tour you will learn whom the Russells portray.
 
Between 78th Street and 86th 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
 

the Ansonia.

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FAR WEST 70s — THE ANSONIA, THE APTHORP AND THE ARCONIA

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 — MEDLEY OF ARCHITECTURE, SUGAR HILL ACHIEVERS, 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
 

Temple Israel, 1905 in Harlem, NY.

HARLEM 1910 — THE WORLD’S THIRD MOST POPULATED JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD

In 1910, only Warsaw and the Lower East Side were home to larger numbers of Jews than New York City’s Harlem. 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
 

Mural in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Power to the P.

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Williamsburg's Northside — REPURPOSED FACTORIES INSPIRE STREET ART, NIGHTSPOTS, AND A REDESIGNED WATERFRONT

Williamsburg‘s story is a familiar one in New York City. Think of Tribeca, SoHo, Red Hook, and Dumbo. In their time, these districts were thriving industrial hubs supplying the city and the whole country with manufactured goods from ships to pats of butter.
 
Williamsburg’s specialty was heavy industry – shipbuilding, sugar manufacturing, oil refining, glassmaking, beer brewing and iron works. Early German immigrants supplied the labor, followed by Jewish immigrants seeking escape from the Lower East Side. Famous companies began in the neighborhood – Domino Sugar, Corning Glass, and Pfizer Pharmaceutical, which kept a manufacturing facility here until 2007.
 
Today’s revival has Williamsburg as a fast-changing influential hub for fashion, music, food and art. Large spaces abandoned by industry now serve as residential lofts, art studios, performance spaces, galleries, and even a bowling alley. Fabulous murals now transform large blank walls on the street. Hotels have clustered together, with night spots and restaurants, drawing a young crowd. The waterfront has two parks, public art, and ferries from Manhattan for commuters and visitors.
 

Brooklyn Heights pictured

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.
 
Highlights include:
• 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