Native New Yorker Walking Tours
pop. 1.58 million (2010 US Census estimate)
area: 23 square miles
Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights:
The Financial District: St. Paul’s Chapel, Ground Zero, Trinity Church, Wall Street, Charging Bull, Battery Park. Brooklyn Heights: Borough Hall, Montague Street, Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Historical Society, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims , Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn Bridge, on foot, back to Manhattan: City Hall Park, City Hall and the Surrogate's Court
Lower Manhattan is the the oldest quarter of the city. We’ll wander the twisting and narrow streets of lower Broadway, taking in its unique architectural heritage which has since become the financial district. We’ll pass the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall where George Washington was inaugurated first president of the United States, in its first capital, New York. We’ll observe the rebirth and reconstruction of Ground Zero, while visiting Manhattan’s oldest church: 18th century, St. Paul’s Chapel which became home to the heroic 911 rescuers who found comfort and solace during their many weeks of dangerous toil. We’ll pose and snap some photos of Arturo Di Modica’s “Charging Bull” and touch on a vestige of New York’s English heritage, Bowling Green. Through Battery Park, we will pass the embarkation point for the ferries to Liberty and Ellis Island and view several monuments.
Leaving New York’s first settlement, we’ll cross the East River by subway to Brooklyn Heights, termed New York’s first suburb. We’ll savor the relative quiet of this neighborhood with its distinctive brownstone residences and unsurpassed views of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park . We'll pass Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, last stop on slavery’s underground railroad. After a brief respite by the Old Fulton Street Ferry landing, we’ll cross the world renowned, Brooklyn Bridge on our way back to Manhattan with a glimpse of The Woolworth Building, New York’s tallest skyscraper in 1913, City Hall, City Hall Park, the Municipal Building and Surrogate's Court.
New York Public Library’s Research Libraries are the crown jewel of the New York Public Library system. Built in the beaux arts style, its elaborate interior and exterior decorations along with its rich collections is a world treasure. Bryant Park was once the site of the Crystal Palace, a parade ground and reservoir. Today, its well-manicured gardens, ice skating rink, restaurant and outdoor venue for movies and rock concerts also offer respite for midtown office workers as well as tourists.
Grand Central Terminal is a masterpiece of beaux arts architecture dating back to 1913. It is the largest railway terminal in the world with 44 tracks. Refurbished in the late 1990s, it is a prime example of how a large public space can be updated to serve contemporary transportation and retail needs without sacrificing its architectural integrity/heritage.
The former, Daily News building lobby houses the world’s largest indoor globe.
Tutor City is a unique, planned residential development in tutor revival style. Such a placid neighborhood right in the heart of midtown is remarkable and counterintuitive.
Tudor City’s neighbor, The United Nations, is a separate, political entity unto itself. Aside from its primary task of hosting the world forum, it has its own post office, and its gift shop sells many exotic items from around the world.
Sutton Place is home to Manhattan’s wealthy, whether residing in townhouses or luxury, high-rise co-ops. Its East River, waterfront, periphery represents one of the earliest - and highly successful - community preservation efforts undertaken in the 1940s. The dead-end streets overlooking The East River have unique and interesting public/private parks.
Originally conceived to facilitate travel from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan when the Island was redeveloped in the 1970s, The Roosevelt Island Tramway has since become a tourist attraction, rising 500 feet above the East River affording spectacular views of midtown during its three minute transit.
Upper East Side
Madison Avenue shops (80s), Central Park (The Ramble), Fifth Avenue, Museum Mile (Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection), Temple Emanu-el (Louis Tiffany windows), Delacorte Clock, Wolman Skating Rink and the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway
Along Madison Avenue in the 80s we will enjoy some of New York’s most fashionable boutiques. Central Park and its Ramble (73rd-79th Streets) is home to some 270 species of birds and is a natural refuge within the heart of the urban landscape.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection is world renown and is a part of “museum mile” which includes the Guggenheim Museum and The Frick C ollection and Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum York (former residence of Andrew Carnegie).
We will see Central Park's Delacorte Clock, Wolman Skating Rink and conclude our excursion with a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway.
Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center, Central Park South, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, theatre district, restaurant row, Herald Square
Rockefeller Center is a group of 14, art deco buildings built by John D. Rockefeller during The Great Depression. There are unique works of art surrounding the entrances of each building and in their lobbies. The shopping concourse is of the same period and may well have been a blue print for today's shopping malls -- but elegant and special in many ways.
Another component of Rockefeller Center is Radio City Music Hall, home to the Rockettes who perform during the holiday season.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is the centerpiece of an urban renewal project of the late 1950s, replacing slums with a complex of venues for the performing arts. It has recently undergone a significant revitalization including a 10,000 square-foot lawn atop a restaurant.
The Metropolitan Opera is world famous along with its two Marc Chagall murals which hang in the lobby. The Julliard School of Music is a world-famous music conservatory. Central Park South borders Central Park, a demarcation of the frenzy of midtown with the serenity of nature. Carnegie Hall is one of the most acoustically perfect concert venues in the world. Almost lost to the wrecking ball in the 1960s, it has achieved landmark status and has, as a result, been preserved for posterity. We walk down Seventh Avenue to the Crossroads of the World, Times Square, where Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street meet. A renaissance during the 1990’s has created a more vibrant - but somewhat - Disneyesque Times Square. The theatre district’s restaurant row is a great attraction to theatre goers in search of pre-show dining. Restaurant row’s brownstone, intimate dining places offer a tremendous variety in both décor as well as cuisine. We conclude with Herald Square and Macy’s, the largest department store in the world. At Christmas, Macy’s decorates its windows with fanciful scenes which have delighted many generations and is the setting for the Thanksgiving/Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street .
Greenwich Village East
Cooper Union, St. Mark’s Avenue, McSorley’s Old Alehouse, Merchant's House Museum, Tompkins Square Park
Cooper Union was established more than a century was a free college for engineering and the fine arts. It was in its auditorium that President Abraham Lincoln spoke. St. Mark’s Avenue is a marketplace for avant guard and counter-cultural products and ideas; we’ll pass McSorley’s Old Alehouse, one of the oldest drinking establishments in New York City. We will visit New York’s original Ukrainian-American community, including St. George's Church. For more than a century, Tompkins Square Park has been the scene of numerous labor and anti-war demonstrations. It has also been refuge for the homeless. The park now hosts musical events.
Greenwich Village West
Washington Square, the Mews, McDougal Street, Greenwich Avenue, West 8th Street, Hudson Street, Hudson River Park
The West Village is home to real New Yorkers and is often depicted in films. The West Village is affluent with quiet streets in comparison to the activity of the East Village. We’ll meander through the winding streets of the Village, taking in the unpredictable, spontaneous people and events who create the unique ambience in Washington Square. Washington Square Mews is a rich, quiet, private street of unique, converted carriage houses. Just beyond the gates of the Mews is the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirt Waist Company fire in which many, young, immigrant, Italian and Jewish women died. McDougal Street is home to several small jazz clubs. Bleecker Street, Greenwich Avenue and West 8th Streets form the commercial heart of the West Village. The many, small, unusual boutiques along these streets are perfect for window shopping. Stonewall Place is the site of the June 28, 1969 riots which sparked the gay rights revolution. As we walk toward the Hudson River Park, we will do some more window shopping along Hudson Street , making sure that we pass by the Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street ) made famous by the TV show, Sex and the City.
The area South of Houston Street - and north of Canal Street - received the acronym, SoHo, as a marketing gimmick of realtors.
By the 1960's, the area's commercial activity had declined, leaving abandoned lofts and warehouses in historic 19th century cast-iron buildings. Artists took avantage of bargain-basement rents and dirt-cheap real estate values to establish live-in studios in the district.
Once the neighborhood was "discovered" by more affluent groups, who succeeded in lobbying for the relaxing of the zoning laws, which at first prohibited use of the space for habitation, the creation of today's hip/trendy neighborhood was underway. While some artists remained in SoHo, many were forced out, instead, moving away from Manhattan to more affordable space in Williamsburg, Bushwick, Brooklyn - and beyond.
Today, approximately 250 so-called cast- iron buildings, the largest such grouping of its kind anywhere in the world, have been preserved.
We will walk the cobbled-stone streets of the district, enjoying the splended architecture, including St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, smart boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and chic ambience.
The Meatpacking District
Bordering The West Village is an area which once housed many slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities. Now, it is a trendy, area of fashion boutiques, restaurants and residences, achieving landmark preservation status. Its emergence as one of New York's most desirable neighborhoods, especially among the young, is symbolized by The High Line Park, a rail trail park. The creation of the park has sparked other development projects in the district.
Lower East Side
Religious sites/museums which can be visited include:
The 1927, New York City landmark synagogue, Congregation Kehila Kedosha Janina, a Romaniote Jewish congregation originally from Janina, Greece
Church of St. Mary with its magnificent dome
Convent Avenue, City College, Hamilton Terrace, 125 Street, Adam Clayton Powell Office Building, Apollo Theater, Grand Central Station.
Harlem is undergoing a transformation of historic proportions. We’ll compare the old with the new Harlems on this tour. Sugar Hill has always been a most desirable address in Harlem, and we will see why by examining a cluster of unique, brownstone residences which depict the early Dutch influence along Convent Avenue . From Hamilton Terrace, we’ll gain a bird’s eye view of Harlem stretching to the East River and Triborough Bridge. The City College of New York has its roots in the Free Academy, dating back to 1847. Its early 20th century, gothic revival architecture is reminiscent of other, great, private institutions of higher education. We will conclude our tour of Harlem by passing the Adam Clayton Powell Office Building and Bill Clinton’s foundation, and the Apollo Theater. We will return to midtown via MetroNorth Commuter Railroad to Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central Terminal is a masterpiece of beaux arts architecture dating back to 1913. It is the largest railway terminal in the world with 44 tracks. Refurbished in the late 1990s, it is a prime example of how a large public space can be updated to serve contemporary transportation and retail needs without sacrificing its architectural integrity/heritage
North Park: The Pool, The Loch, Secret Waterfall, Huddlestone Arch,The Ravine, Duck Island/Harlem Meer and Conservatory Garden (seasonal)
Mid Park: The Dakota Apartments, Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace, Bow Bridge, The Ramble – The Gill, Conservatory Water, Loeb Boathouse, Evodia Field bird feeders and Turtle Pond/Belvedere Castle
Dakota, Strawberry Fields, John Lennon Memorial, The Ramble, Belvedere Castle, Bow Bridge. The Dakota, a national landmark, dating back to 1884, is one of New York’s most famous apartment buildings. Many celebrities have resided in the Dakota including John Lennon, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Jose Ferrer, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, Rudolf Nureyev, Gilda Radner and Rex Reed. Strawberry Fields is named after an orphanage in Liverpool, England and Lennon’s memorial, bearing the name, was financed by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. Central Park and its Ramble (73rd-79th Streets) is home to some 270 species of birds and is a natural refuge within the heart of the urban landscape. Belvedere Castle is situated on the second, highest elevation in the park and is landscaped in the manner of an English landscape garden, complete with a Turtle Pond which has become home to many species of birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles. The castle houses a meteorological observatory which collects daily weather statistics for Central Park.
The Bow Bridge is a cast iron bridge. It is the ultimate, iconic, romantic image of Central Park portrayed in film.
Upper West Side
A part of Central Park, Broadway, Riverside Park, St. John the Divine, Columbia University, Pomander Walk, Zabar’s, Artie’s
The Upper West Side is a “real” New York neighborhood just minutes from midtown. We’ll get a taste of Broadway, its main commercial thoroughfare, passing such favorites as H and H Bagel, reputedly New York’s finest bagel maker, Zabar’s (a huge market specializing in imported food and showcased in films) , Artie’s, a popular Jewish-style delicatessen and Carmine’s, featured in many films. We will visit Riverside Park and the unique residences which line Riverside Drive, working our way uptown, viewing Pomander Walk, a private, street faithful to Georgian London, Columbia University and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, largest gothic cathedral in North America and still a work in progress after more than a century. We conclude our tour at Grant's Tomb and Riverside Church.
Washington Heights ("The Heights"}/Inwood/Ft.Tryon Park/The Cloisters/George Washington Bridge
This tour offers several options including a walk across the George Washington Bridge.
Brooklyn-Staten Island-Manhattan's Financial District (see Brooklyn listing for details)