A Partial List of New York City Tours
Most of our public tours can be done for private groups, so don’t hesitate to ask about a public tour that you believe would appeal to your group.
The Past and Future of the World Trade Center Site
Join us as we study the World Trade Center site, talk about the history of the area and the remaining buildings, and consider current developments. WTC #7 by David Childs of SOM is completed, the Freedom Tower is now rising above ground and Calatrava’s PATH station is changing. Our goal is to look at things in a systematic and historically informed manner, to gain some perspective, and stay up-to-date on planning proposals.
Downtown: Skyscrapers and More
While downtown New York is famed for its vertiginous canyons formed by its towering skyscrapers, it is also rich in history and art. We have tours that offer a variety of perspectives on the historic heart of New York City. One examines skyscraper development in Lower Manhattan while showing off early towers, Art Deco gems and great works of modernism. Another takes a more intimate view of downtown, taking you into the area’s nooks and crannies.
TriBeCa presents a superb display of 19th-century commercial architecture in marble, sandstone, brick and cast iron. We will discuss how the neighborhood was transformed from New York’s first residential area into a bustling commercial center, then into a manufacturing district. Finally, we will look at TriBeCa today: a neighborhood that’s come full circle and is, once again, one of New York’s most fashionable neighborhoods to live in.
Until very recently, the future of Gansevoort Market, one of Manhattan’s oldest food markets, seemed very much up for grabs. The art market, the co-op market, and proposed new apartment houses and hotels threatened to overwhelm this very special place. Thanks to a major push by the area’s residents, however, the city designated Gansevoort Market a historic district in September 2003. On this walk, we will consider the district’s past and present, and the impact of the new High Line Park created from an abandoned elevated railway.
Grand Central Terminal
The Municipal Art Society has been giving tours of this magnificent Beaux-Arts landmark for more than a quarter-century, and in 1978 played an important part in its preservation. Join us for a tour that includes the history of the terminal as well as a look at the major restoration completed ten years ago
Grand Central Terminal was built as part of a much larger commercial development involving the reclamation of many acres that had been occupied by tracks and train yards. Explore the great “air rights” development of the neighborhood around Grand Central, and briefly visit inside the terminal to see what’s left of New York’s grandest urban ensemble.
Open railroad tracks stretched across Park Avenue until the construction of Grand Central Terminal in the early 20th century, preventing development of the area. Follow the avenue from Grand Central up to 54th Street, and learn of its relationship to the terminal, to landmarks like St. Bartholomew’s Church and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and to modern icons such the Seagram Building and Lever House.
Midtown Manhattan has seen more than its fair share of landmark battles. On this walk we consider the landmark rationale and battle history of the Villard Houses, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building and the Ford Foundation.
Midtown Manhattan is best known as New York’s central business district. It is also, however, home to distinctive buildings in a potpourri of architectural styles from the 20th and 21st centuries. Our tour focuses on New York’s greatest Art Deco hits, including the spectacular and beautifully restored General Electric Building, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Rockefeller Center. Or, if your taste is more post-modern, take a tour that addresses the present and near future, including the Austrian Cultural Forum, the American Folk Art Museum, and the recent expansion of the Museum of Modern Art.
From 43rd to 59th Streets, Fifth Avenue is a place of often-surprising architectural diversity and quality, an avenue that evolved from a posh 19th-century residential area to a major 20th-century commercial center. We will discuss this area’s architecture from its 19th-century days of residences, clubs and churches to its present incarnation with skyscrapers, hotels and department stores.
Rockefeller Center – New York’s urbane urban wonderland – is full of surprising history, remarkable art and stunning architecture. Explore the past, present and future of this 1930s Art Deco monument, including its architecture, planning, art and personalities.
Central Park is a wonderland throughout the year. In each season, one can see things not visible the rest of the time. Winter is the time to see the park with bare-limbed trees etching beautiful patterns against the sky. In spring, the flowers bloom, and we will consider the park’s plantings. In the summer the park is a verdant oasis in the heart of the hot city, and autumn is time to see the leaves change. Any month, though, take a close look at the park’s structures, the spectacular Terrace with its intricate carvings, the bridges, “Literary Walk,” the Conservatory Water, the Obelisk, and much more.
Sculpture in Central Park
Olmsted & Vaux’s great creation was intended to provide the delights of nature in the midst of the teeming metropolis. Its one formal element, the Mall and Terrace, was meant to be a place of sculpture, but later park “improvers” put statues all over the place. Some are great, some good, some awful. We will see which is which.
Upper East Side (North of 59th Street & East)
Walk through one of Manhattan’s most prestigious and architecturally distinctive neighborhoods, viewing palatial townhouses, private clubs, apartment houses and cultural institutions associated with Doris Duke, F.W. Woolworth, Leo Castelli, J.P. Morgan, Brooke Astor, Andy Warhol, and the city’s 108th mayor.
Upper West Side (North of 59th Street & West)
Discover the Upper West Side’s design and planning history. Containing a vast historic district, the neighborhood has a rich history as more than just a residential neighborhood. See highlights like Central Park West’s stately 19th-century apartment buildings and an inventive group of row houses.
Touring Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (125th Street)
Renamed for the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. over 20 years ago, this historic Harlem thoroughfare has numerous connections to his life and the neighborhood’s African American political and cultural history. Tour the revitalized corridor from Lenox Avenue to Manhattanville and to the Harlem piers at the Hudson River. Why only read about Harlem when you can see the economic and physical changes for yourself?
Just north of Harlem, Hamilton Heights was originally the estate of Alexander Hamilton. The 1880s produced some of New York’s most spectacular row houses and several magnificent churches; this remains one of the city’s most beautiful residential communities.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Since its opening in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge has been one of the greatest symbols of New York, as well as ranking as one of the greatest triumphs of 19th-century engineering and building art. Walk across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, on a wooden promenade above the traffic, discussing the bridge itself, its impact on the two cities of New York and Brooklyn, and the many wondrous sights visible from the bridge.
Discover America’s first suburb, Brooklyn Heights, and its outstanding collection of 19th century buildings. Just one subway stop beyond the canyons of Wall Street, we’ll explore its shaded, tree-lined streets and consider how this remarkable residential enclave has been preserved and perfected.
One of the most attractive residential neighborhoods on the Eastern Seaboard, Park Slope has also become one of the most popular places to live in New York City. Discover why on a walk among leafy streets featuring a beguiling, first-rate assortment of 19th-century row houses as well as churches and the finest grouping of late 19th-century civic art in America.