(Please note: we get out of the bus as much as possible.)
A Slice of the Apple
New York is just a bunch of neighborhoods right next to each other (as described in Walking Tours). Historic trends, architectural styles, outdoor art and gossipy tidbits are explored, along with tips on surviving in this people-packed environment. Local characters are seen up close. If you like, a tasting of one of the city's culinary "delicacies" adds a bit of your own personal flavor.
A "skycraper" in the eighteenth century meant a small triangular sail set above the sky-sail of a square-rigged ship. Today's skyscraper is a tall building fitted with a steel skeleton and equipped with an elevator. Skyscraper masterpieces dot New York's skylines, of which there are two, firmly imbedding the notion of height to the city's visual identity.
Many Faces and Cultures of New York
From our colonial days to the present, the city has welcomed immigrants. Within blocks of each other diverse nationalities coexist. It's easy to go from "el barrio" to Little Italy to Chinatown to the "shtetl" simultaneously watching a Korean grocer sell his produce, an Indian news dealer pile his papers, and a Dominican sewing machine operator rethread her needle.
Landmarks and Historic Districts
Landmarks are structures built by individuals who themselves have their own unique stories. The buildings as well as historic districts, reflect elements of New York's architectural, economical, political, historical and cultural history. A landmarked building may be a public bath reflecting the era before indoor plumbing. An historic district may be the West Village with its intact feel of a 19th century village.
Around 1900 Harlem, originally an all-white neighborhood, replaced the West Side as the main African-American settlement in Manhattan. By the 1920s with the jazz era, African American artists, writers, actors and musicians congregated in Harlem. Their cultural legacy is still renown, yet this former suburb also has vast numbers of architectural gems worthy of note.
Rockefeller's New York
Generosity is never inappropriate and the Rockefeller family has exemplified this with such wonders as Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Center and the Paul Dunbar Apartments in Harlem. Fort Tryon Park, home of the Cloisters, was developed with Rockefeller funds. Land was given to the United Nations under Rockefeller auspices. Rockefeller money created the Asia Society and was a catalyst for Lincoln Center.
A Movie Lover's Tour
The first movie theaters in the city were actually storefronts at the end of the 19th century. The first movie palace was the Regent Theater built in 1913 in Harlem. It's still standing but it's now used as a church. The first talking feature film--in part--was "The Jazz Singer" in 1927. The first all-talking movie was, most fittingly "Lights of New York" premiering at the Strand Theater in 1928.
The Skyline at Night
The Statue of Liberty's lighted 22 carat gold torch set against a darkened sky is a sight to behold. The historic boats in the East River, pitched against the Brooklyn skyline, remind you of centuries past. The Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, act as sklyine foils for the 59th Street Bridge, The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Downtown or midtown, if lights attest, the city never sleeps.
Holiday Lights in December
You may touch the topiary at Tavern on the Green, or stare in disbelief at Barney's off-beat Christmas windows, or calculate the size of the snowflake floating across Fifth Avenue. Yet the Christmas tree at Rockefeller is a must, along with the animals at the Palace Hotel and the famed windows at Lord and Taylor. To some though, it's the New York Stock Exchange with its own tree and lighted facade that captures the spirit of the season.
Historic Homes Along the Hudson River Valley
The Hudson River in the 19th century experienced the steamboat with great estates, many owned by those who also had residence in Manhattan, appearing on both sides of the banks of the river. New cities arose, trade flourished, and the painters set out their impressions of the valley. Many of these homes are now public institutions, with great families either dying or retreating from view, leaving the Hudson River still a mainstay of the city's greatness.