Updated July 2005
Places, Tidbits, and Gossip That Even New York's Cognoscenti Don't
8th Street Walking Tour
And what exactly will you discover? How about the site of Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady recording studio, Jack Kerouac's local haunts, and Edward Hopper's home? Gossip dished by guide Arthur Marks.
Selected Saturdays from May through October at 11:30 a.m.; tour lasts an hour and a half
Meet at the northwest corner of St. Marks Pl. and Second Ave.; 212-777-2173; villagealliance.org
Old, Something New
Orchard Street Walking Tour
Get a taste of the bustling Lower East Side, from past to present. Hit the former Municipal Public Bath House; the First Romanian-American Congregation; Salwen Umbrella, the City's only remaining umbrella shop (you know you want to see it); and the fishy Russ and Daughters.
Sundays at 11 a.m., April through December; tour lasts about an hour and a half
Meet at Katz's Delicatessen, 205 East Houston St. at Ludlow St.; 212-226-9010; lowereastsideny.com
Me the Money
The Federal Reserve Bank
Itching for an insider's peek at the world's richest bank? The Fed's free tour will take you five stories underground into their gold vaults, demystify how the Bank functions, and let you test your new knowledge at Fedworks, an interactive, multimedia center. You'll even pocket some (shredded) money at the tour's end. Call to make a reservation at least a week in advance and don't be late as security procedures are lengthy.
Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.; tour lasts one hour
33 Liberty St., btw. Nassau and William Sts.; 212-720-6130; newyorkfed.org
For an in-depth look at the science of beer mixing, take a free tour of this stylish Williamsburg brewhouse. A fresh beer sample to finish off the day! (Tour is all ages; sample for those 21+ only.)
Saturdays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.; tour lasts 30 minutes
79 North 11 St., btw. Berry and Wythe Sts.; 718-486-7422; brooklynbrewery.com
on the River
John J. Harvey Fireboat
Spend the afternoon cruising New York Harbor for free on board the historic Harvey. Ooh, ahh, and get soaked as the historic boat's brass cannons shoot water into majestic 200-foot arcs at the rate of 18,000 gallons a minute. Launched in 1931, the swift and powerful boat was brought out of retirement in the aftermath of 9/11.
Check their website for "irregular but frequent" tour offerings; tour length varies; for reservations, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pier 63 Maritime, The Hudson River at West 23rd St.; fireboat.org
Battery Park City Walking Tours
Want to hear about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees? Let a Battery Park City Parks Conservancy horticulturist take you for a garden stroll or join one of their fall bird walks -- over eighty types of birds spotted to date. Free tours devoted to nature, art, and history sponsored from May through October.
For tour dates visit their website; tour length varies
Meeting place varies, call for details; 212-267-9700; bpcparks.org
Grand Central Station
You've gazed at Grand Central's celestial ceiling, now take note of symbolic mythological figures, sculptures, and other architectural details lurking throughout the Beaux Arts landmark. The Municipal Art Society's long-running tour is light on gossip, heavy on design, urban planning, and historical preservation. Donation requested.
Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m.; tour lasts about an hour and a half
Meet in front of the information booth, main level of Grand Central Station; 212-935-3960; mas.org (website includes listings of other tours priced between $10 to $15)
the Spirit Moves You
Trinity Church Tour
Visit the graves of Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, and other historical figures as you roam through Trinity Churchyard. The tour also stops by the Church Museum where you can view art and artifacts dating back to the 1600s.
Every day at 2 p.m.; tour lasts fifteen to twenty minutes
Broadway and Wall Sts; 212-602-0800; trinitywallstreet.org
Years, 13 Tours
The free tours are a baker's dozen more reasons to be thankful for Manhattan's 843-acre backyard. Explore the nooks and crannies of the North Woods, designed to replicate the Adirondack Mountains; learn about the innovative architecture of the Dakota and Bethesda Terrace; tour the Harlem Meer, high ground crucial to the City's defense during the American Revolution; or pick from 10 other options.
For tour schedules, visit their website; tours last about one hour
212-360-2726 (tour hotline); centralparknyc.org
At the Crossroads
Times Square Tour
Times Square wasn't always the overwhelming, Disney-laden spectacle it is today. This free tour looks back at the neighborhood's colorful, gritty past.
Fridays at noon; tour lasts about one hour
Meet at the Times Square Visitors Center, 1560 Broadway, between 46th and 47th Sts; 212-869-1890; timessquarenyc.org
Note: The 34th Street Historic Walking Tour is no longer offered and has been removed from this story.