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TOUR SCHEDULE 6 tours listed  » Show Past Tours

 Saturday October 10
The prominent writer E. L. Doctorow was considered "one of America's greatest novelists" and was the recipient of numerous writing awards. Born in the Bronx, Doctorow – the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish extraction – was perhaps presciently named after the beloved Bronx writer, Edgar Allan Poe, whose home still stands not far from Doctorow’s own Bronx neighborhood of Mount Eden. Join with Urban Historian Jean Arrington and explore the Mount Eden neighborhood where E. L. Doctorow grew up. Explore Doctorow’s childhood memories and their impact on his career as a great American writer.

In his 1985 novel World's Fair about the Depression-Era Bronx, Doctorow states, "Every neighborhood had its school like my school, its movie, its street of shops built into the sides of the apartment houses; it was tunneled with subways and bound together with trolley lines, and elevated lines."

Jean Arrington writes: After hearing Doctorow give a reading from World's Fair, I was inspired to read the book. I was then inspired to read it again, underlining all the specific addresses and places. One Saturday morning I met a friend at the 174th Street stop on the D train, my list of places in hand: Doctorow's house at 1650 Eastburn Avenue, the apartment on the Grand Concourse they moved to during the Depression after his father's music business had failed, his school PS 70, the ovals in Mount Eden Avenue, the Surrey Theater where on Saturday mornings for a dime Edgar would see the newsreel, two feature films, a serial, and a cartoon, the public library on the forbidding Irish and Italian side of Webster Avenue, the sites of the lying-in hospital where he was born, the synagogue his grandmother attended, the drugstore where she bought for her asthma a “medicinal leaf legally available without a prescription.”

While delving into the author’s childhood memories, I discovered a small enclave of the Bronx that hadn't changed significantly since Doctorow had loved those streets as a little boy.

 Saturday October 31
Travel with Justin on the Staten Island Ferry for several remarkable experiences. Immediately upon arrival in Staten Island, we’ll travel by city bus for about ten minutes to our first destination: Snug Harbor. Originally known as Sailors' Snug Harbor, this impressive complex consists of a collection of architecturally significant 19th century buildings set in an 83-acre park along the Kill Van Kull waterfront on the north shore of Staten Island. United States. Today, the buildings and grounds of the former Sailors’ Snug Harbor are used by arts organizations under the umbrella of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

Amazingly, Snug Harbor includes an impressive array of 26 Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate, and Victorian buildings. The site is considered Staten Island's "crown jewel" and "an incomparable remnant of New York's 19th century seafaring past." Snug Harbor is a National Historic Landmark District.

While at Snug Harbor, Justin will lead a private tour of the Chinese Scholar’s Garden – an authentic Chinese garden designed in the ancient traditional style – with walls, rooms, bridges, reflecting pools, moon gates, waterfalls, and contemplative plaques with poems in Chinese. The building materials were all imported from China and the garden was constructed by a team of forty Chinese artists and artisans who came here from Suzhou in China – where these gardens can traditionally be found.

We’ll lunch on the grounds of Snug Harbor and then return by city bus to the Staten Island Ferry. Adjacent to the ferry terminal is the National Lighthouse Museum, where we will take a private tour of the collections and the site. The site was specifically selected for the National Lighthouse Museum because of its historic significance. The museum building was once the home of the United States Lighthouse Service Depot, which was established at this location on the New York Harbor in 1864.

We’ll take a private tour of this new museum and the site to discover more about the role of lighthouses in New York and in national history. Then, we will travel back to Manhattan by way of the Staten Island Ferry.

Tour fee includes all admissions.

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