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TOUR SCHEDULE (Featured Past Tours) 35 tours listed  » Show Upcoming Tours

 Saturday June 18
The Queens Museum structure was built as the New York City Building – to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair. The building was directly adjacent to the great icons of the Fair, the Trylon and Perisphere, and it was one of the few buildings created for the Fair that were intended to be permanent. It is now the only surviving building from the 1939 World’s Fair. One of the proudest periods in the history of the New York City Building was from 1946 to 1950 when it housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations. Today, that original building has been transformed. Join Justin as we tour some of the current exhibitions in this newly expanded Queens Museum. In addition, we’ll have the opportunity to view some of the museum’s several beloved ongoing exhibitions.

We will visit the Panorama of the City of New York – the jewel in the crown of the collection of the Queens Museum of Art.

Now on display in the new wing of the Queens Museum is the ever-beloved Egon and Hildegard Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass. The inaugural exhibition for the gallery is Shade Garden: Floral Lamps from the Tiffany Studios, which features 20 lamps exemplifying Tiffany’s masterful translation of nature into glass.

The Queens Museum will always be inextricably linked to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, and now on display is a collection of more than 10,000 objects pertaining to the two expositions.

After our visit to the Queens Museum, we’ll take a brief walking tour of this vibrant public space to learn about the remaining landmarks from the World’s Fairs, and the incredible history of two of New York’s most important cultural events.


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 Saturday June 4
Join Justin Ferate as we seek out monuments and memories of one of this nation’s greatest architects: Stanford White, while also focusing on White’s generous embracing of the works of his fellow artists. We’ll begin at the Renwick Triangle, to view the site where Stanford White was born. Traveling to Cooper Square, we’ll view the statue of Peter Cooper – a sculpture by White’s long-time friend, Augustus St. Gaudens with a neoclassical base and granite entablature designed by Stanford White. Moving westward, we’ll travel the byways of Greenwich Village to see White’s magnificent Italianate creation, Judson Memorial Church, complete with an Italian campanile (bell tower). We’ll also view and discuss the history of what is possibly Stanford White’s most beloved monument: Washington Arch, dedicated to the Inauguration of the first President of the United States.

En route, we’ll also discuss White’s inordinately active social life with buildings such as the Benedick (featured in Edith Wharton’s novel, House of Mirth), the Salmagundi Club, and the Tile Club, which was remodeled by White. We’ll also note the site of the 10th Street Studio Building, designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt in 1857 as the first modern artists’ studio building in the United States. This building was the center of New York’s art world (and the home base for many of Stanford White’s friends) throughout the remainder of the 19th century.

For a diversion, we’ll also view the home of Lockwood de Forest and the adjacent Ava, which was once home to the beloved Greenwich Village writer Dawn Powell. The buildings are replete with exquisite East Indian teak carvings conceived and executed for Lockwood de Forest, a prominent decorator and associate of Louis Comfort Tiffany (and, of course, a friend of Stanford White). These two structures are an absolute delight for the eye!

We’ll also discover the Church of the Ascension, designed in 1840 by noted architect Richard Upjohn (Trinity Church Wall Street). During the years 1885-1889, Stanford White hired a group of artists in redesigning the church’s interiors. John La Farge created the immense altar mural – one of the finest in the nation. Other details were by Louis St. Gaudens, David Maitland Armstrong, and Charles Follen McKim. The church is truly a Stanford White ensemble!

Come join us! There’s much more to see on this jaunt as we discover some of the New York’s great treasures by Stanford White and his friends!

 Saturday April 30
Discover the antiquities of the Fordham University Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art with tour leader Justin Ferate. Located in the William D. Walsh Family Library, the antiquities museum occupies 4,000 square feet of space on the main floor of the Library. It features more than 260 antiquities dating from the 10th century BCE through the 3rd century CE. The collection spans several periods, Mycenaean, Villanovan, Classical Greece, Geometrical, Archaic Roman, Imperial Roman, Republican, Etruscan, and South Italian. There are red-figure and red-and-black-figure ceramics, and the shiny black Etruscan pottery known as Bucchero, as well as an array of sculpture and terra cotta heads.

Delight in a stroll through the jewel-like splendor of the Fordham University campus. Today, Fordham, with its shaded green lawns and it handsome Gothic structures, is one of the largest Roman Catholic institutions in America. In the 1840s, Fordham University was called “St. John’s College” and the clarion bells from its main tower inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Bells.” We’ll visit the 19th century quadrangle of the original St. John’s College campus and visit the magnificent St. John’s Chapel. Contributing to the richness of the interior and relieving the simplicity of the exterior are stained glass windows donated by King Louis Philippe of France. The present altar, Installed in 1943, came from St. Patrick's Cathedral on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, where it had served for over sixty years.

Then, almost by surprise, we’ll be in Italy…. well, almost. Belmont is often considered to be New York’s most authentic working class Italian neighborhood. It’s like the back streets of Naples, the eastern neighborhoods of Rome, or the tenements behind Milan Cathedral. Belmont is a unique neighborhood that was the first home to tens of thousands of Italian immigrants and has maintained its unique flavor for almost one hundred years. Indeed, the aroma of fresh bread wafts in the air as clean laundry hangs out to dry. Markets are abundant with fresh vegetables, fruits, and bunches of fresh oregano – along with mounds of olives and piñoli nuts. Be dazzled by the array of Italian cheeses, including freshly made mozzarella. Stroll through the salumerias, bakeries, and pasta shops.

Lunch at one of the dining venues or visit Belmont’s popular pastry shops and espresso bars. Perhaps you’ll hear the church bells of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Somewhere in the distance, amidst the murmur of Italian conversation in the restaurant, you may even hear the warm, romantic sounds of Dion and the Belmonts, crooning on a nearby street corner. Ciao bella!

IMPERATIVE: Photo ID will be required to enter the Fordham Campus. Don’t forget!

 Saturday April 16
The site of the General Grant National Memorial was an important site in the American Revolution. High on a promontory, overlooking the Hudson River, it was here that President George Washington had envisioned building the United States Capitol. Join tour leader Justin Ferate as we discover this romantic Parisian-inspired neighborhood, conceived by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted to be the pivotal sight on their grand Parisian-style thoroughfare, Riverside Drive.

We’ll begin our tour with a visit to the Columbia University campus, designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. We’ll view the iconic Low Library and the beloved statues of Alma Mater, by Daniel Chester French and The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. If available, we hope to visit St. Paul’s Chapel, with its splendid Guastavino vaulted ceilings and magnificent stained glass windows by John La Farge. As we stroll the neighborhood, we’ll discuss institutions such as Barnard College, Teachers College, and Union Theological Seminary. We’ll visit and explore Grant’s Tomb – modeled after Les Invalides in Paris – the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Discover the International House New York, a private, non-profit residence and program center oriented to international graduate students, scholars engaging in research, trainees, and interns. Founded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to foster international communications, the informal daily interaction among its 700 international residents, from over 100 countries, combine with specially designed programs, facilities and residential life to foster diversity of thought and experience. International House has been known to attract prominent guest speakers through the years, from Eleanor Roosevelt and Isaac Stern to Sandra Day O'Connor and Nelson Mandela.

Adjacent to International House is another Rockefeller bequest: Sakura Park (“sakura” means “cherry blossom” in Japanese), the site of Japan's original gift of cherry trees to New York City in 1912. (Hopefully, they’ll be in bloom!) In 1960, the City of Tokyo gave the gift of a tōrō lantern, when New York became her sister city. Former Crown Prince and current Emperor of Japan, Akihito, attended the official dedication on October 10 of that year. Crown Prince Akihito would later rededicate the tōrō with his princess in 1987.

We’ll also view a little-known bronze statue of General Daniel Adams Butterfield by the noted sculptor Gutzon Borglum (of Mount Rushmore fame). The statue is oriented toward Grant's Tomb across Riverside Drive positioning Butterfield to view the tomb of his fellow Civil War general and the president in whose cabinet he served. General Butterfield experimented with bugle calls for his troops and is credited with the composition of “Taps.”

 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.

 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.

 Sunday May 31
FERRY, SUBWAY & WALKING TOUR: Join Justin Ferate as we travel the length of Staten Island to discover vestiges of the island’s rich past. Meet at the Manhattan Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry and travel across New York's Harbor, on an historic ferry journey initiated by a young Staten Islander, one Cornelius Van Der Bilt.

Once on Staten Island, we'll travel overland on SIR (Staten Island Railway) to the end of the line: Tottenville. The SIR train line was once the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and is now operated by the MTA. Tottenville was once the major New York ferry connection for Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The village still has unusual remnants of its maritime past. We'll see 19th Century houses of ship's captains and Victorian country villas. There's even a library by Carrère & Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library! We’ll make a special visit to Tina Kaasman-Dunn ‘s delightful home – an enchantingly restored 19th century gentleman’s country estate in the style of A. J. Downing. We’ll also view the Henry Biddle Mansion, a NYC Landmark Greek Revival mansion built circa 1850. The front and rear facades are identical, each boasting of a magnificent two-story portico – one of which overlooks the waterfront.

As special treat, we will tour Conference House, the 1680s stone house built by British naval officer, Captain Christopher Billop. At an unsuccessful peace conference here, during the American Revolution, the British government proposed to provide "clemency and full pardon to all repentant rebels." The unrepentant rebels (represented at the conference by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge) did not agree to the conditions offered and the War for Independence continued. Had this conference gone otherwise, the United States might still be part of Great Britain today.

 Sunday May 24
BUS TOUR: Take a summertime journey up the Hudson River. We have made special arrangements to visit Val-Kill, the very private “snuggery” of Eleanor Roosevelt. Commemorate the life and work of this outstanding woman in American history. Discover more about the humanitarian concerns to which she devoted her considerable intellect.

At Noon, we will tour Springwood, the lifelong home of Franklin D. Roosevelt – America’s only 4-term President. After the tour, time will be allotted for picnic lunches and to visit the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, operated by the National Archives. Stroll the grounds, walk the trails of this 300-acre site, or view the gravesites of Franklin, Eleanor, and their beloved Scottie dog “Fala,”

At 3:30 PM, we will tour the Frederick Vanderbilt Mansion, a grand architectural representation of the era Mark Twain called "The Gilded Age." McKim, Mead and White designed the handsome neoclassical mansion in 1898. In 1906, Whitney Warren, the Vanderbilt relative who co-designed Grand Central Terminal, made final alterations to the mansion.

The mansion remains much as it was – sited on 600 acres – purchased because of Mr. Vanderbilt’s love of horticulture. The beautiful grounds include walking trails, formal gardens, and a spectacular view of the Hudson River. Until the 1930s, lavish parties and balls were held here in the summer and fall. Guests were drawn from America's wealthiest families and European nobility. The mansion required a staff of seventeen workers, including Hyde Park townspeople. The mansion’s own farm provided the meats, fruits, and vegetables for the larder.

If time permits, we’ll also visit St. James Church, an important spiritual anchor for the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt families and the site selected by President Roosevelt for his funeral service.

Please bring your own Picnic Lunch with beverage. There are no food services on site.
You may want to bring a snack or beverage for the bus ride.

 Sunday October 19
This very unusual comprehensive tour – conducted by Shulamith “Shuli” Berger from the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy – will focus on the distinctive history and contemporary Jewish community of Washington Heights. Shuli is the Curator of Special Collections at the Yeshiva University Library and a Washington Heights resident.

Our tour will begin on the campus of Yeshiva University. The inauguration, in 1928, of an imposing Moorish Revival building on Amsterdam Avenue (architects Charles B. Meyers and Henry Beaumont Herts) finalized YU's relocation from the overcrowded, impoverished neighborhood of the Lower East Side to the then bucolic Washington Heights. We will tour this dynamic, urban campus.

Making our way west, we will view the major facilities of K'hal Adath Jeshurun, (1939) – known locally as “Breuer’s” – a unique German-tradition kehilla (centralized religious community) on Bennett Avenue. We will discuss the legacy of Rabbi Sampson Raphael Hirsch who, in 1851, founded the original kehilla that bore this name in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. After Kristallnacht (November 10, 1938) Rabbi Hirsch’s grandson, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer, came to Washington Heights and revived the spiritual traditions on these shores.

Our tour will also include Mount Sinai Jewish Center, an Orthodox Ashkenazi congregation that includes, along with its older long-time members, many congregants in their 20s and 30s.

Our next stop will be Chabad of Washington Heights, the most recent addition to communal life in Washington Heights. We’ll then take a possibly unexpected elevator ride to the top of the bluff to Bennett Park. Built on the site of Fort Washington, from which the Continental Army delayed the advance of British troops in 1776, the park was named for James Gordon Bennett, Sr. – the newspaper publisher who launched the New York Herald in 1835. Bennett Park is located at the highest natural point in Manhattan.

Tour concludes with viewing of the Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation, founded in 1906 and housed in a dramatic Art Deco building. For those who want to end the tour with a “nosh” – Justin will make a special post-tour stop at Gideon’s Kosher Bakery !

 Sunday December 2
High atop Manhattan Island, the Cloisters house the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of art and architecture from medieval Europe. Best known for the beautiful tapestries on display, the Cloisters also offer architectural installations and fantastic views of the Hudson River. Join Justin for this special tour of this remarkable institution.

Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park (previously designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as a summer estate), the building incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters – quadrangles enclosed by a roofed or vaulted passageway, or arcade – and from other monastic sites in southern France. Three of the cloisters reconstructed at the branch museum feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals. Approximately five thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from about A.D. 800 with particular emphasis on the twelfth through fifteenth century, are exhibited in this unique and sympathetic context.

In celebration of the Christmas holidays, the Cloisters will also be decorated with appropriate Medieval ornamentation for the season. Weather permitting, we’ll stroll Fort Tryon Park, the site of an American Revolutionary fort and later the summer estate of newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett. Ask Justin about the owl!

 Monday November 19
FREE Book-Signing with Dr. Gerard Wolfe:
Join Gerard Wolfe, the founder of the Wolfe Walkers, for this very special book-signing event!

It has often been said that nowhere in the United States can one find a greater collection of magnificent and historic synagogues than on New York's Lower East Side. As the ultimate destination for millions of immigrant eastern European Jews during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it became the new homeland and hoped-for goldene medinah (promised land) for immigrants fleeing persecution, poverty, and oppression, while struggling to live a new and productive life. Yet to many visitors and students today these synagogues are shrouded in mystery, as documentary information on them tends to be dispersed and difficult to find.

With The Synagogues of New York's Lower East Side, Gerard R. Wolfe fills that void, giving readers unparalleled access to the story of how the Jewish community took root on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Using archival photographs taken by Jo Renée Fine and contemporary shots taken by Norman Borden alongside his text, Wolfe focuses on the synagogues built or acquired by eastern European Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants during the great era of mass immigration, painting vivid portraits of the individual congregations and the new and vital culture that was emerging. For many, the Lower East Side became the portal to America and the stepping-stone to a new and better life. Today, the synagogues in which these immigrants worshiped remain as a poignant visual reminder of what had become the largest Jewish community in the world.

Originally published in 1978, The Synagogues of New York's Lower East Side became the authoritative study of the subject. Now completely revised and updated, the book incorporates new text, photographs, and maps, along with an invaluable glossary. Published by Fordham University Press, Wolfe's book is an essential and accessible source for those who want to understand the varied and rich history of New York's Lower East Side and its Jewish population. Its readable and illuminating view into the diversity of synagogues – large and small, past and present – and their people makes this book ideal for teachers, students, museum educators, and general readers as well.


 Saturday November 10
TOUR CLOSED Ferry & Bus Tour: Join Justin at Manhattan’s Staten Island Ferry Terminal to begin this discovery tour of the new Freshkills Park! In Staten Island, we’ll meet a special bus and a member of the New York City Parks Department who will take us on this very unusual adventure. At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park will be almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. James Corner of Field Operations, the same firm that created the stunning landscape designs for the High Line, produced the master plan to guide the long-term development of Freshkills Park.

The full build–out will continue in phases for the next 30 years, with development over the next several years focused on providing public access to the interior of the site and showcasing its unusual combination of natural and engineered beauty. While nearly 45 percent of the site was once used for landfill, the remainder of the site is currently composed of wetlands, open waterways, and unfilled lowland areas. The tops of the landfill mounds themselves offer spectacular vistas of the expansive site, as well as views of Lower Manhattan.

When completed the 2,200 acres of open space will host restored maritime forests, dry prairies with chestnut trees, and swampland that will be home to many species of marine animals and birds. Very few urban parks compare in size to what Fresh Kills will become. The park will support a wide range of activities from mountain biking and kayaking to cross country skiing and all manner of field sports.

Freshkills Park is a fascinating and inspiring project that weaves together a series of unusual issues and disciplines: ecology, landfill infrastructure, urban planning and landscape architecture, public art, land reclamation, sustainability, renewable energy, and New York City history. This will undoubtedly prove to be an informative and eye-opening tour!

TOUR IS LIMITED TO 23 PARTICIPANTS. Please read attached WW brochure for additional information.

 Saturday October 6
Few are aware of the role of African Americans in the history of Lower Manhattan. Even fewer are aware that in 1612, a freeman of African and Portuguese descent, Joao “Jan” Rodrigues, became the first non-native settler on the island of Manhattan. In 1626, the later Dutch settlers brought Africans to New Amsterdam as slaves. By 1711, roughly 1/6 of New York’s residents were black – most enslaved and some free. During the tour, we’ll visit such noted sites as New York’s slave market, the site of the slave revolt of 1712, the notorious “Five Points” district, Abolitionist-related sites, the New York African Free School, the site of African Society for Mutual Relief and the site of Freedom’s Journal, the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the nation.

In addition, from the 1690s until the 1790s, both free and enslaved Africans were interred in a burial ground in Lower Manhattan, beyond the boundaries of New Amsterdam. Built over by development, the cemetery was officially “rediscovered” in 1991. Our tour will include a visit to the new African Burial Ground Memorial – dedicated to those who are buried in this hallowed ground.

During the tour, we’ll encounter such people as Joseph François Mangin, designer of New York’s City Hall and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint – a candidate for Roman Catholic sainthood. We’ll address and visit noted religious sites associated with the black community: John Street Methodist Church, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Mother AME Zion, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church. We’ll also discover overlooked heroes and heroines. Learn of Elizabeth Jennings who, in 1854, successfully sued to eliminate racial discrimination for New York’s public transit. Discover Dr. James McCune Smith, the first licensed African American doctor in the country. Learn of the New York connections for Frederick Douglass, the most famous African American of the 19th century – often called the “father of the Civil Rights movement.”

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