One of NYC’s most beloved residents, this 7,100 lb. statue was literally dropped into Wall Street’s lap on a cold, blustery night in December, 1989. Now you can find fortune-seeking tourists every day lining up at the north end of Bowling Green to rub his head, horns, and the back parts to him that make him a bull and not a steer for good luck. To learn more about the “Charging Bull” and Bowling Green, take the Lower Manhattan River-to-River tour….
Standing at the “Crossroads of the World”—in the Great White Way—is the statue not of an entertainer (though there is one of those very close by!) but a man of the cloth: Father Francis Duffy, who served as chaplain to the 69th Infantry Regiment during WWI. This regiment was largely comprised of Irish-American New Yorkers and after the world, Father Duffy returned to minister to the same population in Hell’s Kitchen at the Holy Cross Church, the oldest structure along 42nd Street. To learn more about Fighting Father Francis Duffy and Hell’s Kitchen, take the 42nd Street River-to-River tour….
The Brooklyn Bridge
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry—
What inspired poet Hart Crane to reach such heights of ecstasy? Nothing less than one of the most awe-inspiring icons of NYC: the Brooklyn Bridge. It took 14 years to build, cost the lives of over two dozen people during construction and its opening, and was the site of a P.T. Barnum parade of 21 elephants crossing the East River! To learn more about the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City’s ever-changing waterfront, take the Lower Manhattan River-to-River tour….
The Netherland Memorial
A gift from the people of Holland, this memorial commemorates the legendary “purchase” of Manhattan by the Dutch provincial Director General Peter Minuit from the Lenape Indians who were the original inhabitants of this island; but what exactly was this transaction and where did it take place? To learn more about New Amsterdam and the Lenape, take the Lower Manhattan River-to-River tour….
The “News” Building globe
Mounted at the exact angle of Earth’s axis and rotating at the speed of the Earth’s rotation since 1930, this impressive globe in the lobby of The News Building was featured in Richard Donner’s Superman movies as the lobby to the Daily Planet, where Clark Kent and Lois Lane worked. To learn more about The News Building and its relationship to popular culture (not just Superman but Ayn Rand figures into the picture), take the 42nd Street River-to-River tour….
Tiffany Stained Glass Clock at Grand Central Terminal
Believe it or not, the stunning Beaux-Arts Grand Central Terminal (featuring the largest Tiffany stained-glass clock in the world) was actually threatened with demolition during the 1970s; but thanks to the sustained efforts of preservation activists like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, a court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court saved this architectural masterpiece for future generations to admire. To learn more about the features of Grand Central Terminal and how it relates to NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, take the 42nd Street River-to-River tour….
McSorley’s Old Ale House
Immortalized in an e.e. cummings poem:
“I was sitting in mcsorley's. outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.
Inside snug and evil. the slobbering walls filthily push witless creases of screaming warmth…”
this Irish-American mainstay has changed very little over the years (although a 1970 court decision finally forced the bar to welcome women patrons). A contender for one of the oldest drinking establishments in the city, McSorley’s has quenched the thirst of a steady stream of some of the most famous people to pass through the city, including Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Sloan, and Frank McCourt (among many others.) To learn more about the immigrant experience of Irish, German, and Jews in NYC, take the West Village/East Village River-to-River tour….
New York City Shield (on the International Mercantile Marine Company Building)
This is one of many NYC shields you will find throughout the city: in the middle is a windmill (after all, we were New Amsterdam before we were New York), on the top and bottom, two beavers (beaver pelts were a significant commodity in our early economy and an early source of John Jacob Astor’s massive fortune), and on the two sides, barrels of wheat (again, an early economic commodity). To learn more about the symbolism behind New York City insignia, take the Lower Manhattan River-to-River tour….
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
A city of tremendous accomplishments, New York has also had its share of tragedies that have indelibly impacted the city and the country. On March 25, 1911, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women were working in a sweatshop on the upper floors of the (unfortunately named) Asch Building when a fire broke out; by the end of the incident, 146 people would die because of prevalent labor practices and inadequate fire rescue procedures. This shocking incident would have long-lasting consequences on U.S. labor history and city fire codes. To learn more about important historical tragedies that have indelibly shaped New York’s identity, take the West Village/East Village River-to-River tour….
“Patience,” one of New York Public Library’s marble lions
The two Tennessee marble lions who guard the entrance to the New York Public Library’s Main Branch were given nicknames by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia: Patience and Fortitude, traits the mayor thought were cardinal virtues of New Yorkers and which would see them through the Great Depression. To learn more about New York City’s library system, take the 42nd Street River-to-River tour….
Landmarked Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City
In addition to the numerous stately buildings and structures throughout the city, New York City has some rather quirky landmarks including the Pepsi-Cola neon sign that stands along Long Island City’s waterfront. This 147-foot-tall sign was once atop a Queens bottling plant, but today it stands more-or-less opposite the United Nations. To learn more about the history of landmark preservation in NYC, take the 42nd Street River-to-River tour….
Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner Extraordinaire
One of the most controversial public figures in New York City’s history (and subject of Robert Caro’s monumental, Pulitzer-winning tome, Power Broker), Robert Moses had an undeniable impact (for better and worse) on how we all navigate New York’s highways, streets and parks or cross its bridges and through its tunnels. During his long career, he memorably sparred with a number of other prominent New Yorkers including Jane Jacobs (activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities), Joseph Papp (founder of the Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park), and even artist Andy Warhol. To learn more about Robert Moses and the various urban activists who sometimes challenged his power, take the West Village/East Village River-to-River tour….
Ticker-tape Parade up the “Canyon of Heroes”
Before changing NYC’s zoning laws in 1916, skyscrapers in the Financial District shot straight up from the property-line creating shadows that engulfed surrounding streets and buildings. The section of Broadway that runs through this shadowy section of Manhattan from Bowling Green to City Hall have been the site of over 200 ticker tape parades for various heroes, the latest on July 20, 2015 for the U.S. women’s national soccer team after winning the world cup. To learn more about the evolution of New York City’s zoning laws, take the Lower Manhattan River-to-River tour….
When the city extended Seventh Avenue south through Greenwich Village, they claimed eminent domain to clear way of buildings that obstructed their path. But land-surveyors overlooked a triangle of land owned by the estate of David Hess who subsequently refused to donate the tiny bit of overlooked land to the public and instead erected a defiant mosaic; can you spot it? To learn more about the push-and-pull of urban planning and community responses in New York City, take the West Village/East Village River-to-River tour….
West Side Cowboy along “Death Avenue”
Before there was the highly popular Highline Park, there was an elevated railway that brought cattle and produce to New York’s teeming population; and before there was that elevated railway, there was a line that ran at grade-level along 10th and 11th Avenues that many people tried to beat and cross before the approaching train reached them—often to their demise. And so for decades, urban cowboys with ten-gallon hats astride horses rode out before trains in an effort to prevent death and injury to pedestrians and those in cars; the last urban cowboy to gallop through the West Village was in 1941! To learn more about how the remarkable Highline Park came to be, take the West Village/East Village River-to-River tour….