Podcast & Blog

  1. Spotlight on GANYC Guide: Lady Altovise

    Introducing GANYC guide Lady Altovise

    Instagram / YouTube

    Phone #: 212-464-7792

    Email

    ===========================

    How long have you been a tour guide?

    13 years.

    What time of year would you consider your busy season?

    Spring Break - Birding Season.

    What types of tours do you offer?

    Walking Tours through Manhattan neighborhoods-- History of Gospel Tour and the music it influenced, Soul Food Tours, Harlem Renaissance Tours, African American Diaspora Tour.

    Do you offer Niche Tours?

    History of Gospel Tour and the music it influenced... is a walking tour that concludes with an musical production in a theatre with a live band and and gospel choir, Soul Food Championship... is a food tour  featuring soul food items with a county fair theme, i.e. Blue ribbon winners of BBQ ribs, Fried Chicken, Sweet potato pie, etc, African Diaspora Tour of Black settlements in Manhattan from 1680's thru today.

    Have you or your company been featured  in print, broadcast or online media?

    Yes, see my YouTube channel for videos on: History of Gospel Harlem Tour, Soul Food and Gospel Music experience.

    What drove you to become a tour guide?

    My son was offered a free trip to Egypt if he took 3 tours ranging in duration from 1 hour, 1 day, 1 weekend. In doing so, I was like...HEY, I can do this! Id be great! Its just like acting. The history is the script, the tourist are the audience, and NYC is my stage!

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    The children that tell me things they learned on my tour and plan to talk about it in SHOW & TELL.

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization? 

    Mariah, reality creator/producer/and star of Married To Medicine, Trayvon Martin's entire family took my tour. Central Park 5 also.

    What special deals, sales, events or promotions are you offering to GANYC Followers and our industry partners and their customers?

    Buy 1 get 1 free, free dessert of your choice at Sylvia's World Famous Soul Food Restaurant.

    How long have you been a member of GANYC?

    1 year.

    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?

    CitySights Double Decker Union meeting.

    How has GANYC helped you and your business?

    Great reputation, has gotten my foot into many doors.

    What's your advice or Tour Guide tip you love to share to people visiting New York?

    Starbucks & Museums will allow you to use the restroom! Also The "BLUE A" grading system for surprise inspections.

  2. Spotlight on GANYC Guide: Julia Ryan

    Introducing GANYC guide Julia Ryan of her own company: Born and Bred NY Tours

    Website: Born and Bred NY Tours

    Email

    Phone #: 917-405-8086

    Social Media: Facebook / Instagram
    =================================


    How long have you been a tour guide?

    Over 20 years.

    What types of tours do you offer?

    As a native daughter of this great city, I have so many personal accounts about life and trends through the years. As a historian and storyteller, I am always putting the places we are visiting or the events we are witnessing into the context of the city's birth and growth through the years. The tours I offer are classic city coach tours and specialized neighborhood walking tours (The High Line & Meatpacking, Harlem, Upper West Side, Central Park, Fifth Ave, Flatiron District, Times Square & Theatre District, Immigrants of the Lower East Side, Wall Street Financial District, 9/11 Memorial WTC and Hudson Waterfront, DUMBO, Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island and an Alexander Hamilton Tour). I also specialize in educational tours and have designed many workshops and supportive study materials for clients around a particular subject or theme.

    Do you offer Niche Tours?

    I am happy to customize tours for clients and have done so in various ways for several years.

    What time of year would you consider your busy season? 

    Lately, all the time!

    Have you or your company received any awards?

    I have received awards as an actress and writer. My work has been produced as part of several NYC theater festivals.

    Have you or your company been featured  in print, broadcast (tv or radio) or online media?

    My best film credit as a professional actress is playing a museum docent in the feature film "Tell Tale", starring Lena Heady and Josh Lucas. Here's the link: Video

    What drove you to become a tour guide or tour operator or create this company/organization?

    I was living in Paris working as a nightclub singer (and waitress, bien sûr) - when the opportunity arose to work as a guide for American students visiting Europe. Since my raison d'être at the time was to see as much of this glorious world as possible, I jumped at the chance. Thus began my illustrious career as a guide. When I returned to NY, I worked as a guide while putting myself through a rigorous conservatory training program, studying Meisner technique. As I got older and wiser, my knowledge base grew and my guiding skills became better and better - that, and becoming a parent, which taught me patience by the bushel full. Also, I minored in History at Northwestern University, my historian father is a Professor Emeritus at CUNY, and I come from a family of teachers - sharing my love for this city and it's inhabitants is in my blood.

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    Meeting people from all over the world, laughing a lot, and getting to be out and about in the greatest city in the United States.

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization? 

    I never recognize celebrities! I just talk to people and then get told later, "did you know who that was?" This drives my husband crazy. But I think most celebrities prefer to be treated like regular people, or at least they enjoy the notion that they might be able to pass through the street of NYC incognito.

    How long have you been a member of GANYC?

    Several years.

    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?

    When I was starting as a young guide, the organization was a great resource.

    How has GANYC helped you and your business?

    Helping to keep me informed and connected to other guides, offering great FAM tours, and with assisting others in finding me and the services I offer.

    What's your advice or Tour Guide tip you love to share to people visiting New York?

    Just talk to people - you'll get the best advice about whatever you are looking for, and possibly make a friend!


    (For more info or to book a tour with Julia check out her GANYC profile by clicking here)

  3. Spotlight on Industry Partner: Elizabeth Ingrassia of China Institute

    Introducing GANYC industry partner Elizabeth Ingrassia of: China Institute

    China Institute
    100 Washington St.
    New York, NY 10006 

    (Temporary entrance: 40 Rector Street, New York, NY 10006)
     

    Website: China Institute

    Phone: 212-744-8181

    Social Media: Facebook / Twitter / YouTube
    =======================================


    What year did your business open?

    1926.

    Can you tell us a little about your ideal customer?

    Art enthusiasts : Asian art enthusiasts, Chinese art enthusiasts

    Has your company or organization been featured in print, broadcast (tv or radio) or online media? 

    Yes: The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Artnet.

    See our media coverage page: here.

    What drove you to work or create this company/organization?

    China Institute offers New Yorkers a window into all things China, from seeing rare Chinese treasures that are on view in America for the first time, to a gateway to experiencing Chinese art, culture, language to do much more!

    What upcoming or annual events, promotions or sales would you like to promote? 


    Opening of new Exhibition:

    Dreams of the Kings, A Jade Suit for Eternity. Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou. 

    What time of year would you consider your busy season? 

    February-March, & September-November.

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization?  

    BD Wong, Yue Sai Kan, Chen Man.

    Any fun stories or favorite moments you can share about why you love working at your business?

    You get to experience China without leaving NYC!

     

  4. News You Can Use

  5. Tips for Tourists: Public Transportation

    One of our first posts in the "Tips for Tourists" series was a guide to taking the NYC subway. We feel that post is a great primer on why the NYC subway system should be your go-to transportation choice. But we felt an addendum was in order. So here are some additional tips on the public transportation options available in New York:

    1. Know the map.
      Download a copy of the NYC subway map to your smartphone (physical copies are available at most station booths, if you can find one). A PDF is here. Keep track of service changes on the MTA website. Weekend-specific changes are available here. Google Maps also now provides a public transit option, in addition to car and walking directions.

      Also note that some subway stations have separate entrances (and platforms) for uptown trains versus downtown trains. Check signs to make sure you are headed the right way.
       
    2. Metrocard.
      First thing you must know is that NYC has a flat-fare system. Unlike most cities where your fare is based on zones/distance traveled, there is one flat fare for NYC, no matter you destination. Simply swipe in to the system, and you are in at that one fare until you exit... transfers to other lines (through connected stations) have no additional cost. Within around 2 hours, you can also transfer to a bus with your Metrocard at no additional cost. The standard fare is now $2.75

      You can purchase Metrocards in every station at the vending machines, or from an attended booth. Some station entrances may not have a machine, if so, simply go back out and enter the station at the main entrance.

      There are a couple of different types of Metrocards available (info here). The first is the Pay-Per-Ride Metrocard, in which you put a certain amount of $$ on the card, and your fare total is deducted for every swipe. This is good for several people to share. The second type is an Unlimited Metrocard, in which you pay a flat fee and get unlimited swipes for a certain period... 7 days, or 30 days. These unlimited cards can not be shared as, after your swipe, the card will be locked out for about 15 minutes. If you will be in NYC for around a week, we highly recommend purchasing the 7-day Unlimited Metrocard for every member of your group or family.

      When swiping your Metrocard at a turnstile, a swift and straight swipe will avoid read errors.
       
    3. JFK AirTrain.
      The AirTrain monorail system provides a connection between JFK airport and two nearby transit hubs (check signs to make sure you are headed the right way)... Howard Beach (with access to the A train), and Jamaica (access to E and J lines, plus access to Long Island Railroad). Payment for the AirTrain is by Metrocard (pay-per-ride cards only). It is $5 each way.

      It also provides connections between terminals inside the airport at no cost.
       
    4. The different systems.
      The main NYC transit system-- ie. what your Metrocard will pay for-- consists of the following: the subways, city bus lines, and the Roosevelt Island tramway (info on the latter here). But there are several other transportation options in the city that your Metrocard will not cover, and will require separate fares. Here's a primer:

      A) NYC Ferry: NYC's new, official ferry service is a great way to travel between the city's waterfront areas. The fare is the same price as a subway ride-- $2.75-- but requires a separate ticket. 

      There are also other ferry options, such as NY Waterway and NY Water Taxi.
      (not even including the many sightseeing boat/cruise companies)

      B) Long Island Rail Road: The LIRR is a commuter train system that connects NYC to the suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk Counties (collectively known as Long Island). To ride this system, a separate ticket must be purchased at stations. If you do wish to ride a LIRR train, please buy a ticket in advance, as purchasing tickets on board is almost double the cost of an advance ticket.

      C) Metro-North: Metro-North railroad connects NYC to its far outer suburbs of upstate New York and Connecticut. As with LIRR, tickets should be purchased before boarding. 

      D) PATH: Path trains connect certain lower Manhattan neighborhoods to specific areas of New Jersey popular with cross-state commuters... Hoboken, Jersey City, and access to Newark Airport. The Path system does take Metrocards, but only pay-per-ride cards (unlimited Metrocards not accepted), though there is no free transfer between Path and the NYC transit system.

      E) NJ Transit: NJ Transit is a commuter rail system that connects NYC (via Penn Station) to cities all across New Jersey.

      F) Staten Island Ferry: The commuter boat between Manhattan and Staten Island. This one, as you may know, is free and requires no tickets.
       
    5. Getting help.
      Should you find yourself with questions during your travels, you have many options. First is to just ask! Contrary to stereotypes, most New Yorkers are very friendly and happy to assist (except maybe during rush hour). Second, check the web! All underground stations now have free wifi service. Finally, find an MTA employee! It is their job to help point you in the right direction.

    We hope this helps!

  6. Tips For Tourists: Taxis

    While the subway remains the cheapest and most efficient way to get around this city, for many visitors, taxis feel like a more private and safer option. So here are our tips for navigating New York's taxi system.
     

    1. Know your taxis!
      There are many types of cabs available in New York City... including private towncars, livery cabs, ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, and even dollar vans. But the classic yellow taxi remains the most ubiquitous. 

      But there are also now the green taxis (see main image for this post for an example). The difference? Yellow taxis can take you anywhere in New York City. The green taxis, designed to better serve the outer boroughs, however, have certain restrictions... they cannot accept pickups in Manhattan below 110th St. on the West Side, and below 96th St. on the East Side, or at either LaGuardia or JFK airports. If you hail one in an outer borough, they are allowed to make dropoffs, though, in those areas.

       
    2. Getting a taxi at the airport.
      The most important rule of getting a taxi at the airport is to never accept a ride from someone inside the terminal, or outside, offering you a ride. These solicited services are illegal. For a safe & legal ride, get in the official taxi queue outside the terminal. The line may seem long, but often they move quickly. Taking a cab back to the airport? Cabs provide a flat-rate for this service.
       
      (Side-note: Check traffic reports before you go. Public transit-- ie. the AirTrain-- may be the better option.)

       
    3. Know your rights!
      Passengers in NYC taxis have certain legal rights. Know yours, and you can protect yourself from unprofessional drivers. These include the ability to go anywhere in NYC that you request... a cab driver cannot legally refuse to take you to a destination once he has pulled over for you. You can also request a specific route or roads. You can also request the driver turn off a radio or turn on/off an AC, etc. 
       
      For the full Taxicab Passenger Bill of Rights, or to file a complaint, see their official website.

       
    4. Tipping!
      Tipping your driver is customary in the United States. Your average tip ranges from 15-20% of the final fare, depending on your satisfaction. If paying by credit card, most cab credit machine screens have an option to automatically add on the tip % you decide on, and provide you with a complete receipt.

       
    5. How to hail a taxi!
      We often see tourists with their hands out on the curb, attempting to hail a taxi, growing frustrated as numerous taxis pass them by without stopping. That driver is (probably) not ignoring you... he likely is either off-duty or already has a passenger. There is a very simple way to tell if a taxi is available: look to see that their light (the four-digit identifer code on the roof) is on. If yes, hail away. If no, keep an eye out for the next available one. 
       
      You are looking for this:

  7. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

    We came across this video of a segment from ABC's "The View", and it was very heartwarming, and a great look at the power of our industry. NYC tourist guide Luke Miller has been offering free tours to Syrian refugees who have settled here in the United States. It is a wonderful way to welcome them, and make them feel at home in their new country. Thank you, Luke!

    Link to the video segment is below:

    New York City Tour Guides and Whoopi Show Syrian Refugees The Real New York on 'The View'

  8. News You Can Use

  9. Join GANYC For a Film Screening and Q&A

    Please join the GANYC Multilingual and Education Committees, on Tuesday, May 23rd, for a joint event -- a viewing of the documentary, "If these Knishes Could Talk,"  a film by Heather Quinlan, about the rise and fall of the New York Accent.  Ms. Quinlan will join us for a Q&A after the showing.

    The location will be at the National Opera Center in midtown. Tickets are $10 each for members ($15 for non-members) and can be purchased here.

    This screening is another opportunity to get information about this topic which comes up often in our work, but also to network, socialize and have fun with other fellow tourist guides. Everyone is invited, multilingual guides or not, but you must have a ticket to attend. The number of seats being limited, we encourage you to RSVP as soon as you are certain you want to join us that day. Watch the trailer here:
     

     

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GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public.GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.

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