Podcast & Blog

  1. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC, Brooklyn Historical Society

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with a representative for one of them.
     
    Nomination: Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC, Brooklyn Historical Society, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Museum Exhibitions (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)
     
    Joey O’Loughlin is the exhibit photographer for Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC. The creative force behind the exhibit includes curator Jake Price and other staff at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Joey lives in Brooklyn and her photojournalist work focuses on social justice and humanitarian issues both locally and around the world.
     
    What was the main source of inspiration for the exhibit?
    The exhibit was inspired by the dignity of the working poor families I met through my partnership with Food Bank for NYC, the desire to make their experiences known, and to encourage thoughtful solutions to the contemporary hunger crisis. For many of us, American hunger has been framed by powerful images from another time – Depression Era pictures of bread lines and the Dust Bowl, or turn-of-the-century photos of urban poverty in city tenements. But the people I photographed don’t look like that – they’re well dressed, have jobs and families and responsibilities just like everyone else. We share neighborhoods and subway cars, but their hardships are unacknowledged. Those personal challenges are hidden in plain sight, thus the exhibit’s title. These are new images of hunger and the people it affects in our city right now, and their experiences reflect an unsettling new economic norm that should be examined and addressed.
     
    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for creating your work?
    I’m a documentary photographer, working on long form projects that seek to illuminate social justice issues. I worked on this project for three years, and visited 40 food pantries in all five boroughs. I approached hundreds of people over the course of the project, asking them to allow me to go home with them to see how a pantry bag made a difference to their family. Almost everyone refused. There’s shame attached to standing in a food line and most people don’t want to talk about it. It makes sense, but then there were those who wanted to tell their stories because they feel they are doing their level best and their economic reality is crushing. They want to be understood, and they’d like to see things change for the better. After meeting them at a pantry, I would spend a day or so at their home, sometimes visiting several times. Lining up for food can be dehumanizing – you’re both on display and socially invisible, but at home, you’re like everyone else. A visitor to the exhibit might see something in a home that reminds her of her own life – a plate, a stack of bills on the dining room table, a loving gesture that suggests a shared experience. I wanted the photographs to offer points of connection between the people on the lines and the people who walk past them, unaware. Awareness is critical to change.
     
    What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?
    The Brooklyn Historical Society exhibit! What an extraordinary opportunity! First, because the staff is so smart and creative, and offered strong and clear support for the work. Then, the community events connected to the show were powerful – lectures and panels that illuminated the issues of poverty and hunger, and fostered crucial discussions in this history-making election year. School groups from grade school to the university level came to the exhibit. And the press, attracted to BHS for its intelligent and trustworthy expressions of history, was so responsive to this venue. I never anticipated such a list of coverage, and am so pleased that these stories could bring attention to the experiences and needs of the working poor. I still have requests to talk to groups about the exhibit – and it closed in November. Finally, the building itself is beautiful and infused with the dignity of our history. It was particularly meaningful to have hunger recognized in this place as a part of the American experience. Personally, I’ve been motivated by the stories I hear as a result of the exhibit. When I mention the project, people will sometimes open up about their own experiences with poverty – decorated veterans, shop owners, graduate students. I believe that the more we acknowledge that poverty is possible for so many of us, the more the stigma will be reduced. When people speak out, things start to change, and we are at a remarkable moment where people are demanding to be heard.
     
    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    Documentary photography is worth supporting. To be done right, it takes patience and time, and in the Instagram/Snapchat world it seems like everything can be done fast and easy. Thoughtful photography still makes an impact, and it’s important to train the next generation. Photographs start conversations, and conversations lead to change.
     
    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    As a local, I have to confess that most of my NY tours have been self-guided. After looking at your list, though, I think I’ve been missing out. My two must-do guided tours – The Amazing "Metrocard" History tour of the New York City Subway System and The "International Express" subway tour of Multi-ethnic Queens. I think transportation systems are a great way to look at urban history, and in this case, I know there will be amazing food, too! I may have to think about some of the others, too, and they’re great gift ideas.  
     
    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    The Met. I love art and culture, and see as much of it as I can. The Met is endlessly satisfying to me. Each time, something stops me in my tracks, for sheer beauty, or because it raises some aspect of the human experience that I had never considered before. It’s a safe space for human thought and expression. It reminds me of what we have to be grateful for as a species and what we have to lose if we don’t safeguard our collective treasures - physical, intellectual and spiritual.  
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    Brooklyn! I was born here, and I’m loving the borough’s renaissance. Art, civilization, food, and water, water everywhere – so cool. I wonder if we’re doing the best we can to preserve the culture as we power ahead, and I think that tours are a wonderful way to spread the word about the value of preserving the best of the past.

  2. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far, Children’s Museum of Manhattan

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with a representative for one of them.
     
    Nomination: America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far, Children's Museum of Manhattan, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Museum Exhibitions (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)
     
    Lizzy Martin is the curator and exhibit developer for America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far. The exhibit was a five year development process that cost over $1 million. Lizzy is an educator and has helped to develop numerous exhibits at the museum.
     
    What was the main source of inspiration for the exhibit?
    New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Our exhibit was inspired by the cultural diversity of our Muslim friends, neighbors, and fellow New Yorkers. At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, we celebrate the city’s wonderful pluralism. This exhibit is the fourth in a series of global cultural exhibitions. Other exhibitions focused on the cultures of ancient Greece, China and Japan.

    Please describe, briefly, what the process was like creating the exhibit?
    We started with a wide group of local, national and international advisors and community members. We worked with interfaith leaders, scholars, chefs, artists, educators, and families from across the five boroughs, in other states, and even from around the world as far away as Oman, Pakistan, London, Zanzibar, and Denmark. The next step was narrowing down the amount of content as well as designing interactive and immersive elements that would translate the content into accessible and engaging experiences for children and families.

    What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?
    Through my work as curator and exhibit developer for the exhibit, I’ve met many warm and interesting people. It was such an honor to work with them to create a beautiful and fun learning experience for children and families. My biggest motivator is seeing how much our young visitors enjoy it. Recently, I was having my picture taken for an article on the exhibit and several little boys were so eager to get into the replica of a truck from Pakistan in the gallery that they pushed their way into the photo!

    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    Many people don’t understand, or aren’t familiar with the idea of a children’s museum. Unlike other museums, children’s museums are places where children learn through play and exploration in environments designed just for them. If you are offering tours for families, especially those with young children, a visit to the Children’s Museum will give them a wonderful sense of what it is like to be a child in NYC. They’ll also be able to meet, play and explore with young New Yorkers and visitors from around the world in a welcoming, safe space designed especially for them!

    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    I grew up in NYC so I haven’t taken many tours of the city. But, I’d love to take a tour of some of the hidden, unexpected places of NYC, perhaps a tour of “New York Secrets” featuring private gardens, hidden subway tunnels or closed board rooms.

    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    A local New York City coffee shop, one of the ones tucked away on a side street. I love working at a table surrounded by NYC’s energy and diversity of personalities and stories. It's fun to think about how each person is contributing to the world, what work they are creating on their laptops or what they are sharing in their conversations.

    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    I’d want to be Manhattan. It has all of the various elements of my personality: nature for my alone time, sports for my athletic side, Broadway shows for my dancing and singing side, international people and restaurants for my worldly side, and is surrounded by water, which is how I wish I could be all my life.

    Anything else you’d like to share?
    Thank you so much for nominating the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and our America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far exhibition. Since your guides see all of NYC’s wonderful exhibitions, this is quite an honor. New York has a reputation of being busy and overwhelming, but I’d like to encourage people to slow down and look around. There is something interesting at every corner. That’s why I’m glad GANYC is helping people really and truly see our wonderful city!

  3. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Nathan Kensinger

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.
     
    Nominations (multiple): Camera Obscura, Nathan Kensinger, Curbed NY, Outstanding Achievement in Essay/Article/Series Writing (published October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016); Nathan Kensinger, Bronx Casitas 5, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016); Nathan Kensinger, Port Morris 3, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)
     
    Nathan Kensinger is an urban explorer who has been extensively documenting New York for years via photography and the written word, often exposing an aspect not often seen, even by well-traveled, veteran New Yorkers. In addition to giving talks and walks of much of his subject matter, many of his photographs have been exhibited around New York, and often show parts of the city that no longer exist, except in virtual form, as can be seen on his website.
     
    What was the main source of inspiration for starting Camera Obscura?
    My photo essay series, Camera Obscura, has been published every two weeks for the past five years by Curbed NY, but these bi-monthly articles actually started 10 years ago in March 2007, when I began self-publishing a photo-blog exploring the abandoned and industrial edges of New York City. The inspiration for creating those first photo essays was seeing the entire Brooklyn historic industrial waterfront being demolished, and wanting to document its buildings before they disappeared. My first 95 photo essays were portraits of all the old, abandoned industrial buildings on the New York waterfront, and of unique neighborhoods along the coast. When Curbed NY approached me in 2012 about continuing this essay series on their website, it was a great opportunity to expand into some new topics and territory. The first series I did for Curbed NY explored all of the new parks which had opened on the city’s post-industrial waterfront during the Bloomberg era, and then Hurricane Sandy hit later that year, taking my explorations of the waterfront in a much different direction.
     
    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for developing each article?
    Each of my photo essays is a different adventure into a unique part of the city, usually exploring a place that intrigues me and that I don’t know particularly well, and whose story hasn’t really been told before. I begin with an intensive period of research, digging into the history of each location using newspaper archives, old maps, and books from my personal library. Then, I plan out possible routes around the area, using satellite maps to scout out places that would be interesting to photograph. For each essay, I usually hike around and photograph for two or three days, taking hundreds of photos, and then spend a day going through photos, before starting to write the essay portion of the piece. The essays and the photos go hand in hand, with one informing the other.
     
    What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?
    When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, it motivated me to continue documenting the city’s waterfront. Many of the areas I had been writing about before the storm were decimated, and I knew I wanted to follow up and see what had happened to them in the immediate aftermath. In the years since the storm, my work has focused on the recovery process from Sandy, and on the city’s future, as it deals with the reality of sea level rise and climate change.
     
    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    Each of the 200+ photo essays I’ve done over the past 10 years is a short, unique piece about a small part of New York City’s history. Some of them are portraits of specific historic buildings, some cover entire neighborhoods. The essays can be read individually, informing a specific tour or walk, or can be taken in as a whole, giving an overview of how New York’s waterfront has evolved during the past decade, including insight into the past few centuries of the city’s history, and what the future of the city will be.
     
    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    I don’t go on too many tours of the city, because I am usually out visiting places which are pretty far off the beaten track, but my favorite tour company is Turnstile Tours, which is run by Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson. Their tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal offer great insight into Brooklyn’s changing waterfront, combining historical depth with fun glimpses into how the city is currently evolving.

    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    My favorite places in New York are the lesser-known beaches and rivers hidden all along the coast, which I’ve been writing about for the past few years. The sandy strips along the Arthur Kill, the bottle beach at the Edgemere Landfill, the backwaters of Hook Creek, the pathways along Gabler’s Creek and Lemon Creek. These places are quiet refuges, sometimes completely unknown and unvisited. It’s great to still be able to find a bit of solitude, in the most populous city in the United States.  
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    I don’t know that I would want to be an entire borough – they all have good and bad sides. Same with being a restaurant. If I could be one place in the city, maybe it would be the island in the middle of Pouch Camp on Staten Island – surrounded by nature, calm and peaceful, and a complete surprise for those who stumble across it.

  4. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Mike McLaughlin

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.
     
    Nomination: Mike McLaughlin, Manhattan Bridge, Curbed Photo Pool, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)
     
    Like others in the industry, Mike McLaughlin, didn't start out as a professional photographer. With a day job as a research analyst, he taught himself photography skills that have since developed into his signature “spare and clean style.” Mike has a love affair with the East End of Long Island, but his subjects also include much of NYC and are viewable on his website.
     
    What is the main source of inspiration for your photography?
    I’m inspired by creating images that bring a sense of peace and orderliness to New York City and other places. My work is most influenced by photographers like William Eggleston who were able to find poignance in everyday, even mundane scenes.
     
    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for creating your work?
    When I find a subject that interests me I will visit that location a number of times under different light and weather conditions until I capture what I feel is its essence.
     
    What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?
    The excitement I feel when I’m able to capture with the camera exactly what was in my mind’s eye is enough to keep me motivated. Beyond that, the recognition that I’ve received for my work and the camaraderie of the photographic community keep me driven.
     
    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    Perhaps some of my architectural tableaus can help people see a more graceful side of the city.
     
    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    I’m interested in architectural walking tours, particularly ones that include some of our significant buildings from the modern era.
     
    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    My favorite place to be in New York is the new Hudson River Park because of its beauty and the views. Lately, my favorite places to shoot have been the World Trade Center and Hudson Yards.
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    I would be Brooklyn because it has my favorite views of Manhattan.
     
    Anything else you'd like to share?
    I enjoy living in a place where people from around the world want to come and visit. I’m glad there’s an organization like GANYC, where visitors can find expert help in getting to know us better!

     

  5. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Fiona Davis

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.
     
    Nomination: The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis, Outstanding Achievement in Fiction Book Writing (published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)
     
    Like many who come to the Big Apple, Fiona Davis, arrived from elsewhere (Canada) to pursue theater and acting. After working for a number of years on and off Broadway, she began writing and continues to work as a journalist, specializing in health, fitness and the arts, and has edited and written for numerous lifestyle publications. The Dollhouse is her first novel.
     
    What was the main source of inspiration for The Dollhouse?
    A few years ago, my real estate broker took me to see an apartment in the Barbizon 63, a condo that used to be the Barbizon Hotel for Women. While there, I learned that a dozen or so of the long-time residents had been grandfathered in to rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor when the building was converted to a condominium in 2005. I was intrigued by the changes these ladies had seen over the decades they’d lived in the building (for example, a week’s stay at the hotel in 1966 cost $6.75, while a penthouse today goes for $17 million), and thought it might make a good set-up for a novel.
     
    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for writing the novel?
    I’m a journalist, so I approached the book the same way I would an article. First, I did a lot of research into the time period (part of the novel is set in the 1950s). I poured through old magazines and newspapers, read books about that era, and interviewed women who’d stayed in the Barbizon Hotel in the 50s and 60s. Once I’d figured out who my main characters were, I plotted out the story and then began writing. Because there’s a mystery element involved, as well as two time periods (1952 and 2016), there were days my head was spinning and I was wondering what on earth I’d been thinking!
     
    What’s been a highlight of writing in general or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue writing?
    I’m one of those people who love checking things off a list, so hitting a daily word count was key to keeping me going. As time went on, I became so fond of my main characters that I had to see them through to the end of their stories. And the community of authors I’ve gotten to know, both online and in real life, has provided a ton of support and encouragement for both the creative process as well as the business side of getting a book published.
     
    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    I’m such a fan of historic buildings, and the Barbizon Hotel for Women, on 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue, is one of my faves. It was founded in 1927 as the go-to residence for cultured young ladies to stay while they worked or studied in NYC, filled with editors, writers, actors, models, and students. A short list of the icons-in-the-making who lived there includes Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, Joan Didion, Eudora Welty, Elaine Stritch, and Liza Minnelli. The Dollhouse gives visitors a sense of what it was like to be a single girl in the city in the 1950s, from the white gloves and pearls of the Barbizon to the downtown jazz clubs where bebop reigned, and depicts how the city has evolved over time.
     
    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    Just this year I’ve taken two tours of Grand Central Terminal, and learned so much about the history of the building, including its near-demolition in the 1970s. Like authors, tour guides are storytellers who bring the past to life, and I love the idea that a building or neighborhood is basically a collection of short stories.
     
    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    Every spring, I make sure to visit the northeast corner of Sheep Meadow in Central Park, where dozens of lilacs grow. It’s like a private garden in the middle of the city.
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    Can I be Central Park? I get so many ideas for my novels while walking through it, and it provides New Yorkers with a necessary sense of the passing of time, of the seasons, that we might otherwise miss. From the first yellow buds of the forsythia to the sugar maples that look like they were dipped in butterscotch each autumn, it’s my favorite place in New York.

  6. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Melanie Benjamin

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.
     
    Nomination: The Swans of Fifth Avenue, Melanie Benjamin, Outstanding Achievement in Fiction Book Writing (published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)
     
    Melanie Benjamin (pen name for Melanie Hauser - her pen name incorporates her first name and the name of one of her sons) specializes in historical fiction. Growing up as a theater buff, she began to pursue a career in writing, starting out with a parenting column in a local publication and moving on to short stories. She is now a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. Though not a New York-native, she loves our great city and the symbiotic relationship with her agent!
     
    What was the main source of inspiration for The Swans of Fifth Avenue?
    I was in my office one day, looking at my bookshelves for inspiration for my next book. I’ve done this before; it was after re-reading an old biography of Charles Lindbergh that I decided to write The Aviator’s Wife. So I picked up the only copy of a book written by Truman Capote that I owned; it was the posthumously published Answered Prayers. And I remembered, vaguely, that there was some sort of a scandal involved in this; I went and looked it up and was instantly inspired. I love New York (I’m a Midwesterner who always longed to live there), and that era – the beauty, the sadness, the gossip – and these great characters all seemed to me like a great novel.
     
    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for writing the novel?
    I research first. In this case, that consisted of a lot of reading of biographies, memoirs, old issues of Vanity Fair. And then I treated myself to a trip to Manhattan! I’ve been several times but never really spent time at The Plaza, or the St. Regis – the natural habitat of the Swans. Then after the research – which takes a few weeks – I have the story planned out in my mind; where to begin, where to end, what events I want to highlight along the way. Only after it’s fairly planned out – not outlined; nothing that specific but more of a general map – I sit down to write. When I write, I write 2,000 words a day. The first draft may only take me three months to write, but then there is a lot of revising – which what I love best.
     
    What’s been a highlight of writing in general or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue writing?
    Success? I think that’s what motivates every writer! We love the words and the stories but if our books aren’t embraced, it’s very hard to keep going. I’ve been very lucky in that way. Just to get emails from readers, still, about books I wrote years ago is a privilege; they inspire me.
     
    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about you or your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    I don’t know – it’s whatever you want to share! The author’s note in the back of The Swans gives a very detailed explanation of my long fascination with Manhattan, and why I wrote this book. I think I was always a big city girl trapped in a small town reality; I desperately wanted to go to NYC when I was a young woman to study acting, my first passion. My parents would not let me; they held the financial strings. It’s one of the biggest regrets of my life that I didn’t go anyway. I now live in Chicago, which is a wonderful big city, too; I wouldn’t live anywhere else. But I think it was that dream of skyscrapers and subways that made me claim Chicago as my home. I still love New York, but I love it as a frequent visitor.
     
    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    I’m such a huge reader of history that I’ve not taken an organized tour; I know what I want to see and why I want to see it. Years ago, we did do the double decker bus tour with our sons. But when I’m in NYC alone, I simply love to wander! I leave my hotel first thing in the morning and walk, walk, walk.
     
    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    It’s hard to pick just one! So I’ll pick three. I love the Boathouse in Central Park – I know it’s touristy, but I always have to have a drink there. And I also love The Frick. Then, one of my favorite places that’s not well known is the Paley Center. It’s a treasure trove of old television clips and interviews. There is some amazing Truman Capote footage there!
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    Oh, The Modern at MoMA – that’s my favorite restaurant in Manhattan! I ask my agent to take me there for dinner every single time I’m in the city.
     
    Anything else you'd like to share?
    Um, that I love NYC? It’s such a special place; there’s so much to see and learn that I know I’ll never absorb it all – which is a wonderful reason to keep coming back!

  7. SPOTLIGHT ON GANYC GUIDE: NORMAN ODER

    Introducing GANYC guide Norman Oder of his own company: New York Like A Native

    http://www.nylikeanative.com/

    917-795-8595 (voice mail only)

    Social Media: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

    How long have you been a tour guide?

    Since 2000, so this is my 17th year.

    What types of tours do you offer? (Walking, Biking, Bus, etc...) Could you describe them for us?

    I lead energetic, eclectic walking tours of numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods (as well as a few neighborhoods in Queens and one in Manhattan). I can adapt them to cover more ground if we use a vehicle (or take taxi or public transit trips).

    Do you offer Niche Tours? 

    Well, I adapt my neighborhood tours periodically for college/university classes. One specialty is a tour of the Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park) project in Brooklyn, which includes the Barclays Center.

    What time of year would you consider your busy season? 

    Spring and fall are busiest-- October was my busiest month last year.

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

    Yes! I've been featured in Up magazine, the NY Daily News, and Wall Street Journal.

    What drove you to become a tour guide and create this company?

    I've always been interested in cities, and as I worked as a freelance journalist in the 1990s, I spent a lot of free time just walking Brooklyn, then giving informal tours to friends and family. I saw "The Cruise" and realized that, hey, I could do that. In 2000, there were lots of free web tools, so I built a web site. I wanted to offer the kind of tours I'd want to take when I travel-- I think many tours are too slow.

    What is the most gratifying part of your work? 

    Helping people understand the nuances of Brooklyn, or as one of my clients put it, the gestalt of a neighborhood. And continuing to learn, and challenge myself. Devising a tour route requires a mix of research, walking, asking questions, and repeated visits.

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization? Any fun stories about when they visit your business? 

    I once had a (former) TIME Person of the Year. Fascinating guy. But I'm not telling.

    How long have you been a GANYC member?

    Maybe 13-14 years (I forget!)

    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?

    A tour colleague I met at the old Brooklyn Tourism Council.

    How has GANYC helped you and your business?

    Fam tours, a few jobs, insurance, general awareness of tour issues.

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

    Take the subway. Get out of Manhattan. The neighborhoods in Brooklyn have a richer mix of architecture and social history, but the variety of food is probably better in Queens.
     

    (For more info or to book a tour with Norman check out his GANYC profile by clicking here.)

  8. 2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Paul Kessel

     
    Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.

    Nomination: Paul Kessel, Coney Island 10, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)

    New York-native Paul Kessel had another career spanning over 30 years as a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and university professor. After taking a photography class in 2008, he began his more recent journey in the world of street photography. Another one of his photos, “Looking at Self, Times Square” (True Believers) was nominated for the 2016 GANYC Apple Awards for Outstanding Achievement in NYC Photography. There’s no place like home, and Paul is certainly right at home here in New York.

    What is the main source of inspiration for your photography?
    My daughter. She began a career in photography after graduating college (She is now a prop stylist). I am always trying to get a photograph that she may like. In addition, I am inspired by the great street photographers of the past and present. Internally, I am inspired by the relatively small possibility of getting an exceptional picture.

    Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for creating your work?
    I am out searching for pictures on the street as often as possible. I treat photography like a sport, aware that performance fluctuates depending on many factors. Some days, I get nothing worthwhile. Other days, I may save one or two pictures from 50-100 shots. I process them on the computer in Adobe Lightroom and print the better pictures at home.

    What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?
    Anytime I get a significantly good picture, it keeps me going. I suppose one highlight has been an article about my work (a particular project) in Popular Photography Magazine. Another highlight was winning a national competition. I often feel that I cannot take any decent pictures, but the occasional success or accomplishment pushes me forward.

    For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?
    As a street photographer, I am out "touring" alone almost every day. The vast majority of my pictures were made in Manhattan. I also go to Williamsburg and Coney Island in Brooklyn a lot.  My self-published books on Williamsburg, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, and the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, among other books, hopefully show what these places are like (with the emphasis on people and not the place, per se.) All books can be viewed on my website.

    Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?
    I think the only tour I have been on is the Circle Line (boat tour). I was very impressed by the knowledge as well as the style of presentation by the guide.

    What is your favorite place in NYC and why?
    Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My daughter lives there and wherever she lives, feels like home to me.
     
    If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?
    In spite of Williamsburg feeling like home because of my daughter living there, I may choose Manhattan because I have lived there most of my life. I would not be a store or restaurant. I would be Central Park - in my opinion, the best part of NYC.

  9. International Tourist Guide Day 2017

    International Tourist Guide Day is held on 21st February each year, and is an initiative of the WFTGA (World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations). This is a great day for guides all over the world to help promote our industry, and to offer complimentary tours and programs to our communities. GANYC is proud to be participating this year, with a number of events.

    Our official schedule for Tuesday, February 21 is:

    • 12:30-3:00pm: FAM Tour of the China Institute & Panel Discussions

      A FAM Tour: Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd – 6th Centuries will start at 12:30 PM. Half-hour tour of galleries.

      Followed by Presentations/Panel at 1:00PM to 3:15 PM: Celebrating the Varieties of Cultural Experiences in New York City. 
       
      China Institute will share highlights from their curriculum. GANYC Members will also report on our  Iran/NYC cultural exchange at the WFTGA Conference in Iran. Finally, special guest speaker Michael Adams will deliver a closing presentation on GAY Harlem and  Preservation in honor of Black History Month at approximately 2:30pm. 
       
      This event is open to GANYC Members, Tourist Guides, Travel Professionals and their Guests ! 
       
       
      China Institute Address:
      100 Washington Street, New York, NY 10006 Temporary entrance: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006
       
    • 3:30-5:30pm: FAM Tour of the Museum of Jewish Heritage

      Meet at: Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust  Edmond J. Safra Plaza , 36 Battery Place New York, NY 10280

      RSVP: www.ganyc.org/calendar

      Limit: 50 GANYC Members

      The mission of the Museum is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust.

      Multiple perspectives on modern Jewish history, life, and culture are presented in the Museum’s unique Core Exhibition and award-winning special exhibitions.  Acclaimed public programs, including discussions, films, plays, and concerts, highlight the richness of Jewish culture and ideas. The Museum’s mission extends across the country and the world with Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) and initiatives with affiliate organizations: the Auschwitz Jewish Center and JewishGen.

      Temporary exhibitions on special topics complement themes expressed in the Core Exhibition in greater detail and extend the Museum's explorations of Jewish life in multiple directions. Current exhibitions include: Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited and My Name Is...The Lost Children of Kloster Indersdorf

    • 5:30-7:30pm: GANYC Networking Happy Hour (Beckett's Bar & Grill, 81 Pearl Street)
       

    Stay tuned to GANYC's website and social media accounts for updates on these events.

    In addition to these official events, a number of GANYC members will be offering short, free tours during that week to the NYC community. This is an opportunity for these guides to give back, as well as to promote their tours. These tours are open to anyone. These special tours are as follows:

    • One-hour walking tour of Ground Zero/WTC Area: This tour begins at historic St. Paul's Chapel, and then proceeds to Brookfield Place/Winter Garden, followed by the 9/11 Memorial. After that, view the relief in front of Engine Company 10. Then followed by a short walk through Zuccotti  Park to Wall Street and Broadway.  
      -Guide: Gwen Strum (contact info to confirm attendance).
      (Offered twice: 2/21 AND 2/23 at 3pm-- meet inside St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway entrance)
       
    • Rockefeller Center and Secrets Beyond: The tour will celebrate public art and architecture of Rockefeller Center and its interesting "neighbors" seeing sites that many New Yorkers haven't seen and enjoyed. Approximate duration, 2 hours with visits to indoor locations. 
      -Guide: Lee Gelber, of Here is NY. RSVP by email, if interested.
      (Offered 2/21 at 11am-- meet at 49th St & Rockefeller Plaza, on the corner.  I will be holding a sign saying "Rockefeller Center and Secrets Beyond".)
       
    • The Fulton Underground Tour: This will be a brief walking tour of the  interconnected passageways that run under Fulton St in downtown Manhattan, starting at the Fulton Center subway station, running through the World Trade Center transportation hub, and ending at Brookfield  Place. This tour is entirely indoors/underground (so good no matter the weather), and will show you the rebirth of downtown through its transit initiatives.
      -Guide: Jeremy Wilcox of Custom NYC Tours. You can RSVP here.
      (Offered 2/21 at 11:30am -- meet at corner of Broadway & Fulton)
       
    • Grand Central Tour: For our tour in Grand Central Terminal, your guide will take you outside to talk about the building's exquisite exterior, as well as its history beginning with Cornelius Vanderbilt. Back inside, you'll hear about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis leading the charge in saving the terminal from the wrecking ball. While you're  indulging in the main concourse's multiple photo ops, I will tell you all about all the elegance that surrounds you. I'll show you the world famous whispering corner, beloved by people of all ages, the kissing room and one of the platforms where two famous movies were filmed.
      -Guide: Mike Grant. Please RSVP by email if interested.
      (Offered on 2/21 at 11am-- meet by the station information desk's famous clock. Guide has very long gray hair, will be wearing a black beret and, maybe, his "Woody Allen" glasses.)
       
    • The Big Public Square on 42nd Street: You may have enjoyed a summer lunch hour in Bryant Park or twirled around the ice rink there. Perhaps you’ve done some research or taken in a free exhibit at the imposing New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. But how much do you really know about these adjacent Midtown icons? What do they have to do with drinking water and a world’s fair? What lies beneath? Learn the history of this square in the middle of bustling Manhattan, see historic photos, and discover buried treasures during this lunchtime tour. The tour will last 30-45 minutes, depending on whether you end by going into the library or reading words of wisdom in the sidewalk. If you don’t know what that means, all the more reason to take this tour!
      -Guide: Laurie Lewis of Take A Walk New York. RSVP by email to confirm attendance.
      (Offered 2/21 at 1pm-- Meet tour guide under the vaulted entrance at 11 W 42nd St, between 5th & 6th Aves)
       
    • Features of Grand Central Tour: Grand Central Terminal is a masterpiece of engineering and design as well as  of architecture. It stands as one of the great buildings of the world. A  walk through Grand Central brings to view the spectacular  transformation of its main room via its recent renovation, the  discriminating use of color and shade to provoke emotional response, and  the cues that encourage patrons to move (e.g. - slow down or speed up,  gather here but not there) according to the intentions of the designers a  century ago. Then  there is the genius behind the weather functions of the great windows,  the Terminal's secondary function as a mall (per square foot, the most  profitable in the nation), and the viaduct that speeds midtown traffic  while allowing the Terminal to otherwise completely dominate (and block)  the avenue - a spectacular demonstration of the authority once enjoyed  by American railroads. Grand  Central's sister project is Park Ave., which opened as America's  attempt to build a European-style boulevard. It is also part of an  enormous metal platform clapped over a vast trainyard - essential to the  enterprise that made the name "Park Avenue" synonymous with elegance  and distinction. Together,  Grand Central and Park Ave. transformed the area from a shabby district  far from the city's core to the focus of a massive shift that created  midtown Manhattan - the largest and most powerful business district in  the world. 
      -Guide: Peter Laskowich of New York Dynamic. RSVP by email is required.
      (Offered TWICE on 2/21 at 10:30am AND 12:30pm-- meeting place revealed after RSVP email.)
       
    • Gleeks On Broadway Musical Theatre Walking Tour: Attention all GLEEKS! Check out this New York Broadway Tour which features bios of the amazing cast of Glee and its Broadway and Off-Broadway stars. Learn about Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Jenna Noelle Ushkowitz, Jane Lynch, Amber Riley, and more! Discover the theatres where they had their Broadway debuts, enjoy fun Glee trivia, and sing along with your licensed musical theatre tour guide to all of the fun Broadway songs made re-famous by Glee’s amazing cast!
      -Tour Company: NewYorkBroadwayTours.com/product/gleek-on-broadway RSVP on the website using promo code "FreeGleek21"
      (Offered 2/21 at 11am-- meets in front of the Broadway Theatre corner of West 53rd and 7th Avenue)
    • Pokemon Go Tour: Join us for a free one-hour Pokemon Go tour into Central Park! The tour will take in  several Pokestops, and end at a gymnasium for Pokemon training.
      -Guide: Stan O'Connor. RSVP via email, or by tweeting to @CentralParkPoky .
      (Offered 2/21 at 12pm-- meet under the statue of Jose Marti on the rearing horse, just inside the park entrance at 6th Ave & 59th St)
       
    • Woolworth Building Tour: Tour guide Bob Gelber will lead a 60-minute tour in the Woolworth Building for this event. Limited to 12 people.  All attendees must be pre-registered. No one  else may attend due to building access restrictions.
      -Guide: Bob Gelber. Attendees MUST RSVP by email
      (Offered on 2/22 at 10:30am)
       
    • Destination St. George, Staten Island: Join your GANYC tour guide  Claudia Toback for an overview of the new developments coming to Staten Island  as you stroll to Borough Hall.  Marvel at the architecture of this French  Renaissance landmark building as you walk up the staircase to its rear  entrance.  View the thirteen murals depicting the Island's history, painted  by WPA local artist Charles Stahr.  
      -Guide: Claude Toback of Cititrek Tour & Guide Services. RSVP by email.
      (Offered on 2/22 at 11am-- meet at information sign in the outer lobby of the St. George Ferry Terminal. Must take the 10:30am ferry from Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan for prompt arrival.)
       
    • Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tour: Our tour start at Fulton Park. We will then see art at Boys and Girls High School. Learn the history of Bed-Stuy. See brownstones, local architecture including mansions in the area, and St Phillips Church which dates back to 1899. We will end the tour at local restaurant Peaches for southern comfort food (at groups expense). The tour should end around 12 and would be completely a walking tour of the area. Rain or shine.
      -Guide: Kristin Singleton. RSVP by email is required to attend.
      (Offered on 2/22 at 10:30am-- meet at Fulton Park, in Brooklyn)
       
    • Museum of the City of New York Tour: Guide Susan Mills Birnbaum will lead a 60-minute Highlights tour the current exhibitions- Mastering the Metropolis, Activist New York, Gay Gotham and Gilded Age
      -Guide: Susan Mills Birnbaum. RSVP by email if attending.
      (Offered 2/22 at 1pm--  meet at the Museum @ 103rd St & 5th Avenue.)
       
    • The Magical Mosaic of Rockefeller Center Tour: Learn to  look up and savor New York City with "The Spirited New Yorker", who for 25 years has given multi-faceted tours and lectures to travelers from around the world.  Formerly affiliated with NBC, she is a cultural historian and legendary expert on Rockefeller Center, the most important urban complex of the twentieth century. This is the first landscaped complex, which was created for commerce but conceived with art. With about twenty buildings this "city  within a city" was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in the 1930's. Come learn about the history, art work, and many "firsts" together with some fun too!
      -Guide: Sibyl McC Groff, of The Spirited New Yorker. RSVP by email or phone (212-722-7591)
      (Offered on 2/22 at 4pm-- meet in lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center, the flagship building between 49th & 50th Sts)
       
    • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Join Michael Zufolo for a tour of these beautiful gardens!
      -Guide:  Michael Zufolo. RSVP by email
      (Offered 2/22 at 2pm-- meet at 150 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn)

       

    • W.C. Fields  Broadway & Vaudeville History Tour: Take a stroll through the New York life  of actor-comedian W. C. Fields in the era from 1905 into the Roaring  Twenties. Walk in the footsteps of the great performer and see the  locations associated with his life before he went to Hollywood. If you  are a fan of old theater stories and silent movies, this is the tour for  you. The walk begins in Shubert Alley between Forty-fourth and  Forty-fifth streets, next to the Shubert Theatre and covers the Times  Square neighborhood. See the locations of the theaters, hotels,  restaurants, and landmarks tied to the life of W.C. Fields. Among the  stops are the New Amsterdam Theatre and Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (both  still standing) and former locations of the Earl Carroll Theatre and the  New York Theatre. The tour provides an overview of the history of Broadway,  Vaudeville, New York performers, and Times Square. The history of  Prohibition, the Actors Strike of 1919, the rise and demise of  Vaudeville, and the colorful stories of the Ziegfeld Follies are also  reviewed.
      -Guide: Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, of Big Apple Fanatics. RSVP by email please.
      (Offered 2/23 at 12pm-- at Shubert Alley)
       
    • Art Deco skyscrapers on East 42nd Street: One hour walk to visit three grand Art Deco skyscrapers on East 42nd Street, led by Anthony W. Robins, author of the forthcoming New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture (SUNY Press, 2017). We visit the Daily News Bulding, the Chrysler Building, and the Chanin Building, three very different skyscrapers by three very different architects, within two blocks of each other. Together, they reshaped the east Midtown skyline. Meet in front of 220 East 42nd Street (former Daily News Building), south side of East 42nd between 2d and 3d avenues. Free, but reservations required - limited to 30 people.
      -Guide: Tony Robins, of his own company. RSVP by email required.
      (Offered 2/23 at 12pm-- meet in front of 220 East 42nd Street)
       
    • Grant's Tomb and Morningside Heights: Take a history tour along Riverside Heights. See the final resting place of America's 18th President, historic streets, gorgeous views, and more!
      -Guide: Ayinde Stevens. RSVP by email.
      (Offered 2/23 at 12pm-- meet at Grant's Tomb, W 122nd St & Riverside Dr)
       
    • Explore Downtown’s Lost Neighborhood in conjunction with “Little  Syria Exhibit at Metropolitan College of New York”:  Preservation activist, Joe Svehlak whose family lived in Downtown Manhattan  in the early 1900s, will lead us on a Lower West Side tour and reminisce about  this former unique immigrant neighborhood. Did you know that the Lower West Side used to be one of New York’s most  diverse immigrant neighborhoods?  In 1917, a news article noted the presence of  27 nationalities in this small compact area.   From the 1840’s to 1960’s, waves  of Irish, German, Middle Eastern, and various Slavic immigrants settled north of  the Battery.   Lower Washington Street was the heart of the Syrian Quarter, also  called “Little Syria”, the first major Arab settlement in the United States.  Few remnants of this neighborhood still exist, due to the construction of  the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in the 1940’s and the World Trade Center in the  1960’s both built by confiscating land through eminent domain.   The  neighborhood is continuing to disappear with the new construction after  9/11. View the former St. George Melkite Church, the Downtown Community House,  some Federal style townhouses and the few remaining tenements.   Hear stories of  the diverse people who lived here together in one of New York’s great  neighborhood melting pots.  Learn about the problems facing current residents as  they fight to preserve the last significant remaining buildings.  The tour will end at the “Little Syria” exhibit at Metropolitan College of New York (at 60 West Street), where tour participants will have a chance to view the exhibit which will close on March 24, 2017.
      -Guide: Joe Svehlak. RVSP by email, please.
      (Offered 2/24 at 10am-- meet inside Staten Island Ferry Terminal/South Ferry at the bottom of the escalators, left side.)
       
    • Highlights Tour of Downtown  Manhattans Lost Neighborhood: Abridged version of above tour
      -Guide: Joe Svehlak. RVSP by email, please.
      (Offered 2/21 at 11am-- meet at the China Institute, 40 Rector Street.)
       
    • Chinatown: Spend 2 hours in New York’s foreign country on this great tour! Home to "the largest" Chinatown in America. Led by Radio Talk Show Hosts, Authors and Historians. Learn about its Origins, Customs, Superstitions and visit amazing food markets and Herb stores!!! We’ll even touch on the “Gangs of New York”.
      -Guide: For reservations contact: Susan or Art Zuckerman at 914 224-7134 or Email.
      (Offered 2/25 at 10:30am-- meet at McDonalds on Canal St. Between Broadway and Lafayette)
       
    • Lincoln in New York Tour:  In February 1860 a little-known Abraham Lincoln arrived in New York on a  visit that would change history. After attending a sermon, visiting a hatter, and having a photo made, Lincoln delivered a rousing speech in  front of 1,500 people that had one observer compare Lincoln to St Paul. On  the Lincoln in New York Tour, we'll retrace Abraham Lincoln's pivotal  visit to NY in 1860 culminating with his speech at the Cooper Union on February 27th.  We'll discuss the NY that Lincoln saw & the places he (& Mary  Todd Lincoln) visited, through photos, vivid descriptions & the  buildings that still stand. Along the way we'll also learn about NY  before & during the Civil War--what it was like and how it was  changing.  We'll meet the important figures in New York that Abraham and  Mary Todd interacted with, such as the preacher Henry Ward Beecher,  newspaper publisher Horace Greeley, emporium owner Eder V Haughwout, and  the photographer Mathew Brady.  And we'll learn how the speech launched  Lincoln's bid for the presidency.
      -Guide: John Semlak. RSVP by email, please.
      (Offered Sunday, 2/26 at 12pm-- meet at City Hall Park, near the fountain)

    Click here for the current Press Release as of 2/17/17

  10. GANYC is in the NYTimes!

    Guides Association of NYC in Tehran Iran for WFTGA 2017 convention

    Our association traveled to Iran for the World Federation of Tourist Guides Convention January 23-February 1st we returned to our country with apprehension and sadness due to Trump's travel bans. 

    When we created this bid to host the next WFTGA convention our enthusiasm was detailed and set with the theme "Come Home To New York: A City of Cultural Diversity" our full presentation represented the inclusion, spirit, and welcome that we as New York City tourist guides embody. However the travel ban was announced the evening after our presentation and things changed and it effected our convention offer and the delegates decided to host it in Georgia instead.

    From The New York Times: Trump’s Travel Ban Hits Close to Home for Corporate Travelers The executive order has had repercussions for the professionals who oversee and coordinate everything from small board meetings to huge conventions. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/06/business/trumps-travel-ban-hits-close...

    The link to our full presentation is here: https://youtu.be/nm-s5wTOLAo

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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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