Follow Us


  1. Harvey Davidson: The Tom Brady of Tour Guides!

    GANYC Associate Director Harvey Davidson is labeled 'The Tom Brady of Tour Guides' by the New York Times, in a wonderful story about "the oldest 1 percent of the work force, across a range of professions."

    Harvey wonderfully embodies the spirit of GANYC in his work: Guides who love this dynamic city, volunteering to help their fellow members and help the tourism industry get the recognition it deserves for its economic + cultural importance.

    Thanks to the NYT for this spotlight.

  2. Debunking Misleading or Confusing Geography

    GANYC member (and the official Queens Borough Historian) Jack Eichenbaum recently was discussing the warped perception of their own geography some New Yorkers may promote. To help people better understand these confusing geographic issues better, Jack provided this list:

    1. When New Yorkers say "Long Island" they are usually NOT referring to the ENTIRE island east of the East River which includes Brooklyn and Queens. Rather they are referring to the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk east of Queens. This is only part of the whole Long Island. The usage began with suburbanization of the 1950's and the transformation of Nassau and Suffolk into "Lawn Guyland" (pronounced just like that!)  Long Island was part of a Brooklyn address through the 1920's and part of a Queens address through the 1950's.

    2. The East River and Harlem River are NOT rivers. Technically, they are channels connecting bodies of water. The "East River" connects Long Island Sound to New York Bay. The "Harlem River" connects the "East River" to the Hudson River.

    3. Lower Broadway (where it begins at Bowling Green) is a misnomer. It is not nearly as broad as the Bowery which moves more traffic to the north. Lower Broadway is more like the British "high street", the "highway" which is lower on both sides and does not easily flood. Broadway does not maximally broaden until north of Columbus Circle.

    4. The term "heights" can connote altitude and/or status. In NYC,  Washington Heights is the highest of places named "Heights" but it is NOT the highest place in the NYC. Jackson Heights is only slightly higher than its surroundings. Cambria Heights is real estate fluff.

    5. Upper and Lower (East and West) sides in Manhattan do not refer to the top and bottom of the maps they are depicted on. They refer to altitude.

    6. The names of the boroughs have wildly different origins.

      a. The name Manhattan derives from the Munsee Lenape language term manaháhtaan (where manah- means "gather", -aht- means "bow", and -aan is an abstract element used to form verb stems). The Lenape word has been translated as "the place where we get bows" or "place for gathering the (wood to make) bows".

      b. The word "Bronx" originated with Faroese-born (or Swedish-born) Jonas Bronck, who established the first settlement in the area as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639.

      c. The name Brooklyn is derived from the original Dutch town of Breukelen.

      d.  The borough/county of Queens was named for the English Queen and Portuguese royal princess Catherine of Braganza (1638–1705)

      e.  The borough of Staten Island was named for the Staten-Generaal (“States General”) of the Dutch Republic.

    7. Unlike London and Philadelphia, most of NYC's "Squares" are really publicly accessible double triangles formed by the roadways of two avenues intersecting diagonally. Tompkins Square is an exception.

    8. Madison, Park and Lexington Aves, are the East Side's only named avenues. Madison Avenue takes its name from Madison Square, its southernmost terminus, named for President James Madison.

    Lexington Avenue (New Yorkers often shorten it to "Lex") is named for the Revolutionary War's Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts. Lexington was not part of the original 1811 grid plan but was instead built between Third and Fourth Avenues from East 14th to East 30th Streets at the behest of lawyer and developer Samuel Ruggles, who hoped to increase the value of the land he owned in the area.

    Originally called Fourth Avenue, Park Avenue had an inauspicious beginning as the route of the New York and Harlem Railroad. The tracks between 34th and 40th Streets were eventually covered in the 1850s, with grating and grass. The section along this stretch was named Park Avenue. The rest eventually took on the name, and today the road has a beautiful stretch of landscaping occupying its generously sized median.

    9.  The salient geographical fact about Harlem is that it is a valley lower than communities to the west, north and south. This gives rise to the demographic differences which have changed over time. Generally, the higher elevations attract those of higher (economic) class.

    10.  A point is a peninsula of land jutting into water. Two examples are College Point and Breezy Point.  But in NYC, the MTA has pointlessly bestowed the name  "Mets-Willets Pt." to the station in an area at the mouth of Flushing Bay. Politicians touting plans for redeveloping this area have mistakenly referred to this place as a point for decades. Some older subway signs refer to "Willets Pt. Blvd." which is a 19th century street connecting the mouth of Flushing Bay to the peninsular Fort Totten, a true point of land that once belonged to the Willets family. Tide tables in the NYC area exist for the real Willets Pt.

  3. GANYC Honored At Fall Tourism Kickoff!

    GANYC is proud to announce that we (really, our member guides!) were among the honorees at the NYC Fall Tourism Kickoff Event, which was held on The Intrepid on September 20th. Organized by Davler Media/City Guide, the event brought together over 300 people from the NYC tourism community, to celebrate difference makers in the industry.

    As their site notes about this recognition, "Guides are responsible for making tourist visits interesting and successful and are really the unsung heroes and heroines who promote the beauty, history and everything else making New York City the most popular destination in the United States."

    Over a dozen GANYC members attended the event. We had a wonderful evening meeting seeing old friends in the industry, and making new connections. We also want to congratulate the many other honorees, for their contributions to an industry that is crucial to our city's culture and economy.

  4. NYC Sightseeing Buses Flounder Without Guides

    Crain's recently published an article entitled "Tour buses chart new course as the industry awaits a comeback". The author spoke with several former double-decker guides, including GANYC member Fred Pflantzer.

    The article begins, "As operators wait for international tourism to bounce back, many of the buses have disappeared from the cityscape. The ones that remain offer scantier services, such as fewer routes and no more live tour guides—once a major draw for tourists." It should also be clarified here that, while tourism numbers are still noticeably below pre-pandemic levels worldwide, this Summer has been huge for tourism, with New York seeing a faster recovery than most other US cities. Every day, GANYC sees photos and stories of its members out there with steady work. As one example, the article notes "the weekend of July 16, Times Square averaged 420,000 people per day—almost 10% higher than the similar weekend in 2019".

    Why have double-decker tours not recovered as rapidly as walking tours, boat tours, or other attractions and experiences? We believe it is the lack of a live guide... it has now become a very lifeless experience. Recent TripAdvisor reviews for the various companies confirm that many customers agree.

    It should also be noted that, despite switching to prerecorded audio and removing the live guide experience (a big cost-saver for these companies), those savings have not been passed down to the consumer.

    The article thankfully also details how integral a live guide was to making double-decker bus tours a safe experience for all. Big Bus downplayed that in speaking to the reporter, but the piece notes "drivers now carry an additional burden, as they now field customers’ questions in addition to driving," and "On a recent Big Bus ride, a Crain’s staff member noted that the vehicle’s driver stopped the bus a handful of times and came to the upper level to deliver information about interesting points along the route."

    Finally, we should note that Big Bus continues to operate with live guides in almost every other city they operate in... just not in the country's largest city and top tourist destination. This does not represent our city well. After all, you cannot ask a recording questions. A recording cannot share tips unique to each bus's crowd, and to each route. A recording cannot assist passengers with changing traffic conditions, or weather. A recording cannot make you feel at home. Travelers deserve better. They deserve a human experience when they visit New York.

    The former City Council had explicitly promised representatives from GANYC that, before the end of the session this past December, they would finally vote on the long-delayed safety legislation to guarantee a live guide on the top of double-deckers. That promise was broken. With a new Council this year, GANYC will continue to advocate for the reintroduction of this bill, and to ensure the city treats this industry with the seriousness it deserves.

  5. A Different Type of Bird-Watching in Washington Heights

    GANYC member Leigh Hallingby was featured in the Washington Post for her tour of the Audubon Mural Project in Washington Heights. Aiming to draw attention to the 300+ North American birds threatened by climate change, the project arranged for artists to create several dozen murals throughout the uptown neighborhood. These murals are a great example of how, even for locals, there's always unique things to explore outside of the major attractions, and hiring a professional guide is the best way to discover them.

    Thanks to the Washington Post for spotlighting this tour!

  6. GANYC President Honored at Women in Tourism Awards!

    GANYC President Emma Guest-Consales was among those honored at the Women in Tourism Awards, produced by CityGuide. This first of its kind event was designed to "recognize the accomplishments of female leaders who inspire memorable travel experiences". There were over a dozen categories, ranging from restaurant owners to hotel management to attractions and nightlife. Emma was the honoree in the Tour Guide category.

    A digital version of the event program can be found: here.

    Video of Emma's speech at the event can be viewed on our Instagram.

    We congratulate our President (whose leadership has aided GANYC since the start of the pandemic) and all the other inspiring women working in various fields to make New York a great global destination.

  7. GANYC Goes To Washington

    Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) members traveled down to our nation's capitol this week to attend the US Travel Association's annual Destination Capitol Hill event. This 2-day event involves educating both travel professionals on how to make their voices heard, and then a full day of meetings with congressional staff on Capitol Hill on issues important to US travel.

    In attendance for GANYC were Kitt Garrett and Patrick Casey representing New York, and Harvey Davidson representing New Jersey.

    A major topic discussed was restoring international inbound tourism which is an export and helps money lost through imports and balances trade revenue.  International travel spending was still down 78% from pre-pandemic levels and international visitors spend more money than their domestic counterparts.  

    Other topics discussed included: rebuilding the industry workforce by increasing H-2B visas and other measures such as reforming tax deductions to reignite in-person business meetings and events. Also, officials urged attendees to encourage the Biden White House to remove the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound travel to the U.S. for vaccinated travelers, and to allow the federal mandate for masking on transportation to expire, as scheduled, on April 18.

    In addition, it was pointed out most of our major competitors for international tourism including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, to name a few, recognize the importance of promoting and managing international tourism and have a Minister of Tourism coordinating this effort. The U.S. does not have a similar position and there has been a proposal by the industry to have the U.S. create an Assistant Secretary of Travel and Tourism reporting directly to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce. The hope would be that such an official would be ocused on working across all government departments to consistently develop strategies that increase travel to the U.S.

    Tourism continues its recovery, but has not received the government support commensurate with its economic and cultural impact. We urge all those in the tourism industry to contact their elected representatives and urge them to do their part to support tourism and travel this year.

  8. GANYC Properly Rings in 2022

    GANYC's celebration of 2022 was delayed by the Omicron surge, but we were happy to host two big events last week, one virtual and one in person. The first was the 8th annual GANYC Apple Awards, which streamed online on International Tourist Guide Day (February 21). We were proud to honor several great New Yorkers and institutions. You can see the video, and all the winners, on our website.

    The next evening, we gathered in person at Fogo de Chao to hold our post-holiday party. We had a wonderful turnout, and we were so glad to celebrate with many members. We thank the great staff at Fogo de Chao for their exceptional hospitality.

    Earlier that month, we had our February membership meeting at the China Institute. Yesterday, we had our March meeting at historic Green-Wood Cemetery. We are planning many more great in-person events this Spring, as well as our annual trip to the Destination Capitol Hill. Changing office work dynamics make tourism more crucial than ever to NYC's economy, and GANYC intends to help push for the strongest recovery possible.

    We look forward to seeing you out there this year!

  9. "New York City tour guides fear losing their jobs by recorded audio and lack of tourists"

    Crain's New York has published a story looking at the struggling state of the NYC tourism industry. They spoke with GANYC members Jeremy Wilcox, Patrick van Rosendaal, and James Hoffman for their specific perspectives. We have seen a recovery, but it has been slower and choppier than expected as the pandemic nears its 2-year mark.

    Tour guides are licensed, career professionals who serve as ambassadors to our great city to visitors from across the United States and the entire world. We earn our living providing great experiences to travelers, and it is work that we truly love. Companies that abandon live guides diminish this experience, and our city.

    It has been an unbelievably tough 2 years for everyone, but guides are ready to celebrate a city that has often forgotten them.

    GANYC will continue to advocate for these talented professionals, and their crucial role in one of the city's most important industries.

  10. Joe Svehlak on 'Manhattan's forgotten Syrian Quarter'

    In addition to being a NYC tour guide (and long-time GANYC member!), Joe Svehlak has worked with numerous preservation groups for decades. Among his top focuses, Joe has worked to spotlight the history of the lost "Little Syria" community who lived in the "Lower West Side" of Manhattan that was rebuilt to create the World Trade Center starting in the late 1960s.

    In this video for The National News (an organization focusing on The Middle East), the work of Svehlak and others is spotlighted.


Subscribe to Blog

Proud Members of:

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.
English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish