- Ladies and Gentleman please meet one of our new industry partners, POCODOT. Today we are introducing Mr. Victor Young their Chief Executive officer.His professional Bio:As Chief Executive Officer, Victor is responsible for product vision and overall business direction. He previously founded Enet, the nation’s largest cloud insurance Customer Relationship Management and e-Application for Fortune 100 insurance companies. He has built and managed a work force of over 500 employees and contractors nationwide.As an investor, he specializes in growing and guiding early-stage startups into successful businesses. He assists in product advice and feedback to entrepreneurs as well as critical investment capital to seed ideas and watch them blossomWhat drove you to work or create this company/organization? What's your story?Personal pain point with travelling and booking private tours internationally. Took too much of my time, money, mindspace, and patience to book tours on -the-fly. Had to pre-book way in advance, or pay a stiff premium and still be subject to inflexible terms.What is the most gratifying part of your work?Gratifying both tour guides (with another revenue making channel) and tourists (with an easy to use on-demand app).Do you have any offers for our readers or GANYC guides?$20 off first time users when booking a tour on Pocodot app (min 2 hrs)What's the best way for our guides to contact you?Email Victor any questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgVisit their website to sign up or for more information:Thank you for being an industry partner!
A New Club in Town
After the demise of the Oak Room at the Algonquin and the news that Feinstein’s at the Regency will relocate when the Loews hotel undergoes major renovations cabaret fans can enjoy a new club in town, 54 Below. Occupying the space that once was the “VIP Room” at the notorious Studio 54 discotheque, this comfortable venue is downstairs from the theater with the go go 70’s name.
54 Below opened with a two week engagement starring that lioness of Broadway, the original Evita, Patti LuPone. Ms LuPone is also a great exponent of the songs of Stephen Sondheim. Having seen her recently in that duet Broadway stint with her Evita co-star Mandy Patinkin and I find that the immensely talented Ms LuPone like chocolate mousse or pate de foie gras is best taken in moderation.
My first visit to the new club was to enjoy the lustrous voice of the wonderful Rebecca Luker.
Ms Luker, a native of Helena, Montana who has graced the Broadway stage in The Secret Garden, Showboat, Mary Poppins and Nine has also been in a number of the Encores semi- staged musicals at the City Center. Last year her bell-like soprano was heard in the Roundabout Theater Company’s production of Maury Yeston’s musical adaptation of Death Takes a Holiday.
The club is comfortably decorated in a combination of elegant speakeasy and art nouveau styling. The tables are spacious although the club’s policy is called “cabaret seating” which means you may end up sharing a table. The former VIP Room of the disco was totally gutted so don’t expect to find any souvenirs or powder tracks for that matter. The new décor has a quiet elegance and is comfortable. You have to purchase tickets in advance and the ticket prices vary according to the performers. There is a $25.00 minimum at the tables. However, if you are a moderate to non-drinker they have an excellent food menu. The wait staff is generally gracious and efficient.
Now back to the star of the evening, Rebecca Luker. Her program was her version of a Jerome Kern Songbook. Jerome Kern, a native New Yorker and one of the founders of ASCAP is considered to be the father of the American Musical Theater.
Ms Luker performed some lesser known Kern melodies, particularly those from a series called the “Princess Musicals” because they were staged at the Princess Theater, a precursor to an Off- Broadway house with only 299 seats. Kern’s collaborators for that series were Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse.
Some of the best known Kern songs of course were done magnificently, with definite gasps of joy coming from audience members as Rebecca Luker’s superb soprano did the Kern & Fields gem The Way You Look Tonight or the great Kern classic with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, All the Things You Are and two memorable pieces from the revolutionary musical done by Messrs Kern & Hammerstein, Showboat - Fish Got To Swim and Bill. A Kern-Hammerstein collaboration that is often done by jazz singers and instrumentalists, The Folks Who Live on the Hill was followed by a Kern-Mercer show-stopper, The Song is You
Ms Luker had to respond to the standing ovations with two encores. After a glorious evening enjoying this supremely talented vocalist I have to join our editor and express my jealous feelings as well. Rebecca Luker is married to Broadway star Danny Burstein. He’s had a tough life lately, married to Rebecca Luker (they do archival musical studio recordings together), he’s been nominated for two Tony awards and has had long runs alongside Kelli O’Hara in South Pacific and Bernadette Peters in Follies.
The evening ended with a charming touch – Ms Luker stood at the door and thanked us for coming to see her. To paraphrase a Kern-Dorothy Fields title, that was a fine romance!
Written by Lee Gelber, The Dean of Tour Guides and a proud member of The Guides Association of NYC.
GANYC members heeded the call to testify in front of the Landmarks Preservation Council at its October and November public hearings on 95 calendared properties throughout the 5 boroughs.
We have included snippets of testimony of GANYC members below. Those who testified included:
- Matthew Baker, October 8, regarding several properties in Queens
- Ibrahima Diallo, October 8, on behalf of two buildings in Brooklyn; his testimony was called “One of the most interesting perspectives on landmarking” by the real estate blog: Brownstoner.
- Claude Toback, October 22, regarding Staten Island
- Judy Richheimer, November 5 & 12, Manhattan: IRT Power Station and Chester A. Arthur house
- Robin Garr, November 5 & 12, Manhattan: IRT Power Station and Chester A. Arthur house. Her testimony was cited by DNAinfo.com.
IRT POWERHOUSE, NOVEMBER 5
"Today I voice my support the landmarking of Tthe IRT Powerhouse, now ConEd Powerhouse, for its beautiful, 1904, McKim Mead and White, Beaux Arts, façade, but not just for its historical architectural presence as a contrast to the new shiny developments all around it. The building is a celebration of our mass transit system, at over 110 years old it is the original powerhouse for the then-new, electrified subway. An integral part of our city’s history is documenting transit patterns and systems. Preserved sights are so important for illustrating the stages and developments of this history: Grand Central Terminal, the Highline, our waterways, and some of our piers, roads, and bridges remain. However, many have been lost. This is one of only two of the original eight public utility structures built in the early 20th century, and the most monumental... It is likely the building one day will be decommissioned as a power station, so it is imperative to designate it for landmark status now to preserve the façade for adaptive reuse, rather than destructive development." -- Robin Garr
CHESTER A. ARTHUR HOUSE, 123 LEXINGTON AVENUE, NOVEMBER 12
"(It is a) modest brownstone, but one steeped in historical significance as a physical presence where one of two U.S. presidents were sworn into office in New York City. The home of a New Yorker with a significant story, who championed civil rights during reconstruction, and who lived before and after his presidency in the very house still standing. Its proximity to Calvary Episcopal Church on Park Avenue and Madison Square Park, with sculptures of President Arthur and Senator Conkling, provides opportunities for guides and educators to engage in a period of history that is mostly overlooked.
Yes the building has been altered from its original appearance in the time of President Arthur, but this adds all the more need for landmark designation: Kalustyan’s (originally an Indian grocer, now featuring an international inventory) in business since 1944, should be just the kind of historic New York landmark we need to address and consider as well. What could be the final iteration of the facade illustrates the growth and change of the city over 100+ years, but what shame if designation were denied and further changes were made. On site now is a bit of multicultural and uniquely New York picture of American immigrant success -- and it is in the former house of a U.S. President to boot.
The house already has National Historic Landmark status and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s endorsement for New York City landmark designation by the LPC to preserve what remains." -- Robin Garr
183-195 BROADWAY - October 8
"It is refreshing when entering Brooklyn on a tour to say, 'Look, there's a cast iron building in Brooklyn," because it is something rare to find in a borough as diverse as Brooklyn. Furthermore, people expect signs of change, and there are enough of those at 183-195 Broadway, one of the 4 surviving cast-iron buildings in that section of Brooklyn . It is also worth noting that it was built while Brooklyn was an independent city and was part of what used to be the downtown district of Williamsburg." - Ibrahima Diallo
LADY DEBORAH MOODY - VAN SICKLEN HOUSE - October 8
"The Lady Deborah Moody - Van Sicklen House is the only known existent 18th-century farmhouse of stone construction in Brooklyn. And how large is Brooklyn! It is a significant house mainly because of its age, but also incorporating features of Lady Moody's 1640s-50s house. Most Dutch American farmhouses are of wood. This one isn't and was home to the son of the founder of Gravesend. So why not go ahead and preserve it." - Ibrahima Diallo
"I first got interested in history visiting the Lady Moody House and its adjacent cemetery with the now defunct, Gravesend Historical Society. I grew up nearby in Bensonhurst. Today I will still drive by the house and the neighborhood, with private clients on the way to Coney Island. To me, it's especially important if there are women or girls along, so they learn too. I will emphasize how incredibly important Lady Moody was and what she had done in American history." - Marc Landman
IMPORTANCE OF LANDMARKING
"As a tour guide, I can share with you that for most people, when they hear what we say, they forget; but when they see it, they remember it, they take photos of it, they talk about it, come back for it, tweet and hashtag it. I would love for all the visitors, locals and our younger generation to never forget the history and beauty of this borough and city." - Ibrahima Diallo, October 8
"I have decades of experience as a museum educator teaching from the object – engaging visitors with what is on view. As a New York City tour guide, the object -- my museum – is the City. My objects are the buildings, monuments, parks, the places and the people and what happened there. Pointing out a spot where a structure once was? There is far more impact when a visitor can see a building, even a remnant of it. Preserving tangible places where important historical events occurred provides instant interaction and creates reaction with our visitors. That human encounter is what keeps this city alive, thriving and one of the top destinations in the world." - Robin Garr, November 5 & 12
A few months back our very own GANYC aka Guides Association of New York City guide Robin London was interviewed for Guide Advisor. Check out what she has to say here on this website: https://www.guideadvisor.com/stories/qa_nyc_tour_guide_robin_london.
"A 3rd generation native New Yorker and professional licensed NYC tour guide who never gets bored exploring the city I love. I will share with you personal experiences, extensive knowledge and anecdotes of life in the Big Apple and you'll here it all in my native 'New Yawk' accent! Before becoming a professional tour guide, I was a teacher, a comedian and a storyteller. The streets of NYC are my stage and every tour is a new production. I love meeting people from all over the world and sharing my passion of NYC. Having experienced the 60's with the Hippies in Greenwich Village I am truly a free spirit. My favorite pastime is going to all the thrift shops and antique markets NYC offers, and of course eating a "dirty water" NYC hotdog. So come join me as we walk the beat of the city streets of NY."
Visit her website: http://metronyctours.com to book a tour!
This week in Time Out New York our very own Jane Marx was featured as a tour guide on page 6.
November 4-10th, 2015, Issue #1026.
Quoted from her profile "The company of one who makes you laugh. (You'll laugh. You'll learn. You'll love New York.) To survive and thrive here takes guts, perseverance and courage; and a dose of self-mockery."
To book a tour or for more info visit her website: http://nytourgoddess.com
The original text was edited for size for the print version of our Newsletter 'GuideLines'.
This is the entire tour review.A High Bridge and Morris-Jumel Mansion FAM Tour was held on September 10, 2015 with GANYC guide Kevin Wilkinson, Kevin@GeneralToursNYC.com, leading the way; Coordinated by GANYC Ed Comm's Andrea Coyle, who also arranged for the tour of Morris-Jumel Mansion.GANYC guide Tony Chen included special guest Lesley Walter, Board Member, Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct, Aqueduct.org, who added to the raucous, informative and delightful day.The weather was damp and cloudy, but a group of about 20 guides managed to walk between raindrops and had a delightful 90-minute walking tour starting in the Bronx at University Avenue and W 170th Street and ending in Washington Heights at Manhattan's oldest house.Built between 1837-48, the High Bridge was a viaduct for the Croton Aqueduct based on ancient Roman concept. The Aqueduct system, and the conduit across the Harlem River west to Manhattan, were built in response to deplorable water conditions and cholera epidemics which reached epic heights in the 1830s. Fresh, clean water was paramount for the growing population of New York.Water flowed in 1848 in two, 3-foot pipes that still remain under the bridge. The aqueduct pipes continued water flow to two reservoirs, one in Central Park and the other at 42nd St and Fifth Ave, where the NYPL sits at Bryant Park now. By the 1860s the conduit was proving inadequate for water demands and a third, 7'6" pipe was added. This new pipeline was paved over with bricks and the pedestrian walkway was completed and open in 1864. There are original bricks in the span near the gate houses, and original stone work in gate houses and short stack ventilators at each end of the span.The Chief Engineer and architect was John B Jervis. The design included 15 arches, five were located in Harlem River and were replaced with a single steel arch in 1927 to improve river navigation. High Bridge was always conceived as both a viaduct and as a pedestrian bridge park. (During his time in the Bronx, Edgar Allen Poe was a frequent walker.) Upon its opening as a park it was a popular place to visit. People traveled by boat and walked up steep staircases from park landings below the bridge. Hotels, restaurants, casinos and amusements sprang up on both sides of the river. (The High Bridge Coalition and Friends continue working towards total clean up effort of park on both sides.)The black iron fence is original to the bridge and has been restored. In 1872 High Bridge Tower on the Manhattan side was completed. This was a gravity-powered water pressure tower for upper Manhattan utilizing water pumped by coal engines from the former reservoir, now Edgecombe Recreation Center, and City Pool, 1934-1936. Water flowed through the viaduct for over 100 years until the mid-20th century when the New Croton-Harmon Aqueduct was put in service. The High Bridge pedestrian walk then closed in 1972 due to disrepair and disintegration. The High Bridge Coalition, including Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct and NYC Parks Dept., organized and funded refurbishing at a cost of $61.8 million and High Bridge re-opened as a public park in June 2015. The Coalition continues to raise funds. Ms Walter pointed out that Michael Bloomberg's Foundation gave $30 million to the project and it would not have been completed with out his donation.Kevin pointed out many sights that the view from span provides:To the north a single-arch bridge, the Alexander Hamilton bridge completed in 1963 and Washington bridge completed in 1889 (originally the Harlem River Bridge). Further north we viewed the dome and spire of the distant George Washington High School; Henry Kissinger and Jacob Javits are among the notable graduates.To the south: Macombs Dam Bridge named for the farmer Robert Macomb who built a drawbridge in 1813 which was followed by controversy about damming the river. Macombs dam had a boat lock, and presumably another toll for shippers. Disagreements and lawsuits eventually led to the replacement of the bridge. The current bridge is an iron swing bridge built late 1890s.Also to the south, a red lighthouse on top of a building was noticed. GANYC guides Michael Dillinger and Matthew Cummings pointed out that it adorned a book publisher's headquarters and the lighthouse sits on a base designed as a book. According to 'Forgotten NY': The building is located at MLK Blvd & Sedgwick Ave, Bronx, and was headquarters of H(alsey) W(illiam) Wilson Co., an 1898 bibliography and periodical index publisher. Built 1929, the lighthouse on the book is meant to symbolize "guidance to those seeking their way through the maze of books and periodicals, without which they would be lost" company merged w/EBSCO publishing in 2011 and sold the building. Looks like the new owners have kept sculpture so far.A Circle Line Tour boat passed underneath as we strolled across the span--- we waved and chanted for fellow GANYC Tour guide Andy Sydor, who some thought was working the cruise.Looking to the south you can clearly see Coogan's Bluff at roughly 155th Street and Coogan's Hollow below, where the 1968 Polo Ground apartment towers are now and where the famed Polo Grounds sport venue(s) were located. We could also see the white apartment building known as the Triple Nickel: 555 Edgecombe Avenue, 1914-1916, home to many prominent African-Americans, particularly jazz greats. Later on our walk Kevin pointed out the street sign dedications for both Count Basie Place and Paul Roberson Boulevard at corner of Edgecombe Ave and W160th Street.An additional sight we were directed to while still on the span is the current roadway of the Harlem River Drive. In the late 19th c. the road was the Harlem Speedway and was built exclusively for horse and carriage drivers as a raceway. Built 1894-1898 with a specially designed surface suitable for equines, by law no bikes, sulkies (2-wheeled racing buggies) or drays (working horse carts) were allowed! In 1915 the Speedway was reclassified as a parkway and horse racing ceased. In 1919 it opened to autos. The famed packed dirt track was paved in 1922 for cars. It eventually merged with the East River Drive 1937. As part of the Robert Moses overhaul it now connects to the FDR, and in 1964 became 'Harlem River Drive'. In 2003 it was designated the 369th Regiment Harlem Hell Fighters Drive honoring the all-black platoon who fought in France in WWI.After we crossed the span we had a lovely stroll through the Manhattan-side of High Bridge Park. At 160th St we continued around the block through Sylvan Terrace with its 19th century townhouses in the Jumel Terrace Historic District, to the front door of the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Our group was provided an extensive tour of the house and programs by Education Assistant Kelly Sweeny.Built in 1765, the Morris-Jumel Mansion is the oldest residential structure in Manhattan. From its beginnings as Mount Morris, a summer country retreat for Colonel Robert Morris and his wife Elizabeth Philipse Morris; to its role as a strategic site which served as George Washington's headquarters after the Battle of Brooklyn and during the Battle of Harlem Heights in September and October of 1776; through its occupation by British and Hessian military during the war; to its time as a roadhouse tavern 1790 - 1810 where President Washington and his cabinet dined after a north-country outing the summer of 1790; to its refurbishing as fine country house 1810-1865 for Steven and Eliza Jumel -- arguably the house's most colorful character; to its conversion to a museum by the Washington Heights Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1907; the Mansion has been and continues to highlight history, art and culture. A true treasure that we should encourage our visitors to experience!The FAM tour officially concluded here, but several members enjoyed a festive luncheon in Washington Heights. On our walk to the subway at 168th street and Broadway we passed an interesting sculpture. This is a 1922 monument dedicated to the 338 Inwood and Heights soldiers who perished in WWI. The sculpture is by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum, and is one of several monuments she created to honor WWI efforts.Thanks to Kevin, Andrea, Tony, Lesley, and all our fellow guides for a fantastic day!
Destination New York is back after a brief hiatus. Join host Aaron Tabackman as he sits one-on-one with Grayline CitySightseeing Tour Guide and TWU Local 225 Shop Steward James Muessig as they discuss the current situation of the double-decker sightseeing industry in New York. Also predictions for the future and the current battle to organize unions for tour guides in New York and more.
Co-host Aaron Tabackman meets the authors from Not For Tourists at the public launch of their new book Not For Tourists Illustrated Guide to New York City (2015, Skyhorse Press). Live from the Word Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Co-host Aaron Tabackman sits down with the producer of Queens Taste 2015 Rob MacKay of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and GANYC member John Garay of BQE Tours