Q. How do I become a GANYC member?
A. You must have a valid New York City Guide’s License to become a member. It is illegal to be a professional guide in NYC without that license.
Monthly meetings are held at various places around NYC, usually take place on the first Wednesday of the month. Please check the calendar at www.ganyc.org/join-us to confirm the date and time of the meeting.
After submission, an interview with members of the GANYC Board of Directors will be scheduled. At the interview, you may bring a check made out to GANYC in the amount of $140. This covers the initiation fee of $25 and the annual dues of $115. (Dues paid from July 1- Oct. 31 are prorated to $57.50: full dues paid from Nov. 1 - Dec. 31 will be credited to the following year.) You may also pay via Paypal to email@example.com.
Q. How do I become a New York City tour guide?
A. To be a tour guide you must be licensed by the City of New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs. It is illegal to work as a professional tour guide without a license. GANYC is always working with the Department of Consumer Affairs to enhance the enforcement of the licensing law.
Q. How do I get a license?
Q. Any suggestions on preparing for the test?
A. Yes, read and take tours! Even born and raised New Yorkers should study before taking the test. The Blue Guide of NYC, is a good source on so many diverse parts of the city. Gerald Wolfe’s New York: A Guide to the Metropolis is excellent for both overall history as well as a more in depth look at various neighborhoods. While focus of the test is on Manhattan you should have knowledge of major sites in the other boroughs as well. And while you don’t need a Masters in American Literature, you should know something about the major writers that have lived and worked in New York. Also, brush up on the various “Walks of Fame,” such as the Fashion Walk on 7th Avenue, the Yiddish Theater Walk on 2nd Avenue, etc. Lastly, a knowledge of the street laws, particularly the “Thru Streets” in midtown is helpful.
NYCTV has some very good shows on NYC history and some series such as $9.99 and Cool In Your Code will expose you to many different neighborhoods, sites and businesses throughout the entire city. Of course the Internet has some excellent information regarding New York history. Perhaps surprisingly, a wonderful NYC primer can be found by going to www.pbskids.org and look up NYC history.
Most importantly, take as many tours as your time and finances allow. Look in the New York Timesweekend section as well as Time Out NY for many free or inexpensive tours. Many of the BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) such as Grand Central Terminal and Times Square have excellent FREE tours - check their websites for scheduling information. Taking tours not only provides you with information; it lets you see a professional in action. You’ll get to see how the different guides work and see the things you’d like to emulate – or see things you swear you’ll never do! In either case, you’re learning. Remember, knowledge of NYC history is just one facet of being a guide. Can you move a group through the city on all of its various means of transportation? Can you tell a story and keep a group’s interest? Can you think on your feet and change your plans as the city throws its inevitable roadblocks at you? That’s just a sampling of the complexities of being a guide.
For the cost of taking the test you get two chances to pass. After some initial study, you should take the test and if you don’t pass, you’ll have a much better idea of the areas to work on.
Finally, a warning; New York City history is addicting! Pick up a book like Pete Hamill’s Downtown, and you’ll see how it draws you in. (You’ll also learn a lot from an amazing book!) We have many people with extraordinary depths of knowledge in our association, but no matter how long anyone studies the history of this great city, if they’re honest, they’ll admit that by the time they die, they’ll only have dug slightly beneath its surface – but they’ll also tell you that they’ve enjoyed every minute of the dig.