With a city as large and diverse as New York, residents and guests love to share their home with those outside of the five boroughs. In this age of social media posting, this has never seemed easier. Picture-aggregation site Instagram has consistently rated the city as the most pictured place by its users. Other media services also record high numbers of New York attractions appearing in its collections. With so many places to see, Sights by Sam is the perfect way to snap that selfie or get that perfect photo of New York. Among some of the sites Sights by Sam can show:
Times Square can be seen on a tour of “Midtown Manhattan”, by day or by night. In addition to seeing the bright lights and the waves of people and traffic flowing through the bowtie-shaped intersection, guests will also be able to take their pictures with WWI hero Father Francis Duffy or with Broadway composer virtuoso George Cohan. Guests will also learn why this intersection is called “Times Square” and be able to understand the rise, fall, and new rise of this storied junction.
For those who like nature in the city, Central Park is often a great spot to snap and share photos. Sights by Sam’s “Central Park” tour shows off the emerald jewel of Manhattan in all its glory. Guests will learn about the purpose behind the formation of the park, its decline, and its great resurgence that continues to this day. In addition to learning about the park’s history (and the plants and critters that make the park their home), guests can also get pictures on the Oak Bridge, Bethesda Terrace/Angel of the Waters, and the Mall, among other iconic spots. For something different, visitors on Sights by Sam can even snap pics with a castle in the middle of Manhattan or with some of the most pampered trees in the city.
On Sights by Sam’s “Architecture: Building New York” tour, guests will learn about New York architecture, including some of Midtown’s highest peaks, and learn a bit of environmental and industrial history along the way.. Perhaps the biggest star of the tour is the ground the group actually walks upon—the High Line linear park, a repurposed train viaduct through the Far West Side and the Meatpacking District. This park has quickly become the new star attraction in Manhattan, connecting the new Hudson Yards area with the Whitney Museum of American Art. There is no perfect spot for selfies and pics; indeed, the entire tour is perfect for them.
In addition to all of these main sites, Sights by Sam provides a plethora of great places to photograph such as the Unisphere in Queens, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, or the birthplace of hip hop in the Bronx (along with the NYC version of the Champs Elysees). Find your perfect spot with a Sights by Sam walking tour.
In addition to having some of the greatest museums in the country and the world, New York is blessed with an abundance of public art. Many artists are drawn to the city (and arts are funded by both private donors as well as the local government). This leads to many great public art displays (sanctioned by the government, companies, property owners, and some unsanctioned displays). Public art can be seen in all five boroughs.
The city has been the site of several large public art installations. These have proliferated since the early 1980s when the city passed a “Percent for Art” law in 1982 that mandated that city-funded construction projects must have a set-aside of one percent of the budget for public artwork. This is also supplemented by a similar program by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA Arts and Design). What this means is that there are many art installations and pieces in front of city-owned buildings and in subway stations. Over the years, several have been controversial, such as a sculpture in the Civic Center called Tilted Arc, which was a 120’ long block of cor-tenn steel across a plaza, which was removed after a court trial. One of the most famous pieces was done in 2005 by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park called The Gates, which contained 7,503 orange gates spread throughout the park.
Much of New York’s public art not found in front of city-owned buildings or sponsored by companies can be traced to the work of the city’s Public Art Fund. Founded in 1977 by Doris C. Freedman, the Public Art Fund is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring public art to spaces across all five boroughs. The goal of the organization is to bring contemporary art to the population of the city. A popular space for the public art fund to exhibit its works are at the entrance to Central Park at Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan and at Brooklyn Bridge Park near the eponymous bridge. Some of the most famous/most talked about pieces include New York City Waterfalls in 2006 and the 2017-2018 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors sculptures by Ai Weiwei.
As New York is full of art, visitors are able to see art on any Sights by Sam tour. Reserve your place on one of the exciting Sights by Sam walking tour by calling +1 (917) 242-8421, or through sightsbysam.com today.
It is not surprising that since New York has people from all over the country and world, our food would match the uniqueness and variety of the city. The cuisine of the city consists of dishes and snacks like hot dogs, General Tso’s chicken, bagels, and coffee—among many others. Perhaps the quintessential New York dish is pizza. Owing to its status as the major entry point for many Italian Americans and as a major center of culture in the United States, pizza spread from New York in the late 1800s and throughout the country.
While there is dispute as to which great American city has the best pizza (Chicago and Detroit come to mind), New York has a style typified by a thin crust, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. This type of pizza is also often cooked in a coal-fired oven. It has been said that the water in New York has unique properties that make the pizza dough tasty, although this has not been conclusively proven. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi founded Lombardi’s Pizza, considered by historians and pizza enthusiasts to be the oldest pizzeria in the United States. Many pizzerias descended from Lombardi’s. One of the most prolific but unrelated pizza restaurants in the city is the preponderance of “Ray’s” locations throughout the city that are seen and patronized by natives and visitors alike.
For individuals looking for a New York experience, there are dozens of different and great options for pizza in the city. Some of the best pizza joints originated on Staten Island, but good pizza can be found throughout the other boroughs as well. To experience pizza the proper New York way, it is customary to fold the pizza slice inward and consume. Food tours can be requested through Sights by Sam tours, where you can eat and learn many things on a special request tour.
Meandering from New York to the Adirondack Mountains for 315 miles, the Hudson River has formed a pivotal role in the history of New York City and New York State. The river is prominently featured on the state flag and seal and named after the first European to travel it—Henry Hudson. The river has formed an important link to the city and other communities in the state and led New York City to become the largest and richest city in the country.
The Hudson was important to the first humans in the region—the Native Americans living in New York used it for transportation in addition to hunting the wildlife around the river and harvesting fish from within. In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river to where Troy, New York, just north of Albany, is today. The river became important to trade as it linked New Amsterdam (New York City) and Fort Orange (Albany) together and would remain important through the Colonial and Antebellum Eras. During the Revolutionary War, the Hudson would form a strategic choke point to cut off the British from splitting New England off from the rest of the American colonies (the Americans used a large chain strung across the river to stop the Royal Navy from conquering the area). This choke point is now the location of the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. Before the dominance of railroads in the later 1800s, several canals were built by the federal and state governments to enhance transportation, making New York City a major port for inland goods in addition to goods from abroad.
Industry would spring up along the river after the Civil War. This would lead to many large factories positioned on the river. Companies such as IBM and General Electric would build facilities on the Hudson and ended up polluting the river. The unclean waters led to the death of many fish that made up the local ecosystem. Since the 1980s, there have been many remediation efforts to restore marine life to the river. With the change in manufacturing and transportation, the volume of shipping on the Hudson has also decreased significantly—as evident by only passenger cruise ships, pleasure craft, and barge traffic on the once busy Manhattan waterfront. This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.
New York City is by far the largest city in the United States. Overseeing hundreds of square miles of territory and providing for the safety of over eight million people is no small task. The city has a budget of well over $70 billion and an army of over 300,000 municipal workers (including but not limited to police, firefighters, sanitation workers, and park workers) to help maintain the city. So how does the city work?
The mayor is elected every four years by all of his citizens of the city and is responsible for executing their laws. The mayor is the nominal head of 32 city agencies and sits as a board member on 29 cultural attractions in town. Since the 1930s, the mayor has often delegated power to deputy mayors in an effort to run the city smoothly. If the mayor is unable or unwilling to perform his duty, the public advocate, a citywide elected position which functions as an ombudsman, would take that role. All city voters also elect a comptroller who is the chief financial officer of the city.
In terms of legislation, New York City residents are represented by 51 councilmembers. Each member has a district containing over 150,000 residents. The council is divided into several committees and passes legislation for the city. The council elects a speaker to act as the body’s leader. Like in the federal House of Representatives, bills are sent to the mayor for signature to become law. The council can also override a mayoral veto.
Because New York is made up of five boroughs, both the city and state of New York have courts in each of the five boroughs. The voters of each borough elect a district attorney. Federal courts are located in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. Each borough also has an elected borough president (who in turn has an advisory committee made up of council members and community members). While these offices are ceremonial, the borough presidents can introduce legislation in the city council and work as cheerleaders for their respective borough. Each neighborhood in the city is also part of one of 59 community boards that meet periodically to discuss local issues and recommend action, but are merely advisory in nature.
This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour. See where the city government meets on our “Foundation of New York” tour.
The New York Yankees, one of the original franchises of the American League, have played in Yankee Stadium since 1923. Since moving into the “House that Ruth Built,” that year, they have won nearly three dozen World Series while at this temple of baseball. Over the years, the original Yankee Stadium was remodeled and renovated. In 2009, the Yankees moved into a new Yankee Stadium.
The new stadium replicated the original 1923 design, along with replicas of the copper arches that grace the top of the stadium near the floodlights. The ultimate shrine to the Yankees, Monument Park, was also relocated to the new grounds as well. Even Red Sox fans will appreciate the monuments to 37 Yankees of yore. There are also many food choices and amenities at the park. On the field, the Yankees have succeeded in living up to their history, winning the World Series at the park in 2009—its inaugural season. In 2015, Major League Soccer team N.Y.C.F.C. began play at Yankee Stadium.
Building the stadium was not without controversy as it cost $1B to complete—making it one the most expensive stadium projects in history. The stadium was also built across from the old Yankee Stadium—on land that was formerly a public park, causing considerable controversy in the Bronx.
Around the stadium are several other notable things to see in the area are the Bronx County Courthouse (an art deco gem) and the stately Grand Concourse. This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.
Connecting Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, the Triborough Bridge links these three boroughs and forms an important transportation link between Long Island, New England, New Jersey, and the city. The bridge was a marvel of engineering and led to the rise and fall of Robert Moses.
The three bridges come together on Wards and Randalls island. Built between 1929 and 1936, the bridge complex was designed by Othmar Amman connecting the island to Manhattan with a lift bridge, the Bronx with an arch-type bridge, and a suspension bridge connecting Queens. The project actually almost never happened until Robert Moses was placed in charge, getting the complex and politically charged bridge finally completed. You can read more about the Triborough Bridge on the Sights by Sam entry on Robert Moses.
In 2008, the bridge was renamed after assassinated New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The bridge typically handles over 160,000 cars every weekday. It is one of the most popular routes for motorists to get to LaGuardia Airport in Queens. This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.
In today’s society where many manufactured goods are made in the South and West of the U.S. or come into the country in containers on great ships, manufacturing in New York City seems to be a foreign concept. On the contrary, the city has a long and industrious (no pun intended) history.
Being at the epicenter of a major port and with an incoming labor from overseas and across the country, New York became a major industrial hub. Manufacturing was concentrated on the West Side of Manhattan and in Brooklyn, among other locations. The industrial heritage of the city is still evident in the many lofts that dot Lower Manhattan, Williamsburg, and the Brooklyn waterfront. Unlike many other cities, New York had many varied industries, which helped the city weather downturns in a particular industry. With that said, the industries tended not to be heavy such as steel manufacturing—with concentration on food processing, consumer goods and durable goods among others.
From a high point in the first half of the 1900s, manufacturing declined over time in the city due to a combination of companies moving to Right to Work states in the South and West, the rising price of real estate in the city/confined building sites, and more liberalized international trade. Statistics by the Wall Street Journal indicate that manufacturing employs a little under 80,000 in the city—far down from 190,000 thirty years ago. Statistics indicate that this sector is growing in the city and is focused on high end goods. This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.
In the Bronx covering 250 acres is the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). This living museum contains one million living plants. Although not on the immediate itinerary of most visitors, its holiday train show and beauty in spring and fall should be seen by visitors to the city.
The NYBG was founded in 1891. It sits on land once part of the vast Lorillard Estate, which was set aside on the freshwater Bronx River (the only freshwater river in the city limits). Wealthy New Yorkers felt that the NYBG would help to improve the city and preserve a pristine area of the city in the face of rapid expansion of the city. The collection of plants encompasses several habitats from all over the world in addition to one of the only old-growth forest groves left in the city. Many specimens are located in the large Enid Haupt Conservatory, which was completed in 1902 and gained its current name in 1978 after Mrs. Haupt gave money to save it from demolition.
The NYBG is not only for displaying plants, but also contains large botanical research facilities as well as the largest library in the U.S. specifically concerning plants and related matter. There is also a large facility on the grounds that has frozen DNA samples for research purposes. This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.
With the beginning of November, the focus of many becomes the holiday season. Christmas lights go up, ads with fashion models in holiday colors appear on billboards and on public transportation, and store windows along Fifth Avenue go to war with each other over which is the most over-the-top display of Season’s Greetings. As New York is the country’s largest city, it lays claim over several important Christmas traditions.
In the press and writing, New York can lay claim to one of the first modern interpretations of Santa Claus through NYC native Clement Clark Moore’s 1823 poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” which describes the lovable Santa Claus most people recognize delivering gifts from house to house on his sleigh pulled by reindeer. Santa’s existence and reputation was solidified in an 1897 editorial from the New York Sun, entitled “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” This editorial, reprinted on Christmas Day by most New York papers, is believed to be the most reprinted editorial in history. Many neighborhoods ring in holiday cheer with residents of some Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst putting up large Christmas and holiday light displays in front of their homes.
Perhaps the quintessential symbol of the holiday season in New York is the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. The first tree was a small, 20 foot tree raised by construction workers at Rockefeller Center in 1931 by workers building the complex. First raised officially in 1933, the tree is usually a Norway Spruce between 70 and 100 feet tall. In recent years, it has been harvested from New York State or a neighboring state, but it has come from further afield in the past. The tree, which is crowned by a massive star made of Swarovski crystal, is up for display in the middle of November and lit the day after Thanksgiving. The tree is in the court in the middle of Rockefeller Center and is near the famous ice rink, a must-see for any visitor to the city during this time.
Many visitors come to New York this time of the year to see the city at what many would say is at its best. In addition to shopping and seeing the city in its spectacular holidays decorations, it is also a great idea to take a Sights by Sam walking tour of the city—especially a nightly holiday tour that will run from December 1st to December 31st. You are able to book this tour at sightsbysam.com.