What we're about


This is a group for people either new to New York City, or have called the city home for awhile and are interested in discovering new neighborhoods and learning more about the city's fascinating history, architecture and culture. Most of our activities are professionally-guided walks of 3 - 5 miles within a NYC neighborhood that has distinct and unique qualities. They usually last from 2 to 4 hours. We sometimes have an optional social hour afterwards for a meal and/or a beverage at a local restaurant (except during COVID-19 for safety reasons). Barring any COVID-19 restrictions, during the summer months we usually combine a walk with a free outdoor concert, often in the evenings. During the winter we'll have shorter outdoor walks coupled with a museum visit ( if permitted under COVID-19 guidelines for indoor activities).

I also organize theme tours to add some spice and variety to honor holidays or famous New Yorkers. Our events are usually free with a voluntary donation of a dollar or two. When we have museum visits there may be an admission charge.

I started this group because I am a native New Yorker and have a successful dual career as a professional tour guide and real estate agent and I am affiliated with the prestigious Corcoran Group, which was started by pioneering entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran. I had a 25-year career as a social worker, including work in the South Bronx and throughout Brooklyn, and served on the teaching faculty of Columbia University, Fordham University, New School University, Hunter College and NYC Technical College.

I have a B.A, in English and a Master's Degree in Social Work, and have also been an exhibited visual artist with a focus on experimental and landscape photography. I love to introduce people to new neighborhoods and explore their past, present and future and also welcome the opportunity to learn from others. With the fast-pace of life here it is easy to overlook the hidden treasures and iconic buildings that we pass by every day. While I have a repertoire of touring a good 70 neighborhoods, I especially love Harlem (where I spent my formative years) due its many different areas, amazing history and beautiful architecture. Other favorites include the West Village, Lower Manhattan (where the City's history began), Flatiron/Gramercy, Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, Long Island City, the East Village and Washington Heights.


Your participation in the activities of Exploring NYC History and Neighborhoods acknowledges that you are solely responsible for your own assessment of your abilities and your physical fitness and health to participate in that activity.

As I have resumed in-person tours, proof of full vaccination is required to participate. You should also be physically fit and be able to walk several miles at a moderate pace. Given the added importance of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important that participants are capable of being keenly observant of their surroundings.

There are always inherent risks that can cause or lead to injury, property damage, illness *including the coronavirus*, emotional trauma, disability or death to participants or others when participating in an activity. Some, but not all of these risks include: hazardous and unpredictable ground, water or weather conditions, traffic conditions, misjudgments made by the leader or a participant, the potential that a participant or others may act carelessly or recklessly, etc. etc.

Hank Orenstein and Exploring NYC History and Neighborhoods cannot assure a participant’s safety or eliminate any of these risks. The participant is voluntarily participating in our activities with knowledge of these risks, and therefore the participant must accept full responsibility for the inherent and other risks (both known and unknown) of these activities, and for any injury, damage, death or other loss suffered by the participant.

By joining any event conducted by Hank Orenstein/Exploring NYC History and Neighborhoods, the participant agrees to release and indemnify Exploring NYC History and Neighborhoods and/or Hank Orenstein with regard to any and all claims, liabilities, suits, or expenses (including reasonable costs and attorney’s fees) for any injury, property damage, illness including the coronavirus, emotional trauma, disability or death to participants or others in any way connected with the participation in an activity.

Upcoming events (2)

Online Event! The Magical Holiday History Tour! How NYC Re-Invented Christmas

Link visible for attendees

This event is free with immediate registration.

Repeated and updated from last year's presentation! Join us for this fun and festive online event as we learn about the history of NYC's holiday traditions going back to the 1600s during the time of Dutch colonial rule and and which stores started it all - along with how Santa Claus and public Christmas Trees were popularized in NYC well over 100 years ago.

From the 19th century stories of Washington Irving and Thomas Nast's cartoons along with the tradition of department store windows, creativity via art, literature and poetry as well as commercialism has played a role in making the holiday season in NYC like no other.

Note that you do not need a zoom account to participate, just the link which is posted on the event page and will also be emailed to you prior to the event. The link is only visible for those who have RSVPd. Please do not share the link via email with anyone or post it which helps prevent hackers.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Hank Orenstein
Licensed NYC Sightseeing Guide[masked]

Enjoy the Legendary Holiday Lights of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn!

RSVPs open Monday, December 5th at 8:00pm. Space set aside for new members and first and 2nd timers who land on the waiting list. If you have a guest they must sign up separately. Make sure to indicate in your RSVP if you plan to come early so I can give Pipin's Pub a head's up.

Why Monday night? It is usually a bit less crowded with tour buses and other visitors. Transportation time-saving hint: You can take the N express to 59th Street and change for the R across the platform or the D to 36th Street.

New people and first timers since COVID began, bring proof of full vaccination. Mask wearing optional.

Please no repeats if you have done this tour previously or have see the Dyker Heights lights before.

Our tour and walk begins at Pipin's Bar-Restaurant at 7:30pm with an optional holiday toast and social gathering for a drink and/or a meal between 6:00pm and 7:30pm. If you are planning to eat do arrive by 6:30pm. The tour is free with an optional donation to your guide at the end.

To peruse the menu: https://www.pipinsbayridge.com/
Monday is $11.00 burger night. Not listed is the plant based Beyond Burger. Prices are all very reasonable and I have eaten here. Friendly and spacious neighborhood place serving typical pub food: salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees like fish and chips and shepherd's pie.

If not your cup of tea there are other places to grab a bite nearby such as Nonno's Pizza next store.


Tis' the season to enjoy the amazing lights of the residential neighborhoods of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge Brooklyn! Are they garish, beautiful, kitschy, over-the-top, spectacular or all of the above? You be the judge! We'll walk a good 2 miles and enjoy some holiday cheer along some neighorhood and Brooklyn history for good measure!

Even if you are not joining us early for food and drink make sure to arrive a little early if you wish to use the restoom.

Cheers from Hank

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