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). During normal times ( not during 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.

Participants must 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 Tour In Celebration of Women's History Month!

Online event


Join us in a unique celebration of Women's History Month as we virtually visit some very special locations in New York City associated with individual women and social movements that have had a lasting impact on New York City, the U.S. and the world!

Our many stops include the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Building; (honoring the successful struggle for better working conditions in factories); New York Studio School (honoring visionary champions of American art Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Julianna Force); the homes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Emma Lazarus and Bella Abzug; and lower Manhattan sites associated with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; and Elizabeth Jennings, an African-American school teacher who was a 19th century Rosa Parks.

We'll also honor other groundbreaking women including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Billie Holiday, Emily Roebling, Shirley Chisholm and Nellie Bly, and lesser known women including Civil Rights leaders and activists Dorothy Haight and Elsie Richardson, 19th century photographer Alice Austen and artist Louise Nevelson.



Exploring Manhattan Valley and Bloomingdale: The Lesser Known West Side!

Note date changed from March 27th to one weel earlier on March 20th as the 27th is the first night of Passover.

This is the last in a series of three on-line tours to explore some of the neighborhoods that border Broadway in honor of the Broadway Mall Association, a non-profit organization that keeps this linear park beautiful from 72nd Street to 168th Streets with plantings, landscaping and art exhibits. Read more about BMA here: http://www.broadwaymall.org/home/

This online presentation covers West[masked]th Street between Riverside Drive and Central Park West and explores two neighborhoods that perhaps don’t get the respect and attention they deserve. This diverse and dynamic community has been revitalized over the past two decades thanks to neighborhood residents and businesses.

Discover some cool new places to eat, a great jazz club, and how to get lost in the wild and elusive Northwest corner of Central Park! There’s some fascinating history as well!

We’ll be sure to "stop by" the homes of George Gershwin and Humphrey Bogart, as well as the house where Duke Ellington used as a business office composed songs. We’ll enjoy the solitude of Strauss Park which honors the former owners of Macy’s who once lived in the area, and other lesser known West Side landmarks and attractions, such as: the delightful Manhattan Avenue Historic District; a church with some of the loveliest Tiffany windows anywhere; Association Residence (today North America’s largest hostel); a rare free standing mansion on Riverside Drive; and a statue that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Cheers from Hank


Past events (431)

Photos (17,188)