What we're about

OVERVIEW

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.

WAIVER OF LIABILITY

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 (4+)

Special Tour: Following in the Footsteps of Abraham Lincoln on his Birthday!

Note new start and ending time and locations!

Space is set aside for first timers and new members who land on the waiting list. Note that there is a $5 contribution to the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims for the tour payable by cash the day of the event. Otherwise, donations are warmly accepted for your organizer and guide for the remainder of the tour.

Required: Proof of full vaccination. Bring a mask and water and snacks if you like. We will take the subway from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn so please have a valid metrocard. This tour entails about 3 miles of walking.

Meeting place at 10am is outside the Barnes and Noble at Union Square. It open at 9am - restrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Make sure to be on time so check your travel route in advance.

TOUR DESCRIPTION

In honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday which also falls within Black History Month I have designed this unique walking tour. The grand finale will be an approximate 45 minute tour of the historic Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights (built[masked]), which was one of the most important abolitionist congregations and was part of the Underground Railroad and was led by the fiery preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Abraham Lincoln visited there twice. We will visit his pew.

Starting from Union Square at 10am we'll make our way downtown as we follow in Lincoln's footsteps. We'll stop at Cooper Union (pictured above) where he delivered his famous and pivotal speech on February 27, 1860 as a candidate for President. We will visit site of the Astor House Hotel, where Lincoln stayed during his first visit to New York, Other sites include: The House of Industry (demolished) in the Five Points where Lincoln visited destitute children; the site of photographer Matthew Brady's studio (where he took those famous photos of Lincoln); and also the Knox store, where he purchased his famous top hat.

We'll mix in some Civil War History as it relates to NYC along with the city's African American History. Spectacular and iconic architecture along the route as well!

Neighborhoods: A bit of Brooklyn Heights, Manhattan's Civic Center, SOHO, NOHO and Union Square.

Cheers from Hank[masked]
[masked]

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Heart of Harlem Tour Celebrating Black History Month + Optional Jazz Concert

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

RSVPs begin Saturday February 4th at 10:00am. Space set aside for new members, first and 2nd timers who land on the waiting list.

This tour is free with a voluntary constribution to your guide. If you have been on a similar Harlem tour with our group in the past, kindly allow others to attend! We will be covering the Central Harlem area between 118th - 138th streets. Thanks!

To bring: Proof of full vaccination, a mask (if needed at indoor venues), something to eat and drink if you like.

If you need to use a restroom, arrive early. Our meeting place is in front of the Schomburg Branch of the NY Public library (free admission, restrooms). Come earlier should you wish to come inside and see the exhibits. The library opens at 10:00am. Details on their website: https://www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg

DESCRIPTION

This guided walk will cover the rich history of Harlem along with tits magnificent architecture, restaurant scene, culture and nightlife.

The guided walking tour (approximately 3.5 miles of walking, level terrain), will last from 11:00am to approximately 2:00pm and will include visits to several historic districts and stops associated with iconic Harlem figures including Cicely Tyson, Billie Holiday, Malcolm X, Madame C.J. Walker, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes. We'll also learn about Harlem's rich contributions to music and jazz and learn how Harlem saved the life of Dr. King.

The tour will end convenient to transportation at 125th Street and places to eat.

After the tour: 2:00pm - 3:30pm: Optional free indoor jazz concert in honor of Black History Month at the recreation center at Marcus Garvey Park. Description below:

"Sean Mason is a jazz pianist and composer based in New York City, quickly emerging as one of the premier talents of his generation. Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sean took to the piano at age 13, teaching himself to play by ear the music of his upbringing; gospel, R&B & soul which quickly evolved into a highly original jazz style. Sean’s unique voice in jazz is steeped in southern culture, giving extended time for groove without needing to fill in the space, while also displaying a range of vocabulary far beyond his years."

Thank you for your cooperation.

Your organizer and guide,

Hank
[masked][masked]

The Corona Queens Experience! The Louis Armstrong House to the Queens Museum

Louis Armstrong House & Museum

RSVPs open 3 weeks before the event on Saturday, February 4th at 5:00pm. Space is set aside for new members and first timers who land on the waiting list. Please bring proof of full vaccination and a mask in case it is required by the museums. Please also bring $10.00 cash as the guided tour of the Louis Armstrong House.

The tour is also specially designed to honor African American History Month. Bring an easy-to-eat lunch if you like. We will have a stop where you can grab a bite (see below). Total walking distance: approximately 4 miles, level terrain.

The Louis Armstrong's House-Museum, truly a one-of-a-kind place to experience the home of our greatest musicians who was also a fascinating person, along with learning about his wife Lucille. He grew up poor in New Orleans and despite becoming both successful and wealthy, the Armstrongs chose to live in a modest house in a working class neighborhood.

Louis Armstrong House: Tour begin at 11:30am so I have scheduled our start time for 11:15am to allow time for restrooms and to pay your admission fee. We will split into two groups for a more comfortable experience. It's a modest size house.

After our approximately one hour house tour we'll traverse the Corona neighborhood and learn about its unique history from 17th century farms to urbanization and waves of immigrants from Italy and Latin American and the Caribbean. Corona has been home to famous jazz musicians and Louis Comfort Tiffany's glass factory and studio.

Food: We'll maks a stop at Leo's Latticini, a traditional Italian deli that's been around for over 100 years. There's also abundant Latin American food and street food that you might find appetizing.

We'll head toward the Queens Museum, situated in Flushing Meadow Park, site of the New York World's Fair in 1939 and 1964. There's a lot to see at the Queens Museum, including the current exhibits plus their permanent collection which includes the famous "Panorama of NYC" ( a scale model of our entire city) and their extensive Tiffany glass lamp collection.

DIRECTIONS TO THE LOUIS ARMSTRONG HOUSE MUSEUM: By Subway: Take the 7 train to 103 St-Corona Plaza. Choose the exit on the north side of Roosevelt Avenue, and then take the stairs on your left. Make a right (north) onto 103rd Street. Walk two blocks and make a right onto 37th Avenue. Walk 4 short blocks and make a left onto 107th Street. The Museum is on the left side, 1/2 block north of 37th Avenue.

Schedule:
11:15am: Arrive, pay admission, use restroom
11:30am - 12:45pm: Guided House Tour
12:45pm - 3:30pm: Walking Tour of Corona, Queens (including a food stop).
3:30pm - 4:30pm (estimated). Optional visit to the Queens Museum which lies within Flushing Meadow Corona Park. The #7 train is about a 20 minute walk to the Willets Point Station (also if you opt out of the museum visit). Admission is free with voluntary contribution. They request that visitors obtain a ticket online.
https://queensmuseum.org/

Driving directions and other info about the museum and the area here:
https://www.louisarmstronghouse.org

Thank you for your cooperation.

Your organizer and guide.

Hank[masked]
[masked]

Exploring the Gansevoort Market Historic District and a Visit to a Local Gallery

This is rescheduled from February 4th!

Space is set aside for new members, first and second timers who land on the waiting list provding there ar still spots open. This tour is free with a voluntar donation to your organizer/guide.

Required: Proof of full COVID vaccination and boosters. Bring a mask (optional to wear since we are outdoors).

Description: The Gansevoort Market area, or Meatpacking District for a small area has quite a colorful history. A one time a Lenape Indian trading post on the Hudson Riverfront, the Americans built Fort Gansevoort in 1812 (demolished) to protect Manhattan from attack by the British. Later in the 19th century the area became a busy farmer's market along with both heavy and light industry, slaughterhouses and of course meatpacking. In the 1970's it became a notorious nightclub district with prostitution.

In recent decades the district has been transformed with the opening of the High-Line and the Whitney Museum, restaurants, several hotels and fashion desiger stores and other upscale retail.

Itinerary:

11:00am: Meet outside the Little Island Park's southerly entrance - Pier 54. If you wish to visit the Little Island at least to use the restrooms be sure to come early! It opens at 6am. You will find directions on this website: https://littleisland.org/

11:00am - 1:00pm: Guided walk around the district taking in the history, architecture and current activity (and a touch of the far west Village and its quaint streets).

1:00pm: Visit to the Local Fort Gansevoort Art Gallery. Artist description is below (courtesy of the gallery):

Haitian artist Myrlande Constant will display “Drapo” at Fort Gansevoort Gallery in Manhattan, its first solo exhibition with Constant, who has attracted international attention for dazzling handbeaded and sequin-embroidered textile works in which heritage techniques are used to mingle contemporary and traditional themes. Fort Gansevoort Gallery said the evolution of Constant’s personal aesthetic and mastery of her medium will be evident in monumental new pieces juxtaposed with examples from earlier in the artist’s career. Constant’s work was recently showcased in the Venice Biennale exhibition The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani (April 23— Nov. 27, 2022).

Cheers!

Your organizer and guide,

Hank Orenstein
[masked][masked]

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