New York City Walking Tours
Walking tours around New York City that offer architectural and urban development insight in New York neighborhoods
New York City has many walking tours that will give the visitor and local alike a new appreciation of the sights and sounds that make up New York City.
The Municipal Art Society of New York offers many interesting and varied walking tours for around $15.
The First Walk
This walking tour remains the same as it was during very first MAS walk, developed and co-led by architectural historian and author Henry Hope Reed in April 1956. The tour was such a novelty that newspapers sent reporters to cover it. It begins in Madison Square, moves on to Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Square, and ends as the first tour did at the venerable Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place.
When New York City Was Actually "Nieuw Amsterdam"
Celebrating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival in 1609, examine the Dutch heritage of New York by walking the streets they established and discussing the Dutch legacy which was the foundation of our great commercial city. Hear about diverse early immigrant population and why street names like Stone, Bridge, Beaver, Pearl, and Maiden Lane are clues to our Dutch history.
42nd Street Deco
Midtown Manhattan’s major boulevard of Art Deco skyscrapers. Star architect of the walk is crusty modernist Raymond Hood; this tours visits three of his four skyscrapers - the Daily News, American Radiator, and old McGraw-Hill. Star building, once the world’s tallest, is the one and only Chrysler, whose architect, William van Allen, was once called the Ziegfeld of his profession. Also visited on this walking tour: the Chain and Paramount Pictures Buildings.
Night & Light in the City
Noted lighting designer Howard Brandston (his commissions include the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park City) leads an illuminating walking tour. Electric light can highlight architecture and increase livability, but not all light is created equal. Two sorts of lamps light New York’s streets and parks: metal halide, which is white light; and high pressure sodium, which is yellow. Experience the contrast between the two and learn why the streetscape committee of MAS favors white light for the city that never sleeps.
Give My Regards to Broadway
Walk the streets of “The Great White Way”, tracing the history of New York’s Broadway theater district from Oscar Hammerstein in the 1890s to Walt Disney in the 1990s to its latest configuration. See the great Broadway theaters built between the turn of the century and the onset of the great depression and become stunning works of art in themselves, and monuments to the lively history of American theater. The tour includes it all: theaters, skyscrapers, and city planning at its most creative.
New to New York: Lower Manhattan
Public funds and tax incentives are playing a central role in reshaping the character of Lower Manhattan’s civic center and financial district. This walk will consider both major and modest works beyond the confines of new apartment buildings and glassy office towers to intimate gardens and subway stations. Completed and ongoing projects will be examined, including notable projects by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Frank Gehry, and Rogers Marvel/Ken Smith.
From Lions to Lemurs: Greening a Landmark
The historic Lion House at the Bronx Zoo has been transformed into the home of the flora and fauna of Madagascar. In the process, it has also become the first New York City Landmark to receive LEED certification. The tour starts at the MAS and take an express bus to the Bronx Zoo to tour the Beaux-Arts landmark with Sue Chin, the zoo’s director of planning and design. Learn about the challenges of green design in a historic building and the additional challenges of designing for animals and plants.
The Plaza Hotel Inside & Outside
Join us for a tour of the renovated Plaza Hotel’s designated landmark interiors that have been beautifully restored to their designs by Henry J. Hardenbergh, Warre & Wetmore, and other architects. Included will be the Fifth Avenue lobby, the Palm Court, and the Oak Bar. The other part of the our looks at Grand Army Plaza where the hotel is situated. Laid out by Thomas Hastings, the plaza constrains the Pulitzer Fountain and the Sherman Monument, and is ringed by several of the city’s most impressive buildings.
Upper East Side Art Deco
Join us for an Art Deco walk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. We see some of the city’s earliest Deco apartment houses, including two by Blum & Blum, and the only apartment building designed by Raymond Hood (better known for the Daily News Building and Rockefeller Center). But it’s not just apartment buildings: we will also see the legendary Hotel Carlyle and one of Manhattan’s very few Art Deco town houses, designed by Harry Allen Jacobs. The tour closes with those fabulous East Side Deco emporia Bloomingdale’s and Tiffany’s.
Upstairs Downstairs: The Upper East Side
This walk examines the Upper East Side in all its variety, from the finest tree-lined blocks adjoining Central Park to First Avenue. After visiting a select group of memorable mansions and elite clubs, we cross Park Avenue, inspecting somewhat humbler carriage houses occupied by horses, grooms and chauffeurs, modest brownstones built for middle-class residents in the Treadwell Farm Historic District, and ending with the First Avenue Estate, an innovative social project built to house the working poor in 1989-1915. En route, we’ll discuss the impact of transit routes on various areas, as well as how individual blocks have changed.
Celebrate the influential German art schools 90th anniversary a few days early with stops at significant mid-20th century buildings in Midtown associated with its faculty, alumni, and influence on American design, including works by leading modern architects as Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and (almost) Marcel Breuer.
This Palm Sunday, we’ll take a look at the diverse New York congregations from the first Roman Catholic parish in New York to the first Jewish congregation, to the first Methodist congregation, which still worships on John St. The Episcopal Church began at Trinity Church and worships in New York’s oldest religious edifice, St. Paul’s Chapel. We’ll also visit sites connected with many other denominations, from Dutch Reformed to Greek Orthodox.
Go, Go, Gowanus
Back to the Bronx, Part 1: Mott Haven
Explore the wide banks of Brooklyn’s most famous canal. Before crossing one of the oldest retractile bridges in the United States, we’ll visit the Carroll Gardens Historic District, a singular brownstone enclave distinguished by a remarkable street plan. Learn the history of the canal and the surrounding, though faded, industrial zone.
In recent decades, planning and new buildings have begun to restore the viability of the South Bronx neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Melrose and Morrisania. This series of walking tours stresses renewal in response to basic urban geography. We’ll enter Mott Haven from harlem via the Third Ave Bridge and examine its transportation advantages and existing industrial fringe below the Bruckner Expressway. We’ll view historic preservation and redevelopment along Brook Ave. We’ll traverse its historic Hub, ending at the Bronx Terminal Market.
Queensborough Bridge Walking Tour
The consolidation of the Five Boroughs in 1898 was the catalyst for the building of monumental infrastructure that would bind the crowded center with outlying neighborhoods while transforming both in the process. The scale and scope of these projects were illustrative of the national Progressive Era “City Beautiful Movement” as well as new technology and aesthetic ideas. Explore this legacy as we celebrate the centennial of two of the era’s great bridges with a lecture and two walks across the neighborhoods they transformed. Meet at the Roosevelt Island Train Station, Second Ave. and East 59th St. $15, $10 MAS members. MAP
Downtown has been home to varied individuals, from George Washington to Diamond Jim Brady, from Captain Kidd to Mother Seton. We’ll visit sites connected with the early settlers, the Founding Fathers, famous New Yorkers, the first Jewish community and an area known as “Little Syria”.
Explore America’s first great seaside resort with its amusement parks and fine beach. Walk the boardwalk. View historic rides, Nathan’s Famous, the popular ball park and lots more. Learn about those who have lived, worked, and played here and consider what the future may hold for “Sodom by the Sea”.