Paris may be known as the “City of Lights,” but anyone who has ever been to New York City knows that the lights of Times Square give Paris a run for its money. The Night Tour from CitySights NY Night Tour starts off in the aforementioned Times Square, illuminated by stories-high billboards, blinking lights and glowing LCD screens. Pre-recorded narration is also available in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.
From Times Square the bus heads downtown, with the knowledgeable guide indicating points of interest along the way. Some sights are poignant, like Engine 54 — the firehouse that lost more men than any other on 9/11. Some are offbeat, like Grace Church (gorgeous by night) — where PT Barnum held a much publicized wedding between two little people, Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren Bump, in 1863.
Along with hitting the “expected” top sights like the Chrysler, Flatiron and Empire State Buildings in Midtown, this escorted tour continues over the Manhattan Bridge, treating passengers to a spectacular, camera-worthy skyline view from Brooklyn. The bus even pauses for a five-minute photo op.
Riders get a sense of the rich cultural melting pot that is Brooklyn, with a quick cruise down Atlantic Avenue, a peek at Brooklyn Heights and the marvelous Romanesque Revival architecture of the Brooklyn Post Office and courthouse. Heading back into Manhattan, observant riders will notice a replica of that New York icon, the water tower, crafted out of stained glass and sitting atop a building in DUMBO (the acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”).
Back in Manhattan, the bus heads uptown via the once gritty East Village. Participants might get to see the street best known as the Hell’s Angels block, the old home of CBGB’s, the original punk rock club and Cooper Union’s Great Hall, which has hosted a pageant of American luminaries from Abraham Lincoln to Christopher Hitchens.
Little surprises like the owl statue with the blinking eye light in Herald Square or the meaning of the changing colors of the Empire State Building — things only really noticeable at night — are what make this tour a must-see. Well, that and the lesson from the tour guide in “speaking Brooklyn!”
Approximately two hours
Lights of the Holiday Tours
From December 4, 2014 to January 3, 2015, the Night Tour will be replaced with the Lights of the Holiday Tour. The two-hour tour departs from 42nd Street and 7th Avenue every 25-30 minutes from 6pm to 8:30pm. A licensed guide will narrate the trip, filling you in on the rich history of NYC at the holidays. The special seasonal route varies from the usual Night Tour, and concentrates on the best places to see the lights, including Rockefeller Center and Times Square, of course.
Good for kids?
While there are enough lights and sights to keep children engaged, this two-hour, nighttime tour stops for no one. That’s right—no bathroom breaks. So gauge accordingly.
Did you know?
Over 170,000 people work in the Times Square District.
Times Square brings in 39 million visitors a year, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the world.
The first New Year’s Eve ball dropped in 1907.
Night Tour Pickup Hours and Location Information