About Tenements, Tales, and Tastes - A Tour of New York's Lower East Side
Come experience, the sounds, sights, and tastes of the original melting pot – Manhattan's Lower East Side. You would be hard pressed to find a walking tour more diverse than this one, which takes you on a three hour journey through the history of immigration in New York City from the colonial era to the present.
The tour kicks off next to City Hall (birthplace of thousands of new American citizens over the years) with a traditional snack of stroopwafels, a specialty from the Netherlands, to honor the first European immigrants to New York, the Dutch. Thus fortified, you'll make your way deeper into the heart of the Lower East Side neighborhoods now known as Chinatown and Little Italy, whose narrow, tenement-lined streets have welcomed waves of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Italy, and Ireland, and China (to name a few) for visits to ancient synagogues, a 100-year-old bakery, an African burial ground and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The Lower East Side is also currently home to a vibrant Latino community, and the Essex Street market, another stop on your journey, reflects the tastes of this heritage.
Bring your appetite, because your journey through history is served with a heaping side of tacos, knishes, dumplings, and other delicious foods reflecting the colorful, unique, global hodge-podge that is Manhattan's Lower East Side.
In May 2013, Urban Oyster took over the NYC operations of Urban Adventures, a global tour franchise currently operating in 80 cities worldwide that offers off-the-beaten path local tours. Tenements, Tales, and Tastes is the first tour developed by Urban Oyster under the new brand, and offers the same one-of-a-kind, local, and sustainable perspective as all the tours and events developed by Urban Oyster since its founding in 2008. With the goal of supporting local businesses and preserving neighborhood histories, Urban Oyster offers group walking tours and themed harbor sails, as well as private events and tours, all of which support local business while offering tour goers an utterly incomparable journey through some of New York's most authentic locales.
The Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour is offered seven days a week from 10am to 1pm, and has a maximum capacity of 12 individuals. Plenty of food tastings (and a bottle of water to wash it down) will be provided on the tour, so bring your appetite! Tours must be purchased in advance, and you need to bring your voucher to present to your local tour guide. You must also confirm your tour with Urban Adventures 24 hours in advance. Tenements, Tales and Tastes will take place rain or shine, and involves over a mile of walking, so wear comfortable footwear and dress appropriately for the weather. Cameras are welcome and encouraged, as is shopping at local businesses along the tour route. No dogs are allowed. Note that the price of the tour does not include gratuity, so if you're happy with your tour guide's services then it is customary (though not compulsory) to offer a tip.
Did you know?
Dutch settlers built Fort Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan in 1625 to protect the mouth of the Hudson River from competing colonial powers; New York was originally called "New Amsterdam."
The building at 97 Orchard Street, now part of the Tenement Museum, is a time capsule: in 1935, unwilling to bring the building up to code, the owner sealed off all upper floors and windows, leaving only the stoop-level and basement storefronts open for business. No changes at all were made to the building until the Museum discovered the building in 1988.
This tour is perfect for visitors to New York City who want to learn more about the unique history of its residents and who are looking for an off-the-beaten path experience in one of New York City's most diverse neighborhoods. Locals interested in exploring a new part of their own city, or learning more about its rich immigrant history, will also enjoy this tour.
Good for kids?
Children are absolutely welcome on the Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour, and will appreciate this lively (and tasty) look at New York City's history. Given the location, amount of walking, and nature of the tour, it is most appropriate for children ages eight and over. (Children age 12 and over must purchase an adult ticket.)
East Side of City Hall Location Information:
New York, NY 10007
Begins: East Side of City Hall, on the west side of Centre Street, facing the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge by the Wafels and Dinges Cart
Nearest Subway: 4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall
Ends: Grand & Chrystie St.
Nearest Subway: B, D to Grand Street