Factory tours

Like Mister Rogers in the crayon factory, we love assembly lines.

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Date: October 12, 2009 4:41:33 PM
To: inyc@timeoutny.com
Subject: Tours

Are there any factories in New York I could take my family to visit?

Ann W.

Best Made Company
Do you have an aspiring Brawny man in your life? Take them to visit Manhattan’s couture ax makers. Guided by cofounder Peter Buchanan-Smith, tours show off the design process from inception to finished product and give a peek at the company’s wall of inspiration. The owners think of tours as a way to share their vision and converse with patrons, so questions are required. So is a commitment, since the free by-appointment tours are only for customers or those on their mailing list, or as they call them, “members of the tribe.” 368 Broadway between Franklin and White Sts, suite 514 (bestmadeco.com, e-mail graeme@bestmadeco.com for tour requests); free with purchase or sign-up

Steinway & Sons
Founded in 1853, this company knows so much about making pianos that it holds 126 patents on the process, and Steinways are the only ivories owned by the Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. On the free two-hour tour, watch the step-by-step process of creating a baby grand, including the assembly of the wooden shell and the stringing of each note. 1 Steinway Pl at 38th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-721-2600, steinway.com); free

The Brooklyn Brewery
Closed to the public during the week, the Brooklyn Brewery opens its doors on weekend afternoons, with free 20-minute tours available. Founded in 1987 when a reporter and banker decided to quit their jobs and brew suds instead, it’s one of the few commercial breweries in the city. Post tour, join the crowds purchasing tokens for beer (one beer for $4 or six for $20) to taste the standard and seasonal styles on tap. Kids can come learn and start counting the days until they can legally partake of the brew. 79 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-7422, brooklynbrewery.com); free

The Madame Alexander Doll Company
More than 600 dolls created over a span of 80 years are on display in the Heritage Gallery at the Madame Alexander Doll Company in Harlem. Take a 30-minute free look, or schedule a longer tour ($8) to see the complete behind-the-scenes doll-making process, learning how the hair is rooted, the faces painted and the itty-bitty clothing made—plus how everything is mended at the famous doll hospital. 615 W 131st St at Broadway (212-283-5900, madamealexander.com); price varies

UrbanGlass
Founded in 1977, UrbanGlass was revolutionary in welcoming all artists, students or not, into its workrooms, and now hosts more than 350 craftsmen each year. See a variety of glassworking techniques on a group tour—it might include glassblowing, hot casting, kiln casting, lamp-working, fusing, slumping, neon manufacturing, mosaic designs, stained glass and cold-working. Regularly scheduled open houses include a free workshop visit and demo—the next event will be February 6—while group tours anytime start at $25 for five guests; private tours can be arranged on request. 647 Fulton St at Rockwell Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-625-3685, urbanglass.org); price varies

Jacques Torres Chocolate
There are no Oompa Loompas on staff, but you can get your candy-factory-tour fix at Jacques Torres, where the entire chocolate-making procedure is done inside the store. Only a glass wall separates you from the restored vintage chocolate-making equipment still used by the company, but you’ll have to shell out to taste the sweet vittles. 350 Hudson St at King St (212-414-2462, mrchocolate.com); free

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