Spring walking tours

It's finally warm! Get out of your apartment and take to the city on foot: The season's newest walking tours will give you lessons in criminal activity, subway art and more.

  • Atlantic Terminal

  • Mark Twain

  • Mark Twain plaque

  • Cooper Union

  • Lucky Luciano

  • Birth of Organized Crime Walking Tour

  • Birth of Organized Crime Walking Tour

  • Rub BBQ

  • Chelsea Hotel

  • Chelsea Brewing Company

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Fifth Avenue

  • Rub BBQ

  • Katz's Delicatessen

Atlantic Terminal

Arts for Transit: Atlantic Terminal
It’s hard to appreciate the random bits of art on the subway—the work of the MTA’s Arts for Transit program—when you’re trudging through your daily commute. But you can now: To celebrate the project’s 25 years, the Municipal Art Society will host six explorations of the system’s most notable permanent exhibits. On this jaunt, you’ll explore the artwork in the new LIRR terminal at the Atlantic Avenue station, including a piece by Allan and Ellen Wexler in its aboveground atrium. Meet inside the LIRR’s Atlantic Avenue Terminal; enter at Flatbush Ave and Hanson Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (212-935-2075, mas.org/tours). Sat 17 11am--1pm; $15, MAS members $10.
Or try... Learn about the city’s street-focused initiatives on MAS’s The Complete Street, led by a member of pedestrian-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives (mas.org/tours; Apr 24 at 1pm, $10--$15).

Mark Twain’s New York
Though some of Samuel Clemens’s most famous characters—and even his pen name—originated along the Ole Miss, the artist known as Mark Twain was often in a New York state of mind. The oldest writing in his own hand (penned in 1853) is a letter home from Manhattan, in which he confesses, “I have taken a liking to the abominable place.” In honor of the centenary of the legendary humorist’s passing, writer and Twain scholar Peter Salwen will take you on a two-and-a-half-hour excursion to a dozen Twain-tinged spots downtown, including the Cooper Union. “Twain made his first East Coast appearance [there] in 1867 as a stage entertainer,” Salwen explains. “Think George Carlin or Will Rogers.” The genteel jaunt ends on West 10th Street at the West Village brownstone that Twain and his family called home at the turn of the 20th century. Meet at the southwest corner of Broadway and Spring St (917-620-5371, salwen.com). Sat 17, Sun 18 at 1pm; Wed 21 at 3:30pm. $15.
Or try... The Edgar Allan Poe Greenwich Village tour from Uncle Sam’s New York looks at the gothic writer’s life and the Village’s bohemian history (unclesamsnewyork.com; daily 2pm, $20--$25).

Birth of Organized Crime Walking Tour
You don’t have to be able to quote Goodfellas ad nauseam to enjoy the newly opened Museum of the American Gangster’s 14-block celebration of the Mafia’s earliest days; MOAG founder Eric Ferrara recommends the route for anyone who’s a history geek. Over the course of more than two hours, you’ll view the childhood home of Lucky Luciano, as well as the former headquarters of Paul Kelly’s Five Points Gang (a group that recruited Al Capone). “I love spots that used to be infamous criminal haunts, but are now hairdressers and boutiques,” says Ferrara. Meet at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery at Prince St (347-465-7767, leshp.org). Sat 2pm, $25.
Or try... The museum’s Jewish Mob Walking Tour, which meets at its headquarters on St. Mark’s Place, will teach you about the men who ruled the Lower East Side before Prohibition (moagnyc.org; Mon--Sat 5pm, $15).

Barbecue Ribs & Brewery
Sample some of Manhattan’s best BBQ and beer in Chelsea on this food-focused tour. Walkers will dine on delicious treats courtesy of R.U.B. BBQ, whose dry-rubbed St. Louis--style ribs come highly recommended by Walking Tours Manhattan founder Bruce Scher. The group will tote its smoked goodies to the High Line for an alfresco lunch, followed by a tour of Chelsea Brewing Company, Manhattan’s only active brewery. You’ll learn how beer is made and then taste a half dozen varieties, including the hoppy Checker Cab Blonde Ale. For reservations and meeting place, call 917-842-4319 or visit walkingtoursmanhattan.com. Sat 2pm, $43; through Aug 28.
Or try... Nosh on pies from Lombardi’s, Artichoke and more on Scher’s Little Italy/East Village Pizza tour (walkingtoursmanhattan.com; Mon, Wed, Fri 5pm; $33. Through Aug 30).

Fashion on Fifth Avenue
It takes more than a subscription to Vogue to learn how to navigate the highfalutin world of fashion. “When most people go shopping on Fifth Avenue, they don’t take the opportunity to survey the scene,” says Uncle Sam’s New York founder Sam Cook. “And you need objective, third-party advice to avoid impulse buys.” That advice comes in the form of a personal-stylist-cum-tour-guide; on each walk, the fashion experts (who have training from the Fashion Institute of Technology, among other institutions) will offer sartorial advice and smart-spending tips to groups of no more than 20 shoppers. The tour includes stops at high-end women’s clothiers, including Dior, Chanel and Just Cavalli; you’ll also learn about some of Fifth Avenue’s cultural and historical hot spots, like Rockefeller Center. Meet at the Alexander Calder sculpture, 590 Madison Ave at 59th St (888-491-9824, unclesamsnewyork.com). Daily 10am; $36--$40.
Or try... Project Runway devotees can get their fix on Mike Kaback’s Fashion District History walking tour; it even stops at fabric emporium Mood Designer Fabrics, site of much contestant panicking. (mikesnyctours.com; Fri 16 at 10am, $20).

Or try these free tours!

Lower East Side Historic Tour
Grab a sandwich to go at Katz’s and explore Orchard Street, the birthplace of retail deals and steals in New York City. Meet at Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 E Houston St at Ludlow St (212-226-9010, lowereastsideny.com). Sun 11am.

Times Square Expos Tour
Times Square may be Disneyfied now, but this trek, sponsored by the Times Square Alliance, looks at the area’s infamous past, when porn and drugs were more prevalent than tourists. Meet at the Times Square Visitor Center, Seventh Ave between 46th and 47th Sts (212-869-1890, timessquarenyc.org). Fri noon.

The Grand Tour
The Chrysler Building and Pershing Square are on the agenda of this jaunt, which covers the area surrounding Grand Central Terminal. Meet in the sculpture court of the Whitney Museum at Altria, 120 Park Ave at 42nd St (212-883-2420, grandcentralpartnership.org). Fri 12:30pm.


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