See how an incredible group of innovators, all working independently within a few blocks of one another, combined competing ideas from dozens of cultures into the world’s first international holiday. Many of the best sites still stand, including:
- Trinity Church: One famous parishioner transformed St. Nicholas into Santa Claus. Another had him deliver presents on Christmas Eve.
- The Marble Palace: Built to be the world’s first department store by the genius who basically invented modern retail, this building housed the world’s first Christmas sale.
- The Woolworth Building: Americans decorated their Christmas trees with rotting fruit until a traveling salesman convinced this store to stock glass ornaments.
- Newspaper Row: Holiday traditions rarely spread more than a few miles from where they started — until New Yorkers invented the mass media and taught the world to celebrate as one.
What Is Not Included?
- Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
- Tickets must be purchased in advance and tours often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
- Does this tour run in all weather?
- Yes, tours run in all weather including rain, snow and bone-chilling cold. Of course in the case of any extreme weather events that could shut down public transit, we may need to cancel.
- How long do tours last?
- Tours are approximately two hours long.
- Do I need to purchase tickets for young children?
- Children 6 years old and under do not need a ticket as they are too young to really understand the subject matter. However, if you are bringing young children, please let us know when purchasing your tickets.
- How much walking is involved?
- On this tour we cover about 1.5 miles over mostly flat ground.
- Where does the tour end?
- The tour ends about a mile from the starting point, at South Street Seaport.
- Does the entire tour take place outside or do we enter any buildings?
- The entire tour takes place outside, except on days when cold weather demands a stop for hot chocolate.
- Is the tour accessible by wheelchair or stroller?
- Yes. There are some bumpy sidewalks and uneven curb cuts but nothing that's unusually bad for Manhattan.
- Are there bathrooms along the way?
- There are no scheduled restroom stops on the tour, but we can generally find facilities if the need arises.
- Will I be able to shop and buy souvenirs along the way?
- No, unfortunately there is no time for shopping on this tour as we'll need to keep on schedule.
- Are cameras allowed on the tour?
- Yes, cameras are allowed and encouraged as there will be multiple photo opportunities.
- Is there parking available near the meeting spot?
- Parking can be difficult in New York City and therefore we encourage people to use mass transportation. If you are driving, we suggest parking in a nearby parking garage. Several parking options will be provided after purchasing your tickets. Please keep in mind that the tour ends about a mile away from the meeting spot.
- Are tours offered in any language but English?
- No. Being Americans, we are all monolingual, but we are cosmopolitan enough to be embarrassed by this shortcoming.
- Do you offer gift certificates?
- Yes. If you are interested in purchasing a gift certificate, please click on the "Contact MetroWalks" link on the left side of the page for more information.
- Are private tours available?
- Certainly. We can do private versions of any tour we offer — or entirely customized tours — at any time on any day of the week. Please click on the "Contact MetroWalks" link to email us with your request.
When designing tours, he tries to use quirky individual stories to illustrate broad and important points about how the City operates. Walkers spend most of their time laughing at improbable tales and only later realize that they've been tricked into learning stuff.
His tour repertoire covers everything from Dutch history to today's headlines, touching on architecture, city politics, pop culture, financial shenanigans, and much more. He combines all these individually interesting topics to leave walkers with a sum that is greater than its parts: a sense of what makes New York unique and how it got to be this way.