Historical New York Talks and Tours

By Alison Durkee

Learn more about the Big Apple and its rich history with these upcoming New York City-themed talks and tours.


Lower Manhattan is where the Dutch settled, George Washington was inaugurated, and Alexander Hamilton has his final resting place. Learn about the history of the area on a Lower Manhattan History Walk on October 21, or focus in on the area’s colonial days as New Amsterdam and the Jewish population who settled there, coming up on October 15. The area is home to many war memorials, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza and the East Coast and Korean War Veterans Memorials, which will be the subject of a walking tour on October 14. To learn about the area’s seedier underbelly, catch the history of crime in NYC on October 21. A separate walking tour on October 28 will put Wall Street and great financial crashes at the forefront.

A few blocks uptown, head to the Lower East Side on October 22 for a look at the Jewish gangsters who once trafficked in the area, including Arnold Rothstein, Meir Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. To the west, New Yorkers can discover the West Village on a walking tour exploring the area’s history, ecology, and architecture on October 17. Residents can also learn more about the past, present, and future of the iconic neighborhood at one of its greatest landmarks, the Jefferson Market Library, during a community conference on October 15.

Image: Steven Acres

Brooklyn also has plenty of secrets in store for New Yorkers to discover this fall. Join Untapped Cities for Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide on October 23, which will give attendees the chance to learn from one of the borough’s secret locations, along Newtown Creek. To learn more about one of the borough’s icons, the Brooklyn Dodgers, head to a talk on the legendary baseball team’s legacy on October 17. Those hoping for a more macabre look at Brooklyn, can head to one of its most “spirited” locations, Green-Wood Cemetery, for an evening of “exploration and immersion” with Atlas Obscura’s Into the Veil (October 13-14), or learn about the “Ghost Ship” of Brooklyn, which was stationed off the borough’s coast during the American Revolution, on November 20.

New Yorkers can get out to Queens this fall for walks exploring Steinway Village (November 18) or Richmond Hill North (November 11), a Victorian village that was one of the first suburban communities. The Municipal Art Society will also offer a tour of the South Bronx and its history and recent revival on November 19. To get out of the five boroughs altogether, head over to Governors Island (okay, yes, it is technically part of Manhattan) for a walking tour on October 14, or join the National Lighthouse Museum for a narrated cruise up the Hudson River on the same day.

Those wanting to learn more about the city as a whole and its history this fall are also in luck. Author Mike Wallace will discuss his new book Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919, a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, at an event at the Brooklyn Historical Society on October 12. After the city’s Halloween festivities come to an end, New Yorkers will still be able to get a look at the city’s haunted histories at New York: City of the Dead on November 9, which offers an overview of the city’s cemeteries – including the secret ones hidden in some unlikely places.

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