“Many people forget that New York City was the new nation’s First Capital. In fact, George Washington was sworn in as president on this very spot on April 30, 1789,” says New York City step-on guide Jim Dykes during a tour for a group of adults and (mostly Latino) students from Florida. “We were all around New York City and the kids were surprised at how much history is in New York. One young woman said she had no idea New York was so full of history from the Revolutionary War.”
New York is a city of so many things, including famous skyscrapers, the new World Trade Center, Broadway, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It is also a center for fashion, finance and wonderful cuisine, but many visitors do not realize the history that abounds all over New York’s five boroughs. “For example,” says Dykes, “New York has many National Landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Plaza Hotel and Grand Central Terminal. Central Park is, in fact, the only city park in the United States that’s granted National Landmark status because it started cities building parks in 1858.”
So many famous people who have contributed to the United States and world history have lived in New York over the centuries. In addition to George Washington, you have hundreds of famous people, in and out of politics, that resided in New York City at important times in their lives. “I do many walking tours of neighborhoods as well as step-on tours for bus groups, and I always tell people to read the plaques on buildings,” Dykes says. “New York has fascinating plaques commemorating long-forgotten events and people.
On 95th Street, the house of little 8-year old Virginia O’Hanlon (“Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” has a plaque.). The office of Nicola Tesla has a plaque, the building where J.P. Morgan’s office stood is marked, also the building where John D. Rockefeller ran his business long before Rockefeller Center’s construction. Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” is on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty. Author Mark Twain’s NYC residence was next door to Lazarus’s house in Greenwich Village, and both houses have historic plaques.”
“In addition to the pop culture sites of today, where exciting modern things are happening, New York City is a treasure-trove of historical sites, and I love to show them to my groups,” Dykes adds. “Today, the Broadway hit Hamilton has people interested in Alexander Hamilton. His grave is now visited every day at Trinity Churchyard at Broadway and Wall Street. Also, his house is still standing in Harlem.”
Jim Dykes also offers Harlem Tours, Architecture Tours, Greenwich Village and SoHo Walks, Broadway History Tours, Haunted New York Tours, Wall Street Walks, Rich and Famous Tours, and tours of Central Park, Brooklyn and much more. Jim Dykes is on Trip Advisor, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to retain his services, contact him at (917) 576-7170 or JimDykesNY@gmail.com.