LUNY! was just named Best Private Tour of NYC with US News and World Report!

TGoTM June: Catie Shelley!

catie_shelley
 
Full Name: Catherine Shelley (but I go by Catie!)
 
Grew up: Rothesay, New Brunswick Canada
 
Live now: Edgewater, NJ
 
I moved to New York in 2008 for a graduate degree in Opera. Singing has always been my passion and I am still performing to this day. 
 
If money were no option, I would still choose to live in Edgewater, NJ. I have a great commute, amazing skyline views of NYC, and a giant Whole Foods in my town (Very exciting)! The only change is that I would definitely own a huge mansion that would rival Ice-T and Coco (who live down the street) 🙂
 
I do not think I could ever live anywhere else because NYC is the most exciting city I have ever experienced. There are endless restaurants, shows, museums, events. I have not been able to find that anywhere else!
 
My tour groups do not know that I have a third degree brown belt in two styles of karate: Shotokan and Chito-Ryu. Safety for my groups is of the utmost importance so they can rest assured, I can bust out some karate moves if necessary.
 
Picking my favorite neighborhood is hard because I find so many things I love in each and every part of NYC. But if I HAVE to pick a favorite, I pick the West Village (slightly biased because I graduated from NYU). There are so many fun jazz clubs, restaurants, and dessert options to explore. There is something haunting and beautiful about that neighborhood!
 
There are over 20,000 restaurants in NYC so it’s REALLY hard to pick just one (usually I pick according to neighborhood). Here are a few of my favorites: Bourbon Street Bar & Grille (restaurant row), Room Service (9th ave), Fraunces Tavern (Financial District), Alice’s Tea Cup (Upper West).
 
My favorite tour: I LOVE touring Central Park on a beautiful day. DUMBO and Greenwich Village are also really fun.
 
Piece of Advice: 
I have learned that it is so important to read your group! What are their interests? Their ages? Are they done with talking about history and want to keep walking instead? Reading their expressions and preferences can help to make their experience that much more positive! 
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TGoTM – Matthew Cummings!!

Full name please!   Matthew Cummings
 
Where did you grow up?   The Fabulous Five Towns on the south shore of Wrong Island. 
 
Where do you live now?   I now live in Forest Hills, Queens. I was born in Far Rockaway, Queens. I’ve returned to the county where I was spawned! 
 
When did you move to NY and why?Well I grew up just outside the city, literally a 5-minute walk to the Queens/Nassau county line. Moved into East Village, Manhattan when I was 20 to be close to the punk rock scene. 
 
Where would you live if money were no option?   My primary residence would always be New York. Fer crying out loud, it’s the World’s Capital City! But if money were no object I’d have homes in Ireland, Hawaii & California as well! 
 
Could you ever live anywhere else in the world?   See above, I’m like Woody Allen or a Neil Simon character that way, I can’t imagine living anywhere full time without a subway and a 24-hour deli down the block. 
 
What don’t your tour groups know about you?  Not much, I’m pretty open about myself and my history, age appropriate of course. I guess that, while they likely perceive me as avuncular, I’m also dead sexy. But I’ve never been employed as an exotic male dancer, as often as I’ve been asked. 
 
What’s your favorite neighborhood? After all these years, still the lower east side of Manhattan. 
 
Your favorite restaurant?  Best restaurant I’ve eaten at is Esca, Mario Batali Restaurant in the theater district. My favorite when working, and ending up in Times Square at the end of an early evening tour is DXL on 43rd Street. Great hangar steaks and Belgian beers. 
 
Your favorite tour?  A short one that overpays and includes a ridiculously large tip!  But seriously, the most fun tour I run is a Rock & Roll pub crawl from the West to East Villages. 
 
One piece of advice all NYC tour guides must know!  It’s all about the story, ya gotta be entertaining, engaging and funny! They’re just not that interested in a whole lot of historical facts. Keep stories short & pithy.  Have a through line for the whole tour, consider a theme, you don’t have to tell the guests that your working on a theme, keep that to yourself.  Make connections between different sights/sites, like Harry K. Thaw/ Stanford White/ Evelyn Nesbit story at Madison Sq > Jefferson Mkt Library/ Courthouse in GV where Thaw was tried for murder of White. But keep it funny. 
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Tour Guide of the Month: Ammi Simon!

 
Full Name Please: Ammiel Simon.
 
Where’d you grow up? I grew up in Forest Hills New York.
 
Where do you live now? Today I live in Spanish Harlem.
 
When did you move to NY and why?  I moved to New York twice: One when I was 6 years old when my family moved here from Chicago. I went to the High School of Music and Art for one year before my parents decided to move the family to Israel. After 12 years in Israel, two wars and the loss of my stepbrother in one of those wars, it occurred to me that I might not be all that Jewish. I missed Manhattan terribly. When I was 28 I gathered up enough money and flew back to Gotham. I went down into the subway and smelling that combination of braking fluid and dead rat…I knew I was home.
 
Where would you live if money were no option? If money were no option I would live in one of the new condos around Union Square.
 
Could you ever live anywhere else in the world? I think I’ve made it clear that I could never live anywhere but New York. Wild horses will not take me from this city, again. When you’re in love with something (or someone) and you lose it – and then get it back, you tend to hold on tight to it 
 
What don’t your tour groups know about you? My groups get to know me pretty well. I’m an open book.  
 
What’s your favorite restaurant? My favorite restaurant is Joe Allen. White tablecloths, good house wine and sometimes, not often, but occasionally – a Broadway star comes in and everyone is super cool about it.  Very New York.
 
What’s your favorite neighborhood? My favorite neighborhood – too many to number. Neighborhoods connect to memories. Upper West Side, Harlem, Murray Hill Forest Hills – all hold special people and memories for me. I love New York.
 
Whats your favorite tour? My favorite tour is the one with the most engaged tourists.
 
One Piece of Advice All NYC Tour Guides Should Know? The most important piece of advice for a tour guide: Connect!  You may be the only real New Yorker your clients get to know while they’re here. Give them a chance to know you and through you – the city. 
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10th Annual Panorama Challenge: Final Scores!

Thanks to everyone for such a great night, especially the amazing folks at the Queens Museum!

In the heat of the moment I thought we had an Ota Benga Stumper with MONGO.  But I was wrong!  One team got credit for that answer: the Van Wycks.  Well done!

Another team got the answer correct, but since they were Challengers it didn’t count.  They get credit here, however.  Nice job Realistic Expectations, you exceeded expectations with that answer!

The Cheese Strings got a perfect score on the quiz and added a point during the halftime bonus to win the Challenger round.  (The second place teams each got to 30 with bonus points.)

And the long suffering Triboroughs  aced their Challenger questions and squeaked by with a one point margin of victory this year.  The Pro category finished close this year, as usual.

I’ve already begun work on next year’s questions — see you then!

Your Quizmaster,

Jonathan Turer

PROS

Triborough Thoroughs 56

Civic Virtue 55

Flatlanders 54

We Have No Clue 51

The Taking of Panorama 123 48

The VanWycks 46

The Rule Breakers 35

CHALLENGERS

Cheese Strings 31

2nd Avenue Stubways 30

Kosciuszko Bridge Preservation Society 30

Zack Attack 29

Uncreative Ones 29

Tappan A to Zee 29

Team Koz 28

The 3 Boroughs 28

Metropolitan Trivia Authority 27

Gotham Gams 27

Hellegat Warriors 27

Norman Mailer for President 26

Shaq Plaque 26

Below the Belt 24

Team Neversink 20

Realistic Expectations 20

The Winners did not finish

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10th Annual Panorama Challenge 1st Half Q&As

What a great night!  Here are the questions & answers from the first half of the Panorama Challenge at the Queens Museum on 3/4/2017. (Any part of an answer in parentheses was not required, or was an alternate acceptable answer!)

SEINFELD IN NEW YORK

Twenty years ago Seinfeld began filming its final season.

1) Are George’s parents Jewish? Or is Costanza Italian? And what’s the deal with Estelle making paella?? Doesn’t matter. The exterior of their home is here, in this historically Greek neighborhood. Challengers, name the neighborhood. ASTORIA

When Seinfeld ended, George’s dad – Jerry Stiller – went on to play Carrie Heffernan’s dad on another sitcom, also set in the city. Pros, name that second sitcom. KING OF QUEENS

2) Elaine was invited to a party at Tim Whatley’s apartment, here, by the American Museum of Natural History, the night before a major holiday. What holiday was it? THANKSGIVING

That same episode featured the starring actor from the 1969 Oscar-winning movie set in New York City. It wasn’t his LeBaron convertible that George bought… Pros, name the actor. JON VOIGHT

3) When George worked here as the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary, who provided Steinbrenner’s voice, even though by the last season he was no longer with the show? LARRY DAVID

Pros, Before Steinbrenner came on the scene, the Yankees were owned by what major media company? CBS

PLAY

4) When Paul Simon was with Julio down by the schoolyard, Rosie was the queen of this neighborhood, (PLAY AUDIO) Challengers, please name it. CORONA

Pros, she’s not the only royalty around. There’s a king in the neighborhood too. What is he king of? BE SPECIFIC! LEMON ICE

5) Al Smith, who grew up here, used this playful old tune while campaigning for President. Challengers, name the song. (PLAY AUDIO) SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK

Pros, As Governor, Smith relied on his street smarts. When others claimed a PhD he said he had an FFM, which referred to what nearby institution? FULTON FISH MARKET

6) Released in 1999, the album PLAY was recorded at the artist’s apartment, here, on Mott Street. (PLAY AUDIO) Challengers, Whose album is this? MOBY

Pros, Which former New York customs official is the artist related to? HERMAN MELVILLE

FORTS

7) Building the Brooklyn tower of this bridge destroyed a fort named for a foreigner, who was also good friend of Hamilton (whose fort is just up the hill, appropriately enough) Challengers, what was the fort called? FORT LAFAYETTE

Speaking of Fort Hamilton: the Captain who spent five years as Post Engineer fixing the forts in the 1840s would later gain fame, or infamy, as the General of another army. Pros, Who is he (GENERAL ROBERT E) LEE

8) Battery Weed, here, is part of Fort Wadsworth and overrun by weeds. In recent years the National Park Service has brought in some unusual workers to remove the unwanted plants. Challengers, please explain who these workers are. GOATS

The battery was named for Brigadier General Stephen Weed, who is buried on Staten Island, in the same cemetery as a very wealthy Commodore. Pros, name the cemetery. MORAVIAN

9) After 1981, the 41st Precinct, here, in the Bronx, was well known by what name, thanks to a Paul Newman film? FORT APACHE

The 41st Precinct is responsible for patrolling this peninsula. Pros, name the neighborhood. HUNTS POINT

GARBAGE & GETTING TO ZERO

This category was inspired by Open House New York and their new series of events about waste – and reducing waste – in the city. Make sure to check out the website Getting To Zero.nyc There’s a lot of great stuff on their calendar!

10) If you live in this neighborhood, your sanitation vehicle starts its run here on East 99th Street, at the 11th District Garage. Challengers, what is this neighborhood called? We’re looking for the name used by Community Board 11 on its website. EAST HARLEM

Upstairs at the garage is a curated selection of objects found along the collection routes. Pros, what do the sanitation workers call these finds? MONGO (not MUNGO)

11) No matter where they’re picked up, everything in the ‘blue bin’ is brought to the SIMS facility here, at the water’s edge in Sunset Park. Challengers, this is the primary sorting point for which three recyclable materials? GLASS PLASTIC METAL (CARTONS, also acceptable) (not paper or compost)

The new building is perched upon four feet of fill to protect it from storm surges. This material was delivered from Manhattan and is a byproduct of what major endeavor? Pros: where is the fill from? 2nd AVENUE SUBWAY

12) Once separated, many recyclables are loaded on train cars and head to this rail yard, to be sent to New Jersey. Challengers, how do the trains get to New Jersey? BARGE (CAR FLOAT)

Pros: Operating in Brooklyn and Jersey City only, what is the name of this very limited freight railroad? And we’ll take either of its two most recent names…. NY NJ Railroad OR Cross Harbor Railroad

FAIRY TALES

13) It’s here on Narrows Avenue that you’ll find the landmarked Gingerbread House. Hansel and Gretel beware of brokers, not witches, its on sale for over $10 million dollars! Challengers, Name the Gingerbread house’s neighborhood. BAY RIDGE

Pros: The house is “a witch’s hideaway” in “Black Forest Art Nouveau” style according to which well known guidebook’s 5h edition? AIA (AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS)

14) Whose pond is this? It sounds like it might belong to a fairy tale villain — little hoods and pigs beware. Challengers, what is the name of this pond? WOLFES POND

Pros, The pond is part of what green infrastructure project – unique to Staten Island – to keep rainwater out of the sewer system? BLUEBELT

15) This neighborhood, Sunnyside, shares its name with the Westchester home of what author, who gave us American fairy tale characters like Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman? Challengers, we’re looking for the author’s name. WASHINGTON IRVING

He also created a fake-history of New York City under the pen name Knickerbocker. Pros, what was this fictitious character’s FIRST name? DIEDRICH

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