Of all the MTA-Art for Transit’s artworks visited during The NYC Subway Art Tour consistently the most popular one among attendees is Tom Otterness’ Life Underground installed in 2001.
Taking 10 years to complete, 130 eye-catching bronze figures are scattered throughout the immense 14th Street station. Many are in plain sight and many have to be looked for.
“The impossibility of understanding life in New York,” is the theme according to the artist who was inspired by the rampant political corruption during the construction of the NYC subway in the late 19th century.
“I’m surprised that the government allowed him to put all that in!” Expresses a widely shared interpretation that it’s a mischievous depiction of the capitalist system. Several of the tableau could be seen to depict the clash of economic classes and others are simply funny.
The picture above is one the most photographed scenes on the tour and captures the humor, poignancy and provocativeness of Life Underground.
Below is a video of Darryl Riley’s New York Subway Art Tour, which Darryl offers once a week as a pay-what-you-like tour with us. Otherwise, he offers this tour two times each day for $25. Check out the HuffPost’s article on Subway Art for even more photos and videos.
As the weather cools down it’s not unusual to feel a chill every now and again, but if you happen to wander into the Greenwich Village perhaps those shivers are due to something more…otherworldly. The dip in temperature can’t explain that feeling of being watched, the hairs standing on the back of your neck, the sound of footsteps echoing down an empty street. Your guidebook might not reveal the darker secrets that New York City harbors, but the Greenwich Village NYC Ghost Tour can open your eyes to the supernatural side of the Big Apple.
In New York City thousands of people walk over a mass burial ground every day, charge past the site of an infamous tragedy, or live next door to a home bursting with spirits. The Greenwich Village Ghost Tour aims to bring the past to life while reminding those bold enough to attend about the mysteries of the dead. The tour begins in Washington Square and curves its way through the West Village, telling tales of hauntings, murder, scandals, as well as providing a healthy dose of history.
The tour includes public spaces as well as private homes marred by scandal. After the tour attendees can indulge in spirits while in the company of Dylan Thomas at the White Horse Tavern, or return to Marie’s Crisis to strain for the sound of Thomas Paine delivering speeches over showtunes at this notorious cabaret bar. If nighttime seems too risky, you can return to Saint Luke in the Fields in daylight for a visit in the gardens, and perhaps an encounter with the visage of an elderly gentleman who disappears mid-conversation. If you have a friend at New York University, the school’s very haunted campus might be a destination to add to your checklist. Search for the ghost of Molly in Brittany Hall (but careful, she may turn the lights out if you aren’t polite), search for the soul of a young student in Hayden Hall, or take in the faint smell of smoke at the Brown Science Building, formerly known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and site of New York City’s most infamous fire. For those looking to light a candle for the dead, perhaps a tribute is in order where Sid Vicious took his final breaths, or the former hangout of Angel Melendez before he was brutally slain by Club Kid Michael Alig.
These are just a touch of the tales waiting for you on the Greenwich Village Ghost Tour. Join us if you dare, this experience is not for the faint of heart. Consider yourself warned.
Guest Post by Megan Faye, NYC By Foot resident ghost guide!
Over 200,000 people move to NYC each year and moving to a city this diverse and large can be overwhelming. Where should I live? Or more importantly, where should I NOT live? Where can I find full time employment or a part time job? Where’s the best place to eat out, make friends, do laundry, go grocery shopping?
But moving to New York City doesn’t have to be hard. Think of it as chance to explore! Our NYC tours are guided by local residents who share their own neighborhoods with guests. NYC tours are a great and affordable way to experience New York’s different neighborhoods as our guides are great resources about life in these neighborhoods.
While most of our tours focus on history (or food!) of various parts of New York City, even just meandering down the sidewalks can give you a local feel of the area. Our guides can point out the historic homes and stories of years past, but we also talk about what life is like today in Brooklyn Heights, Harlem, Greenwich Village and more!
What our guides can’t do is help you find an apartment (though who knows, maybe we know someone renting out a room?), a job (of course, we’re always hiring!), making friends (or maybe we can – have you tried our East Village Pub Crawl?) – but if you want guaranteed assistance, check out Moving to New York Guide as a resource for moving to NYC.
Moving To New York Guide has original articles as well as links to the best resources around the web for people who are planning their move that focuses specifically on topics that people who are relocating need to know, such as: finding employment, finding an apartment, making new friends and planning a move.
Need help with moving companies? They have recommendations! Brought too much stuff for a tiny studio apartment, there are links to storage companies in NYC. Can you really afford that $2500 month studio apartment anyways? From finding roommates to a home on your own, setting up cable and internet to how not to go broke, Moving to New York Guide has the resources to help you move to NYC.
And when you’re all set up as a NYC local with an air mattress for guests visiting, don’t forget to send them our way to start the process of helping others fall in love with the Big Apple all over again!
This post provides some advice on where to find public bathrooms in New York. We include specific places in various neighborhoods you will likely visit when in NYC. We even list a website with a great map of where to go when you have to go!
And don’t forget, we always provide you with a free bathroom spot before the start of any of our free walking tours.
Free Tours by Foot offers pay-what-you-like walking, bike, bus, food and theme tours for every budget, because we believe that everybody should be able to explore the stories, history, and hidden gems of the city they are visiting. We offer tours of U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Charleston and New Orleans and we often have visitors exploring our tours in different cities. We frequently get the question, what we suggest are the best ways to get around the U.S. and while most travelers have a car or rent a car, that option does not always suit everybody. Here are some budget-friendly ways to travel from city to city without car.
Connecting New York – Boston – Philadelphia – Washington D.C.
A great, easy, and budget-friendly option to travel between the big cities of the northeast is by bus. There are several different bus companies that are connecting the Northeast cities; and depending which route you take, tickets can be as cheap as $12 one-way. Thanks to the increased number of bus companies, there usually is enough time to book your ticket online 24 hours in advance, unless you are set on a specific time schedule or travel with a larger group. Also, bear in mind, rush hour departures/arrivals around 9am and 5pm can add another hour to your trip if your bus gets stuck in traffic. Here are some suggestions:
Boltbus – a crowd pleaser with guaranteed seating, and easy boarding process, they usually book out last minute, so book early.
Megabus – offers a lot of departure time options, as their fleet departs more often than the others
Peter Pan – another great budget option and especially popular for Boston trips
Greyhound – the classy and a little more pricy option with more flexibility for refunds; make sure you arrive 30 minutes early for boarding to grab a good seat
DC2NY – as the name suggests they operate between NYC and DC; if you like a little more upscale bus ride experience; only rides twice a day; during the summer months, they also offer travel to Rehoboth Beach in Maryland
Washington Deluxe – operates between NYC and DC; great if you want to be dropped off in Brooklyn
Connecting Washington DC – Chicago – New Orleans – Charleston
First, check with your airline or flight search engines, such as Kayak, you might be surprised to find a sweet deal for a flight. If flying is not an option, your best bet to connect these longer distances might be by train. Going by train will certainly feel like an adventure itself and it is a more relaxing way to see the country compared to sitting in a bus, because you can walk around, read a book, etc. and let’s face it, sometimes the journey itself is the reward of travel. Make sure you book your ticket at least 3 weeks in advance, because last minute travel by train can get really pricy. Check with Amtrak for times and prices. Here are the current estimates:
Washington to New Orleans – 26 hours; $147 one-way
New Orleans to Chicago – 19 hours; $127 one-way
Chicago to Washington – 17.5 hours; $94 one-way
Washington to Charleston, SC – 9 hours; $97 one-way
Greyhound also connects these cities, though you might have to add on some extra travel hours and transfers.
Free Tours by Foot is looking forward to seeing you soon at one or more of our many tours. Save travels!
FREE NEW YORK CITY: Best free things to do in New York City
Free Tours by Foot will always encourage you to take advantage of our favorite free activities: our New York Tours. However, there are so many free things to do in New York City. We list the top things our tour guides have come up with.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
This free commuter ferry runs frequently every day of the week and offers amazing views of lower Manhattan and Wall Street’s skyscrapers, Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Each way is about 30 minutes so allow yourself at least an hour to enjoy one of the best free deals in the city. Just head down to the Staten Island Ferry terminal located near Battery Park. Nearest subways are J/Z to Broad Street; 1 to South Ferry; 4/5 to Bowling Green. Click here for the official ferry website with schedules and additional information. A great way to relax after taking our Lower Manhattan walking tour.
Many of New York City’s museums are free or “pay what you can” by donation. Those that are not free do offer free hours on certain days of the week. Check this complete list, but here are just a few:
The American Museum of Natural History has “suggested admission” and it is quite steep. We believe in supporting the arts, but we also know that admission fees can add up. Don’t let that prevent you from seeing some amazing art and artifacts. Pay whatever you feel is appropriate and within your budget.
Our pick for best deal: The Museum of Modern Art offers free admission every Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Go early as there will be a line, but it’s worth it. Admission is regularly $25.
Movies under the stars
A favorite summer activity of New Yorkers is watching movies outdoors for free in select parks throughout the city. There are so many offerings you could see a different movie almost every night of the week for the whole summer and not pay a cent! Most popular is the Bryant Park Wednesday Movie night. Our fave is the Thursday night series at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our Brooklyn Heights Sunset tour finishes right nearby- perfect timing! For a complete schedule of all city movie locations, see this Free Outdoor Summer Movie Guide.
Watch a TV show taping
See some celebs and maybe be one yourself if you get a camera close up as you sit in the audience at one of the many shows taped here in New York City. Some shows are so popular you must request tickets in advance (Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live), but may shows have standby options if you’re willing to wait in line. Click here for more information on dozens of show tapings.
Music & concerts
From top pop stars to local musical talent, you’ll find free music all over the city this summer. A comprehensive list can be found by clicking here Free summer concerts, but these are our favorites:
Summerstage- for almost 30 years, Central Park has been the place to see music of all genres, from around the world, from Calypso, to punk rock to folk music and so much more.
Celebrate Brooklyn! Brooklyn’s splendid Prospect Park hosts this annual series of performances each summer which offers New Yorkers an amazingly diverse range of both legendary and up-and-coming artists. At both series, most concerts are free while some charge admission to benefit charities.
It’s almost impossible to NOT go to a street fair in New York since you stumble upon them every weekend. They are great for trying out some food trucks, buying cheap stylish sunglasses, jewelry, handbags, clothing – you name it and you can probably find it at a New York City street fair. Why wait to accidentally discover one. Find out where and when to go by looking at this Guide to Street Fairs. Our pick: Brooklyn Flea, located on Saturdays in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and Sundays in Williamsburg (perfect to check out after our 10 am Williamsburg Walking tour!)
Hit the beach
It’s all too easy to forget that New York City lies along the Atlantic Ocean and has dozens of clean and easily reached beaches. Among them are famous Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach in Queens or Robert Moses State Park in Long Island. You can be walking on beautiful white sand and jumping waves in less than an hour from Manhattan. For all beach listings, hours and directions see NYC Beaches.
Hotel room prices can take a big bite out of your budget for your trip to the Big Apple – but we at FREE TOURS BY FOOT want to let you in on tips that will make your stay in New York City both affordable and comfortable. More and more, travelers are looking for alternatives to large chain hotels with costly rooms and staying in new, high-quality hostel/hotel hybrids. We decided to make a list of places that we feel fall into the category ‘budget hotels in New York City’.
No longer does the word “hostel” mean large rooms packed with bunk beds. Hostel/hotel hybrids offer a wide range of private accommodation arrangements at prices you simply cannot beat. You won’t be sacrificing quality either. Hostels in New York City cater to sophisticated budget travelers like yourself and provide the same kinds of amenities you would find in large hotels but at half the price…or even less! So just how much money can you save staying in a private room at a hostel?
The New York Budget Inn on East 34st Street at 3rd Ave. has private rooms and dorm-style rooms, with either private or shared bathrooms. Let’s say you are a group of 3 travelers–if you are comfortable sharing a bathroom with other guests (as has been the norm for decades around the world in small hotels/hostels), you could pay as little as $40 per person per night!
If you are willing to trade room size for a hi-tech, chic atmosphere ideally situated in Midtown Manhattan, The Pod Hotel is for you. Prices vary depending on the number of guests and if you choose a shared or private bathroom. A great savings for two travelers can be had in the “Mini Bunk Pod”. For $200 (plus tax) you’ll get a modern, sleek room with stacked beds, free wi-fi, private bathroom, a media docking station, LCD tv, concierge service and a rooftop deck and stylish lounge area.
Want to stay at in the center of it all? Then check out the Equity-Point at Times Square. With locations around the world, the Equity Point knows how to satisfy its guests – by providing clean, crisp rooms with private bathrooms, complimentary breakfast and free wi-fi.
If you are looking for a fun atmosphere to meet other guests to explore the city with, then one of the Jazz Hostels are for you. With several locations around Manhattan, each with a different vibe, but same array of amenities, you can’t go wrong.
Lastly, check out the Eurocheapo New York website. They specialize in budget accommodations and actually visit and review those they have stayed at. Another interesting and affordable option is to offer yourself as a house sitter. Trustedhousesitters.com pairs homeowners with house-sitters. You take care of the plants and pets in exchange for free accommodations. Sounds like a great deal. The Guardian newspaper also has a great article on house sitting.
Visiting New York City does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll need those legs to join one of our many walking and bicycling tours!
Citishare Bike program launches Memorial Day weekend
New York City is increasingly becoming a bike-friendly city and new bike lanes are popping up everywhere.But if you don’t own a bicycle how can you take advantage of this pleasurable mode of transportation? Citibank, in collaboration with New York City, has created a bike share program that will be launching on Memorial Day weekend. We are happy to tell you about it.
You must join the program which offers 3 membership options:
a one day membership is $9.95 plus tax
a weekly membership is $25 plus tax
a yearly membership is $95 plus tax
Members are allowed an unlimited number of 30 minute rides. The 30 minute time limit per ride exists because the program encourages people to use bicycles for short local trips such as commuting or running errands. However, you can take as many 30 minute rides as you would like during your membership period. Bikes are available in Manhattan and Brooklyn. To find a dock near you, visit the Citishare Dock Location map.
Here is how it works:
Let’s say you want to bike from one neighborhood to another. You go to the nearest bike dock and pick up a bike. You then have 30 minutes to complete your trip and return the bike to any dock location. You do not need to return the bike from where you picked it up. During your membership period, you can take an unlimited amount of 30-minute rides.
Here is the catch.
If you go over the 30 minutes, you will be charged an additional fee per half-hour. Overtime fees are $4 for the first ½ hour beyond your initial 30 minutes, then $13 for the second ½ hour, and then every ½ hour after that, you will be charged $12.00. What this means is – get your bike back to a dock in 30 minutes! Once docked, the time counter on a bike resets. Allow at least 2 minutes for the docking system to process your return and you can take a bike out for another 30 minutes. And so on….
What if the dock is full when I return my bike?
If you arrive at a dock and there are no spots available to re-dock, you get a 15 minute grace period to return the bike to a different dock. However, you MUST check in at the fully occupied dock before heading to another dock with available spaces. You will be directed to the nearest dock that has spots. Also, bikes are equipped with GPS to help you locate docks.
If you are a tourist and want of enjoy this new program, it can be done!
As long as you check in at a dock every 30 minutes, you will not be charged any overtime fee. Wait at least 2 minutes for your return to be processed and then you can take out a bike for another 30 minutes. And so on and so on.
Dock it or lock it! If you stop during your rental period, and the bike ‘disappears’ it will cost you $1000!
Plan your trip in advance to not waste any of your 30 minutes of biking time. Check out the official NYC bike map and plan your route online.