The Accidental Docent
October 11, 2009 9:08 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday I'll be showing a new arrival to New York City around for an hour or so in the late afternoon. He's interested in the city's history, particularly the Bowery/Lower East Side. He has seen all the major tourist stops and I'm completely ignorant of the latest cool/interesting/weird spots downtown and most places have the lifespan of mayflies. Any ideas on how to prepare an awesome, emergency walking tour?

A) I'm pretty well versed in the city's history, but not on a "and at this house in Blankity Blank so and so" level. Awesome stories needed so I don't end up waving at Webster Hall and going "And this is where The Masses spoke and -uh- it was important."

B) Cool and/ore interesting buildings, odd public art, and kick-ass murals?

C) Dinner in Soho after this, so staying within walking distance a plus.
posted by The Whelk to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, how about the Lower East Side Tenement Museum? Their last tour of the day starts at 5 PM.
posted by gudrun at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

2nding the Tenement Museum.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2009

Not the most historical list, but as for places that I might take people, there's the New Museum, Morrison Hotel Gallery, Shopsin's inside Essex Market (enormous menu), Economy Candy, Katz's and Russ & Daughters'.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Might want to speed-read Luc Sante's 'Low Life.' Plenty of tawdry and sinister history in there, especially of the Bowery.
posted by Darth Fedor at 9:56 AM on October 11, 2009

How about a walking tour?
posted by fings at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2009

Between Forgotten New York and the Bowery Boys, you'll be able to keep him occupied for two weeks or so.
posted by jeremias at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2009

The tenement museum is awesome.
posted by acrasis at 10:47 AM on October 11, 2009

Seconding both Tenement Museum and "Low Life." Copies of the latter are always available at the Strand for $12 or so -- it would be a nice gift for your guest.
posted by dogrose at 11:29 AM on October 11, 2009

The Merchant House Museum on East 4th is pretty great. As far as dinner goes, I love Lupa and Blue Ribbon but a few more parameters would be helpful. Do you have dietary restrictions, a price point, or a type of cuisine in mind?
posted by Thin Lizzy at 11:40 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Shopsin's is not a good bet in the late afternoon because they close at 3pm.

I nominate this Lower East Side Gustatory Tour that covers Russ & Daughter's, Katz's, etc.

Given that you'll be there in the late afternoon, squeezing the Tenement Museum might be difficult, but worth the trouble. Also, they're pretty popular, so buy tickets in advance.
posted by kathryn at 1:59 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

4thing Tenement Museum, and it's just along from Katz's to feed him properly.
posted by fightorflight at 9:49 PM on October 11, 2009

Response by poster: Hey internet people! This is what happened.

We had pints at McSorely's and then walked around the East Village a bit, passing by remianing Cool Stores and neato buildings and the community gardens (the Toy Tower is gone! how did I miss that? Argh!), took a trip to Tompkins Square park for a little history refresher and to see the Hare Kishna tree, then down to Two Boots for pizza (turns out he grew up IN a pizza shop, so that was fun) and then the Lower East Side and a failed attempt at Economy Candy (it was closing) and a quick glace at Bluestockings before I walked him to his event in Soho and then I had a nightcap at Botanica Bar. All in all, a nice well-rounded trek.
posted by The Whelk at 5:19 PM on October 13, 2009

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