Saturday, November 05, 2011

Walking Tour of Soho, Little Italy and Chanatown

Today you can go along with me on my Free Tours By Foot excursion with tour guide (and owner of the company) Steve.  It was a very interesting tour, about 2.5 hours or so. Go get a cuppa as this is going to be a long post!!   We started out in SoHo (South of Houston, haha).  Steve began by talking about the history of tenements in NYC.  I won't go into the whole history thing here (psht, like you thought I would remember it all??)  So meet our guide, Steve.  He did a GREAT job and I highly recommend his tours!

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This is a typical tenement building, where on each floor there were 4 apartments and the square footage was about 250!! I can't believe groups of 6 or more typically lived in these small spaces. Kinda makes me appreciate my own house a little more. It's small for all 5 of us but not THAT small!

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Apparently Soho has one of the largest concentrations of cast iron buildings in the whole world. See this pillar? Cast iron. Steve put a magnet on it and it stuck!!

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Many of the facades had this kind of fret work. It was very interesting how each building kind of had their own personality. We were by this Pizza place here

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and Steve told us that in the movie either MIB or MIB II this is the pizza place were the alien pops out of the pizza! This neighborhood is also where the "odd father", a known mob boss used to go outside muttering to himself dressed in his bathrobe trying to get out of going to jail b/c he was "crazy". Eventually they figured it out and he ended up in jail.

And we're walking! How cool is it that one of the cast iron buildings was the original Singer Sewing machine building?

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This building is actually "L" shaped and went around the building on it's left so when we turned the corner you could see more of the Singer building!

We kept walking and ended up in front of this building.

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Anyone know anything about this one? No? See that top floor? That's where Heath Ledger lived (and died). Talk about cold people, the owner of the building was glad he died near the beginning of the month so they could clean it out and re-rent it and he wouldn't lose the next month's rent!!

Little Italy is the next area we visited. It used to be a much larger area but China Town is encroaching upon the boundries! Here was a nice shop that had some great looking meats and cheeses.

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Next up was China town. Apparently they are not sure how many Chinese actually live there as they won't participate in the census. Partly because many of them don't read English and partly b/c there are many illegals living there. It is the fastest growing population in NY and the largest concentration of Chinese in the US. We walked by a lot of fish markets where one shop had their tanks on display in the windows.

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or you could choose your fish from several places like this one, where there were many kinds of fish and live crabs!

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This was the view down one of the streets (Mott, I think) and the oldest tenement building in NY is located in China Town

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We went down another kind of a curvy street that had many barber shops in it. It was also an area that the Chinese mafia used to control, complete with a speak easy, and underground tunnels connecting many of the buildings! (we went in those too)

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We came out at Confucius square. Look at the little shades on the street lamps!

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We walked through a park, Steve called it a community center. There were many Chinese playing games of chance and hanging out. He said in the mornings the entire area was filled with Chinese exercising (Tai Chi?)

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Our tour concluded and we were right on Canal street so I stopped into a Chinese jewelry shop, I wanted to price some pearls. They had so many it was difficult to choose!! I found some that I liked but wanted the string longer so here is the owner's husband stringing them for me!

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The ones I chose are black iridescent and oblong, not round. I really like the more unusual ones, and besides I have white round ones! I really loved the green, disc shaped ones but maybe next year. I will have to save for those! haha. I don't have a photo of the ones I bought, like I said I will photograph all the loot at once, when I get home and post about it.

Are you tired yet?  I was exhausted!!  I caught the subway back to the port authority bus station and took the bus back to NJ to my hotel.  I hope you enjoyed the mini version of the tour I took you though and will come back tomorrow for the garment district followed by the American Folk Art Museum (quilt display)


Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

You are a great tour guide Pam - thanks for taking us along.

Impera Magna said...

What fun.... are you all walked out yet? Thanks for posting all the photos and info... almost like being there!

Donna~~ said...

Thanks for the great tour--sounds like fun! I'm looking forward to the next segments!

Brenda said...

Wow, I have never wanted to go to NY until I have seen your posts about your trips. You sure cover a lot of ground.

Mrs Quilty said...

Lots of fun pics and looks like a lot of fun! Good for you!

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