Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Day They Took King George's Statue down in Bowling Green NYC

Jack Stanley, a tour guide and historian who works with Uncle Sams, writes a great piece on the Bowling Green issue.

On July 9, 1776, there was a rush to tear down the statue of King George the 3rd in Bowling Green Park. How did it happen and why? It seems that the Declaration of Independence was read in New York for the first time on that summers day.

Who was it read for? George Washington's troops that were located where New York's City Hall is now located. It has always been my belief that George Washington's troops were celebrating the release of the document. I would not be surprised if they had been drinking.
They came down full of revolutionary excitement to the Bowling Green Park. Tore off all the crowns on the fencing around the park. Then they came into the park and toppled the gilded lead statue of King George the 3rd.

The statue was chopped up and shipped to Connecticut. It was there that King George's statue was made into over 42,000 bullets. Therefore the King's lead would be fired at his own troops.

It was the beginnings of a revolution. But what is not usually known in our history of New York is that New York City during the entire American Revolution was occupied by the British. In fact the British flag flew over New York City as the battle for Independence was fought on many fronts.
Today we always talk of our independence taking place on July 4, 1776. That is the common day we have claimed as the date we wished to get it, but to be honest, independence was declared on July 2, 1776. The paperwork was signed on the 4th.

This of course did not mean we were independent at all. In fact the United States was not truly independent till November 25, 1783. That date was called "Evacuation Day". This was the day the British Flags went down over New York City and the American Flag went up for the first time in the city as well.

That in many ways is our true Independence Day. For that is the day we truly got it!

Today as you walk by Bowling Green Park, you can feel the history and see the original fence that surrounds the park, minus it crowns of course. That is where it all began in the American Revolution in New York City. Look around and feel the history, it is all around you.

For New York is also a city in which the history never sleeps as well.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Interesting NYC tidbit of the day - Shadowlands

One of the most famous plays in New York City opened this day 19 years ago. Shadowlands, a piece inspired by C.S Lewis (famous for his ¨Chronicles of Narnia¨), has played over 169 performances at the Brooks Atkins Theater and continues to amaze audiences.

Shadowlands was originally conceived by Norman Stone as a drama for Thames television. In 1983, he tapped Brian Sibley, the author of C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands: The Story of His Life with Joy Davidman, to research and write the script, which they called Surprised by Joy. Thames television lost interest in producing the project but refused to release the rights to Sibley¹s teleplay. Stone then engaged William Nicholson to compose a new text. This version became Shadowlands and was produced for bbc television in 1985. It featured Joss Acklund and Claire Bloom. Nicholson subsequently rewrote the work as a stage play, incorporating considerable new material

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

That Amazing Apple We Call Big

With Bloomberg and Thompson heading off the November 3rd election, it's interesting to think what NYC has gone through in the past few years. Alot of the rhetoric against Bloomberg is that he's put us in this financial collapse and doesn't deserve to be re-elected. Let me begin with the fact that I'm not endorsing Bloomberg or Thompson. But it may be interesting to analyze what NYC has gone through in the past 8 years.

With the financial collapse of the markets, many think of NYC as a fallen city. "It's no longer the financial capital of the world", "No one wants to go to NYC anymore", "It's not as cool" (and any other cliched one liners you can think of). But the reality is far from such baseless remarks.

More people have immigrated to NYC in the past eight years than ever before. Tourism is at it's highest, and while unemployment is high, people are beginning to find jobs every day. Companies are hiring, revenues are returning and people are smiling again. Everyone I know still love to live in NYC. Many are taking jobs with less pay simply to live in the amazing city of ours.

I personally remember moving to NYC many years ago and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was so happy all the time. I barely knew anyone and life was rather monotonous (that is if you ignore the craziness of NYC itself). But that's really it. It's that the city is a character in itself. It's energy, it's unpredictability and it's beauty will never be gone.

NYC Marathon 2009

While many of us were still hungover from a fantastic Saturday night Hallow's Eve, thousands of eager and much too in shape runners took top form at the NYC Marathon---the most coveted marathon in the world. Covering all 5 boroughs, the NYC Marathon, brings the best from across the globe in one of the most athletically challenging competitions ever. Congrats to all who attempted to finish, all who did finish, and of course to the first American winner since 1982, Meb Keflezigh.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Night Club Spotlight: Marquee

It's hard to talk about NYC nightlife and not bring up Marquee, where stars like P. Diddy, Scarlett Johannson, and Michael Phelps have partied. The West Chelsea hot spot has been ranked #32 on the 2009 Night Club & Bar Top 100 according to and appeals to those who want the high-energy of a large club while still maintaining the intimacy of a smaller one. The firm of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Archiects along with nightlife designer Steve Lewis, created the ultra-lounge that opened in December of 2003. Johnson is known as the dean of 20th century American architecture, creating Manhattan landmarks such as the Lipstick Building and the Seagram Building. He finished up his designs for Marquee shortly before his death, but there is no doubt that his fine work will continue to be praised.Marquee is set apart from other venues by it's architectural originality but some connect it's style with that of a classic gentlemen's club. The main cabaret space was created by carving out the original roof and replacing it with a 24-foot vaulted ceiling and decorated with lighting fixtures to highlight the signature 35-foot wishbone staircase. The night club features three distinct areas; the main room which tends to play house/techno, the second level where one hears hip/hop, and the Red Room which is tucked in the rear of the main room (ideal for intimate interaction). Each of the rooms come with a full-service bar where one can enjoy a cocktail for a steep $18 on a busy night.
Natural woods, glistening brass, glass accents, and the plush, leathery banquettes add to the luxurious ambiance of Marquee, which entertains thousands of guests weekly. The club uses its own chic tableware and top of the line audio and lighting technology. It has a capacity of 600 people so don't surprised if you don't get in if you're only decently dressed, with a group of guys, or refuse to shell out the average cover of $25. The crowd tends to comprise of many Europeans due to its international praise, which may or may not be what you're looking for. It is also a wise idea not to bring too much into the Marquee because the coat check will charge you for each item you wish them to hold. Hit up Marquee if you're looking for a luxurious night in NYC and you're not on a budget. Play your cards right and you may just bump into one of your favorite celebrities! Check out a video of Marquee during New Year's Eve 2007 to get a better feel of what you'll be experiencing inside.

Get more info on one of Chelsea's hottest night club's at Marquee's official website here.

To skip the lines, get free drinks, meet new people, and go home with a story in clubs like Marquee, be sure to reserve your spot on the Chelsea Night Club Tour operating Friday and Saturday nights.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Neighborhood Focus: Hell's Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen refers to the area between 34th Street and 59th Street from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. The neighborhood has been home to gangs and violence in the past but has transformed into a lively area frequented by actors and some of NYC's best bars. Irish immigrants settled in Hell's Kitchen in the mid-19th Century, falling victim of the Great Famine in their home country. These immigrants found work on the docks and railroads, but soon overpopulated this "land of opportunity" and the increasing poverty led to gang formation. It was around this time that the neighborhood was coined the name "Hell's Kitchen" even though it's exact origins are not known. Some claim Davey Crockett started the term when he used it to describe the Five Points slum, while others claim the name is traced back to particular tenements in the area. One thing is for certain, it did not have a positive connotation.
Gangs were on the rise through the next several few decades, with increased violence during Prohibition and the arrival of Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1950s. The hostility among the Puerto Rican, Irish, and Italian immigrants in the area is highlighted in the film West Side Story. The Irish-American gang, the Westies, who had violent tendencies and ties with the Gambino family, controlled Hell's Kitchen from the mid-1960's through the 1980's. In 1986, convictions under the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act haltered the gang activity in Hell's Kitchen, and by the early 1990's, the neighborhood was in full swing of a gentrification.
With the prominent Midtown as its neighbor, Hell's Kitchen started to become more elite as Midtown continued to prosper. Young professionals and actors moved into this area and continue to enjoy the close proximity to the business district and Broadway theaters alike. Some celebrities that have lived in Hell's Kitchen include Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stalone, Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, and Alicia Keys. Despite the increasing prominence of the neighborhood, we will never forget the famous gangsters like Owney Madden and James Coonan that dominated Hell's Kitchen before all that. The municipality, gentrifies, and real estate agents tend to refer to the area as "Clinton" to erase the reputation of the neighborhood's past, but Hell's Kitchen will always be Hell's Kitchen.To get a more in-depth and interactive history of Hell's Kitchen as well as enjoy a few beers at historic bars in the area, check out the Hell's Kitchen Pub Crawl offered Wednesdays at 7:30 pm.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Fraunces Tavern Welcomes The Magna Carta

This blog entry features information from an article by Annaline Dinkelmann in Guidelines, the Guides' Association of New York City newsletter, Matthew Baker - editor. For more info on GANYC, visit

Fraunces Tavern has earned its title as a New York City landmark considered to be Manhattan's oldest surviving building. It was also the site where General George Washington bade farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution before returning to his home in Virginia. This historic bar will again go down in the history books this Fall when it hosts the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215 to limit the powers of King John of England, which also served as a catalyst for the pursuit of liberty. It played a critical role in history of democracy and still has a huge impact on human rights. The document will be on display in an exhibit from September 15th - December 15th, 2009, which will reveal how the roots of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights all trace back to the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta has voyaged overseas from its home at Lincoln Cathedral in England to New York just twice, making this a truly rare event.

Tickets available NOW
Order tickets online:

Order tickets by phone: 1-866-468-7619

Exhibit Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 12 Noon - 6:00 PM
Closed Monday

School group tours:
10:30 AM - 12 Noon
Call 212-425-1778

After-hour group tours can be arranged.
Contact Visitor Services at 212-425-1776, ext. 18
Or 212-425-1778

Adults ................................ $10.00
Seniors [65 and over] ............ $5.00
Children [6 to 18] ................. $5.00
Children [5 and under] .......... FREE

Your admission to the exhibit will also gain you entrance to our Dunsmore Gallery with its magnificent paintings depicting Revolutionary War scenes, the historic Long Room where George Washington bade farewell to his officers, and the elegant Clinton Dining Room. The exhibit will be an experience rich with stories of American patriotism and the history of liberty itself. You don't want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity!

For additional information on this exhibit click here.

To learn more about the history of Fraunces Tavern as well as other NYC landmarks in the area, be sure to book your spot on the Alexander Hamilton Financial District Tour.

Monday, 3 August 2009

"Uncle Sam's New York Creates A Gateway for Tourists"

The July/August 2009 edition of Packaged Travel Insider features Uncle Sam's New York as one of the must-do events in the state of New York. The magazine is the only publication servicing all the needs of packaged travel planners, including group and packaged travel planning. With over 10,000 active readers passionate about travel, Packaged Travel Insider makes sure everything they recommend is an enjoyable experience for all types of travelers. They capture what our company is all about in just a few short paragraphs, letting those traveling to the NYC know what they are in for.Packaged Travel Insider stresses the importance of learning the city from an insightful native and confirms that Uncle Sam's can live up to this. To quote the article directly "They [Uncle Sam's New York] create a gateway for tourists, helping them navigate the streets, showing them some fun places to eat, drink, and see the locals. It's a formula that's part education, part entertainment, and part social experiment." The brief article also highlights the uniqueness of our certified tour guides who all have different backgrounds with a different story to tell. "Some are writers, others are enthusiastic history buffs, and others just enjoy introducing new people to the city they love."

To read the article in its entirety, check out an online version of the issue here.

For more reviews, be sure to visit TripAdvisor where you'll get the run-down from tourists and locals who already experienced our tours.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Bar Profile: Rudy's Bar and Grill

Rudy's Bar and grill, located in Hell's Kitchen, opened it's doors in 1933 by the Rudy family and was one of the first bars in New York City to receive a liquor license after prohibition had ended. Not much has changed since then including the original wooden front door which is still fully functional today. If you are lucky, you'll get to hear about this historical bar firsthand from the present owner Jack, who has been a regular at Rudy's since 1943. As you arrive at the entrance, you are greeted by a giant pig statue, which has become a landmark of the bar as well as a red neon sign displaying the bar's name. Inside, you see exactly what you'd expect from the winner of best dive bar by AOL-City Guide. Bar stools and tattered red banquettes up against beer stained tables furnish the bar for the most part. But just as you'd expect from a great dive bar, you also get cheap drinks, a great jukebox, and best of all FREE hot dogs.
Rudy's has 12 beers on tap including the house beer Rudy's red, which has a watered down taste but at $3 a pint you have to take what you can get. Other great deals include $7.50 PBR pitchers and McSorley's Ale cheaper than AT McSorley's! Catch the early bird special and pay only $4 for your cocktails and shots from 8am to 5pm. It's no wonder that Danny, a manager at the bar said “Rudy’s won’t match neighborhood Happy Hours. We refuse to raise our prices!” The jukebox, which blares all types of music from jazz to classic rock to mainstream music is also an attraction at Rudy's. To accompany your dirt-cheap drinks and good tunes you also have a complimentary hot dog which has lured in customers time and time again.During the warmer months the "backyard" (a tented concrete area) is open for fresh air and extra space. This does not prevent the bar from being extremely packed and noisy all the time so keep that in mind. Every Thursday the "Drinking Liberally" social group stops in at 7pm to discuss left-wing politics, which may intrigue/sway some of you away from stopping by the bar at that time depending on your political affiliation. Either way, Rudy's Bar and Grill is a historic landmark for bars in NYC and should be visited by all locals and tourists alike. With cheap prices and free hot dogs it's hard not to consider this a first-stop bar for the night.
To learn more about Rudy's Bar and Grill, be sure to check out their main site here.

For even more history, stories, and free drinks, dont forget to book the Hell's Kitchen Pub Crawl with Uncle Sam's New York Tours today!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Getting into NYC Nightclubs

So you want to enjoy New York City's legendary nightlife filled with dancing, drinking, socializing, and a story to go home with? Well we got good news for you. You can make this desire a reality as long you follow some unwritten nightlife rules. Some of these tips may be obvious, all are simple, but they are also key to having a successful clubbing experience in the city that never sleeps. The first step to enjoying a NYC nightclub is to actually GET IN the club. There's more to this than you may initially think so be prepared to get turned down if you don't take these things into consideration.
  • Get on the list
    • Planning to party at a nightclub does not have to be last minute. If you plan ahead and get on the guest list, you have a lot better chance of getting in. Go on the desired club's website or a promoter's website and look to sign up. It's always a good idea to get on a few club's guest lists if you are unsure of where you may end up.
  • Get in with promoters
    • If you decide to get on the list of a nightclub promoter make sure you get their name and number so you can give them a heads up when you arrive. Promoters make their money by getting people in the club, so they want you there. All you have to do is let them know when you show up and you'll jump that long line.
  • Book a table ahead of time
    • If you are traveling with a group or meeting up with friends at the same club, booking a table in advance is a great idea. It is a lot more convenient and you'll be able to cut the line. Booking a table can be done through promoters or nightlife tour companies, just remember to name drop the promoter or company at the door.
So far these tips have been for planning at least a day or two in advance. What if it's the day of and you haven't done any of the above? You may not be totally out of luck, but realize that it will be a bit tougher to get in and will most likely require waiting. Even if you did plan ahead, there are still things you need to take into consideration for the night of. Here are some last minute tips
  • Dress to impress
  • Arrive with women
    • Bouncers will let women in first so you'll probably get in faster if you're with a group of them. If you're a social butterfly and you're flying solo, you might want to get to know some ladies while on line.
  • Respect the bouncer
    • If you annoy the bouncer, you won't get in anytime soon it's as simple as that.
    • Asking stupid questions or being cocky won't help your chances but trying to be buddy buddy with the bouncer won't either. They aren't there to make friends, they're working
    • Tipping the bouncer is risky. Many bouncers won't accept tips and plenty will take your money and simply not let you in any sooner. With that in mind, I suggest saving your money to spend on a drink for the cute girl inside.
There you have it. If you keep these things in mind and follow some of the advice offered, you should have no problem getting into a NYC nightclub. Once in, expect to pay a cover charge at the door, especially at popular clubs on the weekends.

Enjoy the clubbing experience in New York City and don't hesitate to add suggestions or ask questions about these tips.

If you want the ultimate nightlife experience, including two free drinks, line cutting, drink specials, and the opportunity to meet new people, book Uncle Sam's New York's Chelsea Nightclub Tour operating every Friday and Saturday night.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Neighborhood Focus: Garment District

Despite being only one square mile in area, the Garment District of Manhattan still has a significant impact on the fashion industry and global business. The neighborhood is marked by the Javits Convention Center at the extreme west, the New York General Post Office, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden in the center, and the Empire State Building in the east. With over $14 Billion in annual sales, New York is the fashion capital of the United States with 1/3 of clothing manufactured in the U.S. being designed and produced in this neighborhood alone. Conferences, expositions, Fashion Week, and tourism all contribute to this outrageous statistic.

The growth of the Garment Industry dates back to the 1800's where there was a transition of people making their own clothes to having them tailor-made. Factors that contributed to this transition include the efficiency of having clothes produced for slaves instead of by them, the invention of the sewing machine, the need for uniforms during the Civil War, and the arrival of immigrants with relevant business experience and skills. By 1880 New York produced more garments than its four closest urban competitors combined and in 1910, 70% of the nation's Women's clothing and 40% of the Men's was produced in the City.
By the 1920's the United Hebrew Trades union hired Jewish and Italian Gangsters such as Lepke Buchalter as union enforcers, but got more than they bargained for. They used unions to demand payments from factory owners and threatened strikes while dipping into union bank accounts. This control transformed into a protection racket, expanding into such areas as bakery trucking. Shortly after Lepke Buchalter's death by the electric chair, Carlo Gambino turned the mob-influenced industry into an all out organized crime cartel. Life for the mob trucker couldn't get better through the early 90's, but everyone else was suffering.

From the mid-1950s until 1992, the garment business shrank 75 percent, and cost New York 225,000 jobs. Manufacturing has declined tremendously in New York City over the past two decades because of numerous factors such as lower outsourcing costs and excessive rents. Many of the showrooms and factories are being transformed into retail stores and condo apartments as we speak. Some of the industry's most famous designers, promising entrepreneurs, and fashion makers reside their business here including Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Liz Clairborne, and Nicole Miller. The Garment industry still remains the fashion capital for designers, couture houses and showrooms despite the decline of manufacturing.

To preserve the rich history of the Garment district, a Fashion Walk of Fame on 7th Avenue has been set up and a sculpture of a sewing worker has been installed on the corner of 39th Street and 7th Avenue. Some think this is not enough and have joined the Save the Garment Center campaign. To learn more check out the official site here.
Getter a better glimpse of the Garment district and learn more information about this neighborhood by taking the New York Up, Down, and Sideways tour offered Friday and Center.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Majestic Theatre on Broadway

The Majestic Theatre is one one of the largest Broadway theatres in New York City, with 1607 seats at its 245 West 44th Street location. Herbert J. Krapp designed the theatre in 1927 for Irwin Chanin, but was soon taken over by the present owners, the Shuberts, during the Great Depression. The interior of the theatre is a beautiful neo-classical design and has remained one of Broadway's premier musical houses. The most notorious shows that have premiered at the Majestic include
It was also the second home of 42nd Street and the third home of 1776. The theatre has shown The Phantom of the Opera since it opened on January 26,1988, the longest-running production in Broadway history with more than 8,000 performances! In 1987, both the interior and exterior of the theatre were designated as New York City Landmarks and people from all over the world stop by to take in how "majestic" this theatre really is.

Learn more about the Majestic Theatre by checking out an in depth timeline from the official site here.

You can experience this Theatre along with several other historic ones when you take the George M. Cohan Theatre District Tour...Book Now!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

This Month in New York History: July

July 3rd: On this date in 1819, the first savings bank in the United States opened in New York City. It was called the Bank of Savings and allowed for customers to deposit their savings safely. By 2002, there were 109 savings bank organizations in 92 countries. To learn more about the history of banks and commerce in New York take a walking tour of the financial district with one of our guides.

July 4th: On this date in 1827, slavery was abolished in New York State. New York has been a dynamic, diverse, melting pot for years now, despite being the capital for American salvery for nearly two centuries. The emancipation was celebrated with a long parade throughout the city and was a step in the right direction for equality. In 2005 and 2006, the New York Historical Society ran a landmark exhibition on the slavery and the making of New York. Check out their site to learn some interesting facts.

July 13th: On this date in 1863, the New York Draft Riots broke out in NYC. The rioters were protestors of new conscription laws for the Civil War and it is regarded as one of the worst riots in U.S. history. Buildings were set ablaze and the costed the city about 1 million dollars in property damages. Abraham Lincoln sent the army to contest the rioters and 120 casualties lost there lives over the span of three days. July 26th: On this date in 1788, New York became the 11th state to ratify the United States Constitution. By the end of May 1788, nine states had ratified but the next three, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York were necessary for success. This was no easy task and took months of debate. New York finally ratified by a vote of 30-27 and proposed 25 items in a Bill of Rights and 31 amendments.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

NY Craft Beer Week: because New York City is an amazing place to be a beer drinker

September 11-20, 2009 is the 2nd annual NY Craft Beer Week in NYC where locals are able to appreciate and take pride in the many different varieties of this delicious beverage. The goal of this event is to expose locals and visitors to various local beers and make the experience enjoyable with tons of activities. Some of these activities include tasting new styles of local beers, interactive pub crawls, beer dinners, scavenger hunts, and the Gotham cask ale fest. You can get your NYC Beer Passports in early August and be on your way to collecting stamps at some of the best beer bars in each of the neighborhoods, so don't miss out!. After participating in beer week you'll be an expert on different bars and local beers and will be able to show your friends and families your favorite ones.

For more events, details, dates, and updates on this year's NY Craft Beer Week check out the official site here and be sure to join the mailing list

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Bar Profile: White Horse Tavern

Located in the West Village at 567 Hudson street, this historic bar is frequented by tourists and locals wishing to sit in the same stool as famous artists of the past. The pub lives up to its name by displaying an overwhelming amount of white horses as the main decor. Go ahead and try to count the number of white horses in the bar, I dare you.The bar was founded in 1880, and you can certainly tell that some of the bar hasn't changed at all since then. This is definitely a cool aspect of the bar, making you feel just as Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan did, who saw this bar in a similar fashion years ago. In its early years, the bar was mainly frequented by longshoremen up until the 1950's where a Bohemian culture took over. The Clancy Brothers, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, and James Baldwin are some of the other greats who enjoyed a drink here. Dylan Thomas, however, is the artist most associated with Whitehorse Tavern. The Welsh Poet enjoyed his whiskey at "the horse" and legend has it he took 18 shots one night which is linked to his death. There is a whole room dedicated to Dylan Thomas where you can admire the poet and try to match his 18 shot record, although we do not recommend it. The Catholic Workers spent time at this bar and the idea for the Village Voice was stumbled upon here as well. The White Horse enjoys a rich history that you can only truly appreciate by wetting your whistle here firsthand.
Check out what other people are saying about White Horse Tavern here.

Get the full experience of the history of White Horse Tavern and plenty other historic bars by taking the West Village Pub Crawl Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

NYC Taxi Tips

It's nearly impossible to walk a few blocks in New York City and not see a yellow cab. There are over 10,000 taxis in New York City and while it may be one of the more expensive ways to travel, it is also the most convenient and most safe at night. Whether you're a tourist or a local, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while riding in a New York City Taxi. Everyone may know to refrain from smoking and to wear a seat belt, but some things may not be as obvious...

Finding a cab

  • Hail a cab by standing at a street corner in the direction you want to be going in and stick your hand straight out. It may be harder to get a cab during peak hours so don't be discouraged when taxis zoom by you.
  • Accept only yellow taxis with a TLC medallion on their hood. Taking other vehicles will cost you more money and aren't as safe.
  • It is important to note that an empty cab will have its numbers on the top illuminated (pictured left below), while an occupied cab will not (pictured right below). Also keep a lookout to see if the "Off Duty" light is illuminated or not.

Taxi Fares

Initial fare.............$2.50

Each 1/5 mile (4 blocks).$0.40
Each 1 minute idle.......$0.40
Peak surcharge...........$1.00 (after 4pm until 8pm Mon-Fri)
Night surcharge..........$0.50 (after 8pm until 6am)
Additional riders........FREE

Rides outside NYC

  • The above fares apply only to trips within NYC and to Newark Airport.
  • Trips oustide these zones will result in separate flat rates, which can be negotiated with the driver but don't expect it to be cheap.


  • Pay the amount on the meter and a tip even if it isn't technically mandatory
  • You should tip your driver 10-20% depending on the quality of service

These are the basics for riding NYC taxi cabs. Follow these simple procedures and you'll have a safe, easy ride to wherever your destination may be. For more information check out New York City Taxi Tips and Hints

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Neighborhood Focus: Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village Through the Centuries

16th Century: The site of Greenwich Village was inhabited by Native Americans during this time. The Village was merely a marshland named Sapokanican, used for camping and fishing.

17th and 18th Century: By the early 1600's, Dutch settlers had cleared pastures and planted crops in this area, which they called Noortwyck. After the English conquest of New Amsterdam in 1664, the settlement became a country hamlet, first referred to Grin’wich in 1713 Common Council records. Greenwich Village survived the American Revolution as a pastoral suburb and in the 1780s the city bought a parcel of eight acres for use as a potter’s field and public gallows, at what is now Washington Square Park.

19th Century: Outbreaks of yellow fever and cholera caused flocks of people to flee north which contributed to a time of seclusion of the area. From 1820 a more affluent residential development emerged to the east near Broadway and Washington Square Park, at the foot of Fifth Avenue. Religious denominations commissioned buildings with elaborate decorative schemes, New York University grew on the east side of Washington Square beginning in 1836, and the neighborhood soon became the site of art clubs, , literary salons, fine hotels, and theaters. The character of the neighborhood changed markedly at the close of the century when German, Irish, and Italian immigrants found work in industries in the area.

20th Century: By the start of World War I it was widely known as a bohemian enclave with secluded side streets, low rents, and a tolerance for radicalism and nonconformity. Artists and writers received more attention for their innovative work and decrepit row houses were remodeled into “artistic flats.” The Village had become a center for the “beat movement” by the 1950s, with galleries, coffee houses, and street front theaters. During the 1960s a homosexual community formed around Christopher Street and was the site of the Stonewall Rebellion, regarded as the beginning of the movement for gay and lesbian rights. In the 1940s, urban renewal efforts on Washington Square South had altered the physical character of the neighborhood by demolishing many 19th century structures, but local resentment inspired a preservation movement.

Recent Years: The extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District and the creation of the Weehawken Street Historic District in 2006 were the results of the goal to preserve the waterfront. These recent landmarking victories were successful because of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation. The Society continues to work in close connection with the community to uphold the goals and protect the undesignated neighborhoods. Tourists and locals flock to the Village to live the history of the neighborhood and enjoy the artsy feel. Coffee shops, restaurants, and bars are always packed in this area mostly by a younger, hip crowd. Below is a video made a couple years ago that highlights some of Greenwich Village, in particular Washington Square Park.

To read more about the history of Greenwich Village check out The Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation.

Now YOU can experience what Greenwich Village is all about by taking the Edgar Allen Poe Greenwich Village Tour.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Remember the Time: New York's Reaction to the Death of Michael Jackson

As most of the world already knows, the King of Pop passed away last evening after suffering from cardiac arrest, but how would the world react? There has been plenty of controversy with Michael over the past several years, but that seemed to all vanish on June 25th 2009. The world mourned the death of the icon especially all over New York City. The Apollo theater, the site where Michael performed at the age of 9, displayed the marquee "In memory of Michael Jackson, a true Apollo legend." Reverand Al Sharpton gave his thoughts on the King of Pop as the crowd around him held pictures, imitated MJ's moonwalk, and of course played his music. Times Square had a similar reaction as tons of people stared at the giant TV, while The Madame Tussauds wax museum moved actor Nicolas Cage's statue from its front window and replaced it with one of Jackson. Spontaneous dancing and commemoration broke out in random parts of the city, like on 125th street where the hit "Billie Jean" was blasting. People from all different backgrounds coming from all different countries shared a common mourning in NYC as we lost a revolutionary icon who changed the face of music and will never be forgotten. Read more about the effect of Michael Jackson's Death in NYC in the recent post by the Daily News here.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Bar Profile: Kenny's Castaways

Kenny's Castaways, located on 157 Bleecker Street, is a legendary bar that has been opening its doors to live music since 1967. Patrick Kenny, the founder of the bar, gave up and coming musicians their chance to shine up until his death in 2002. Patrick's legacy still continues today, however, and his son says "the visible traces of Kenny's history and my dad's presence are preserved in stories told on our bar stools and the smell of the whiskey soaked floors."

If you think rockstars start off selling shows in giant venues right off the bat, think again. Most spend their startups in small venues like Kenny's Castaways waiting to be heard. Kenny's itself has welcomed Aerosmith, Blues Travleler, Lynard Skynard, upon hundreds of over bands before they hit it big. In fact, Bruce Springsteen played his first gig here. Check out the flyer below and note the mispelling of his name. You can be certain that wouldn't happen today!The bar has a cozy feel to it and offers tons of live shows multiple times a day. The stage is quite small but the upstairs offers a great view performances when the downstairs is crowded, making it a great experience for everyone. It's a casual bar so no need to dress up. Let's face it, rockers play here so it's what you'd expect. The coolest part about this bar is the sign above the entrance to the stage area which reads "Through these portals, walk the famous." It's a great way to remember all the talent this bar has seen over the past 40+ years, and also a way support the talent of today.

The clip below features the band Relentless 7, formed in 2008 featuring Grammy award winner Ben Harper as the lead man. It's a great cover of the Led Zeppelin hit "Good Times, Bad Times" and shows the talent of today paying tribute to the past.

To reminiscent on the greats who started off here, grab a cold one, and maybe see the next big thing, book the West Village Pub Crawl today and explore other historic bars while you're at it.

Neighborhood Focus: Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park has been recognized as a public park since 1847, but has existed as a public space since 1686. The park is named after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison and has hosted historic events and seen plenty changes over the years. Baseball, America's pastime, is said to have began in this park after Alexander Cartwright formed the first baseball club in 1845. The park has also hosted the first two Madison Square Gardens, the arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty, as well as temporary arches commemorating George Washington's first integration all at the end of the 19th Century. This was a time where Madison Square was the focal point one of Manhattan's most elite neighborhoods.

The park was the site of the tallest building in the world in 1909, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building pictured on the left, and also featured America's first community Christmas tree in 1912. Despite its huge impact in history, the park was in disrepair in the 1990's with lack of maintenance and increase in crime. The City Parks Foundation would not let this historic park just deteriorate however, and raised 6 million dollars during a capital restoration project completed in 2001. Now the park is popular as ever with a recently added playground, kept lawns and gardens, and even cultural programs.

To read a more in depth history about Madison Square Park be sure to check out the park's official site here.

Also, don't miss this historic attraction and plenty others on our Abraham Lincoln Union Square and Gramercy tour this Independence Day! Reserve here now!

Friday, 19 June 2009

HUGE Promotion on Groupon TODAY

TODAY, Uncle Sam's New York is offering 50% off our Pub Crawls until 10/27!

While there are many ways to learn about the history of New York, is there any more enjoyable way than to relive it in the legendary pubs and taverns of the Big Apple? Our pub crawls bring you to the sites where history transpired and we tell you the tales of the legendary poets, artists, politicians, and rock stars that frequented them. You’ll hear about the riots, the urban legends, and even the gang activities that took place in some of these establishments all while enjoying a few cold ones. From the oldest Irish taverns to the bars featured in classic novels and movies, our pub crawls are filled with unique stories, great socializing, and of course…beer!

With this deal, you pay only $25 for 3 drinks, an opportunity to meet new people, and a great way to learn about some of the most historic pubs New York City has to offer! Better yet, you get this deal for any pub crawl until 10/27/09! For more information on the different tours check out the East Village Pub Crawl, the West Village Pub Crawl, the Hell's Kitchen Pub Crawl, and the Empire State Pub Crawl.

If you are not familiar with Groupon, the concept is quite simple. The site offers something cool to do each day at a huge discount. The only catch is that you only get the great deal if enough people join that day - so invite your friends!

Here is what you have to do TODAY

1. Visit THIS LINK!

2. Click BUY where you will be prompted to fill out some basic information or login if you have an account already

3. Invite all your friends so everyone can enjoy this incredible deal!

THAT'S IT! So sign up TODAY and come out and join us. We will make sure that you Go Home with a Story

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

NYC Buses Tips

Using the bus system in New York is convenient and can be very efficient, but there are several things you must know before you take that first step on the bus. released a great guide that narrows down the important tips under 8 essential steps. We condensed them down to 3 so let's quickly run through these...

1. Find the RIGHT bus stop
  • Bus stops are always on street corners and displays a bus emblem and route numbers.
  • Most stops have a "Guide-A-Ride," a rectangular box that displays route maps and schedules.
  • Bus routes are designated by a letter by a number and it is important to take note of the prefixes: "M" buses operate mainly in Manhattan, "B" buses in Brooklyn, "Bx" buses in Bronx, "Q" buses in Queens, "S" buses in Staten Island, "X" buses are Express buses.
2. Getting on the Bus
  • Once the bus arrives at your stop wait for passengers to get off the bus BEFORE you start to get on. Most drivers will enforce this so don't get too pushy.
  • All buses are "kneeling" making them wheelchair accessible.
  • Pay the $2 fare as soon as you get on the bus with either change or your metro card. Bus drivers do not have change and will not accept bills or pennies.
  • If you plan to transfer to an intersecting route, you must ask the driver for a free transfer ticket. Note that the ticket is only valid for one hour in a SINGLE direction.
3. Getting off the Bus
  • Signal the driver to stop by pressing the tape strip located above the windows.
  • When exiting from the rear door, you will see a green light indicating these doors can be opened and are sometimes automatic.
There you have it. If you follow these simple tips you will be able to ride the buses without any problems. If you have an ending address, check out for precise directions made quick and easy.

Please feel free to share any additional tips!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bar Profile: McSorley's Old Ale House

McSorley's Old Ale House, located in the East Village at 15 E. 7th Street, is a historic bar that has attracted locals and tourists for over 150 years. An Irish immigrant by the name of John McSorley opened up the bar after being driven out of his homeland shortly after the potato famine. The play "McSorley's Inflation" opened on Broadway in 1882 and essentially put the bar on the map. Since then, the bar has been an inspiration for the works of artists like John Sloan and writers such as E.E. Cummings and Joseph Mitchell.
If you come here to drink, you must like beer, and you must like McSorley's Ale because that is all they have. The good thing is that it's pretty damn good! The beer comes in 8 oz steins in two varieties, light and dark (very creative). When you order one you get two, not a bad deal right? The only catch is that you have to keep drinking. You'll be shown the door if you stop drinking as they don't take kindly to freeloaders. They even adopted the slogan "Be good or be gone" as their motto.

McSorley's, has welcomed many celebrities over the years including Teddy Roosevelt, John Lennon and the New York Rangers who drank McSorley's Ale from the Stanley Cup after their victory. The bar is also home to priceless decor including the last photo of Babe Ruth, an original invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, and an original Wanted sign for John Wilkes Booth. One cannot walk into McSorley's without noticing the incredibly dusty ancient gas lamp up above. Supposedly, soldiers hung wishbones on this lamp before heading off to war only to be removed if they returned. It now serves as a memorial and a sign of respect.The bottom line with McSorley's Ale House is that it's a old fashioned bar with rich history. It's not a place for a nice meal, cocktail, or quiet conversation. The forms of payment is still primitive, accepting only cash and the urinals in the Men's bathroom hasn't been renovated since 1911. Can you tell? It's nonetheless a historic New York City bar where one can enjoy the game, the unique decor, and a damn good beer. It is clearly a must-see in New York.
For more on McSorley's Ale House be sure to check out Sean Parnell's article with the Chicago Bar Project.

To LIVE the history of this bar as well as others in the East Village, book the East Village Pub Crawl with Uncle Sam's New York today!

Friday, 12 June 2009

NY SKYRIDE - "Feel the Sights" just posted a cool article on our tours with NY SKYRIDE so make sure you check it our here.

The NY SKYRIDE, which offers virtual New York sightseeing tours from the comfort of an Empire State Building theater, is a great way to see the attractions of the city and has been a hit for years. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that Uncle Sam's New York has teamed up with the company to create an even better for our guests. Visitors can enjoy the heights and sights with the “New York From Up Down and Sideways” tour, ideal for families. This tour runs Fridays & Sundays at 2pm and offers a comprehensive intro to New York City including the virtual tour of NY SKYRIDE, views from the cloud level observation deck of the Empire State Building and plenty escorted attractions of the city. For more information on this tour click here.

Uncle Sam's New York also offers the "Empire State Pub Crawl" 5:30pm every Saturday, where tourists a
re taken back in time to the1930s to explore the majestic art deco Empire State Building. The Pub Crawl includes the NY SKYRIDE and FAST TRACK express passage to the observation deck and guides of three historical bars where guests receive free drinks. For the full scoop click here.

With the NY SKYRIDE you don't just see the sights of New York City you "Feel them" so don't miss out!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Greenwich Village Travel Tips – 2009 is a must experience year!

By Jared the tour guide Goldstein, Exclusively for Uncle Sam’s New York

2009 is an exciting year for Washington Square Park and its Greenwich Village neighborhood. The main part of Washington Square Park re-opened in late May after being closed for a couple of years for the park’s first renovation in decades. The 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising this June 2009. The 400th Anniversary of Hudson exploring New Netherlands Dutch Party in September 2009. The 36th Annual Halloween Parade.

After community oversight, some lawsuits, some lost trees, the newly re-opened and redesigned Washington Square Park enjoys increased access to the lovely grass, and pedestrian flow and seating abound in the new plan, which is sort of neo-proto-Vaux. The fountain has been centered behind the Washington Arch. Flowers in beds were abundant and lovely. The old seedy weed dealers were nowhere in sight, but there were plenty takers for chess playing partners just like in "Searching for Bobby Fischer".

The Stonewall Uprising of June 28, 1969 is the touchstone for the Gay Civil Rights movement. The Heritage of Pride Parade will start in Bryant Park at 2 PM on June 20, 2009 and end on Christopher and Greenwich Streets at 6 PM, followed on June 28, by a huge party on Pier 54, the pier which never saw the return of the Titanic. To learn more visit

NYC 400 Week is coming September 8–13, and the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion, a gift from the Netherlands designed by Ben van Berkel, will be unveiled in Battery Park in late 2009. For more information, visit and search “NYC 400.” To experience Battery Park and environs, take the Alexander Hamilton Financial District Tour.The 36th Village Halloween Parade is a must-experience for all adults, and anyone can march! This Halloween Year will be a haunted Saturday Night!! Don’t come to NYC without a costume, or expect huge lines with picked over selections and put-upon sales clerks who were raised as Marilyn Manson’s kids. Read more about the parade on our older blog post here! To join the parade or the party visit Make your Greenwich Village 2009 plans ASAP, and book the Edgar Allen Poe Greenwich Village Tour now. Get the lay of the land with an expert Uncle Sam’s NY Guide.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The #1 Site for New York Visitors recaps the Empire State Pub Crawl

Kristopher Carpenter, a NYC official City Guide Magazine representative, recently took the Empire State Pub Crawl and we thought you should here about his experience.

Uncle Sam's New York - An Intoxicating Bit of History
May 31, 2009 - by Kristopher Carpenter

Welcome to New York -- you’ve survived the Disneyland-like taxi ride and found your way to the accommodations that you’ve provisioned for your trip. Perhaps you’re thinking of walking around Manhattan, planning on taking in a few of the sights, maybe stopping at a bar or two, and going to the top of the Empire State Building. With so many options and so much to see, why not kill a few birds with one stone? Uncle Sam’s New York Tours will take care of several of these desires at one time with their Empire State Pub Crawl -- offered every Saturday at 5:30pm. The meet up is Heartland Brewery’s fantastic location, actually in residence at 350 Fifth Avenue (better known as the Empire State Building). Heartland is a must for any visitor to NYC, especially if you enjoy good beer. Offering a great variety of signature and seasonal handcrafted ales -- from the award-winning Farmer John’s Oatmeal Stout to the Not Tonight Honey Porter -- and, in one of the funniest coincidences ever, upon reaching the bottom of the staircase, welcoming guests to the Empire State Bar Crawl is none other than Uncle Sam himself!Besides what will almost certainly prove to be a more rollicking experience than you might get on another tour, Uncle Sam’s also offers a significant value to their patrons. For the sticker price of $90, the Empire State Pub Crawl includes three cocktails, admission to the Empire State Building’s virtual rolle rcoaster -- NY SKYRIDE -- and fast-tracked access to the world famous observation deck, the highest land-bound vantage point in Manhattan. Individually, these components would set you back at least $70, so for an extra $20, spread out over 4.5 hours, you get your own private guide to the city and trust me: they know a lot about this town. Even a New Yorker can learn a slew of fun new facts about Manhattan. Here are a few that I picked up:

• Broadway is the oldest north-south thoroughfare in the city. So old, that it was in fact a trading route for Native Americans. It earned its nickname, “The Great White Way,” when nearly a mile of Broadway was illuminated in 1880 by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.

• The Empire State Building commenced construction during the Great Depression, in 1929. Workers sometimes worked triple shifts with amazing efficiency, finishing the building in only 410 days, months ahead of schedule, and $5-$20 million under budget.

• In another odd coincidence, Henry Hudson, namesake of the Hudson River discovered Manhattan on September 11th, 1609 and made landfall within a mile of where the World Trade Centers stood.

Thirsty yet? I hope so boys and girls, because after the observation deck it’s just a stroll across 33rd Street to Jack Dempsey’s. In yet another interesting bit of NYC history, Jack Dempsey was a boxing legend, and from 1919-1926 he was the reigning world heavyweight champ before he opened his own restaurant and bar in 1935. After a few Guinness or maybe a spot of Jameson, head south under the banner of Uncle Sam’s as your tour guide entertains with amusing anecdotes, answers questions and leads everyone to the front of one of the best rooftop bars in t
own named, simply, 230 5th which happens to be the address. Jump in the elevator and take it to the top where a lounge and upstairs rooftop awaits. Be sure to look up while stepping onto the plush rooftop patio for one of the best, free views of the Empire State Building to be had. This is the decompression part of the evening, so gather round and socialize or huddle up with your tour guide for a few more history lessons. This trip is a one-of-a-kind journey covering about a mile amidst the imbibing of cocktails in exciting, historic, and exclusive locales.
The Empire Pub Crawl isn't the only option. For the theater buff, the Hell’s Kitchen Bar Crawl takes you through the Theatre District, to bars where famous stars and playwrights used to relax and talk shop. From there you’ll head west to the infamous headquarters of the Westies gang members. Discover the hidden stories that lurk beyond the pristine confines of Times Square in this classic Irish immigrant that earned this neighborhood the moniker "Hell's Kitchen." Or, if it’s the glam nightlife of the Meatpacking District that you’re craving, take the Marilyn Monroe Nightclub Tour with VIP admission and no lines included in the price of the tour. If you’re looking to really tear-up the town in style then it’s time for the good life with Frank Sinatra’s Limousine Tour. It's a 10-hour cruise in the lap of luxury like “Old Blue Eyes” used to do for just $160.

In addition to bar crawls and nightlife, Uncle Sam’s offers several walking tours sans alcohol daily. So if it’s a family vacation, take the kids on the Edgar Allen Poe Greenwich Village Tour and discover the myriad stories within the winding streets of New York’s hotbed for art and poetry. There are several other walking tour options, all priced at just $20 for adults and $16 for children. Private tours are also available for parties of ten or more, as are multilingual tour guides.

As their slogan says “Uncle Sam wants you to see the real New York” and not only do they deliver it in a unique and exciting way – the options are suited to serve every appetite and price range so take a look at and book your way into the heart and soul of the city with good ol’ Uncle Sam.

Click here to check out the original article in the magazine and

Click here to book the Empire State Pub Crawl.

Don't take our word for it, listen to the experts!