Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Just who is "Tony the Tour Guy?"

Back in 1997 I started doing walking tours concentrating upon the more offbeat parts of NYC - typically on weekends and after work. Wanting to maintain a certain separation from my day job (and since most folks seem to have trouble pronouncing my surname) I decided to stick with the nickname "Tony the Tour Guy." It sounded right to me. I'm not a moonlighting history or architecture professor, just a native of Brooklyn (currently residing in Queens) who enjoys learning about our crazy patchwork of a town's history and sharing what he knows with others.

Most of my tours cover Queens, Brooklyn and Roosevelt Island. It's not that I have anything against Manhattan, but there are dozens of folks out there covering the Village, Harlem, SoHo, the Lower East Side, etc - and doing a damn good job of it. I like to think that I've carved a good little niche for myself - especially in the Western Queens areas of Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside. These communities are loaded with fascinating history, great food and loads of really hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people who are doing a wonderful job at helping their neighborhoods and each other.

My "credentials?" Well, I got interested in local history back in 1980 - while taking a graduate course in NYC's future at Columbia, although you could say that I inherited my passion for the subject from my mother, who was always scouting out obscure ethnic eateries and offbeat architecture in Brooklyn. Mostly it was just a hobby of mine until one night in 1996 when I had dinner with a pal who had just quit a job as a guide for a (fortunately now-defunct) double-decker tour bus company. Over plates of bifstec at an Astoria Colombian restaurant, we decided that the only way to really see this town was on foot- and that there was a real need for tours concentrating on the more offbeat, quirky and blue-collar sections of the outer boroughs. We both got our Sightseeing Guide licenses (yes, you need a license from Consumer Affairs to do tours!) and started laying the groundwork. Then my buddy got cold feet, but I was psyched to go. My first tour, in April, 1997, consisted of the Brooklyn Bridge and parts of Fulton Landing.

Since then, I have amassed a collection of dozens of books, periodicals, etc on our town, and have provided tours to unions, religious groups, schools and social clubs, as well as the general public. John Montone interviewed me on WINS Radio for the 75th Anniversary of the Three Stooges. And you'll find my articles on various topics all over tne Net.

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At 10:44 AM , Anonymous Kathleen said...

Tony, this is my first time visiting your blog site and I LOVE IT. It looks great and the articles are interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed the last tour of yours that I joined, and hope to participate in another soon. Best wishes.


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