So you are interested in becoming a tour guide huh? I moved to New York as an actress and a singer and took work wherever I could find it. I worked near Grand Central for a property management company and used to walk through the building and go downstairs for lunch almost every other day. I loved the building! And always said to myself “One day I am going to take a tour and learn it’s history”. Well…. after working 9-5pm and doing shows every evening 6-11pm and volunteering for various charitable organizations I finally decided that was enough. Eventually, I tried working for another company as an executive assistant and it was great pay and benefits but most definitely the exact opposite of what I was looking for in terms of flexibility. Soooo….. I looked into other job options and decided that I would finally take that Grand Central tour. It turned into my asking the company if they were hiring….and the answer was “YES, but get your license”. So here we are.
So, what do you need to know or do first? Well first visit the DCA website (https://www1.nyc.gov/nycbusiness/description/sightseeing-guide-license) so you can follow all the steps you need to pass the exam.
Next, the thing you need to know is that there are 150 multiple choice questions. They provide you with a PDF with suggested recommendations however it might as well be like a needle in hay stack. From what I remember you should know some of the following too:
*New York Ethnic foods: Bialys, Batidas, Dim Sum, Kim Chi, Halal (what Halal means)
*What the Satmar Jews opposition to the state of Israel.
*Where Jackie O lived.
*John Lennon lived/died and where is ashes are scattered and what’s the name of the song on his memorial.
*Directions from midtown to the Cloisters and Wave Hill (No Henry Hudson parkway because no buses allowed)
*What a Botanica is.
*What’s special about the Ansonia Hotel.
*Where they filmed Cosby Show-famous street.
*Where they filmed Ghostbusters and what’s so special about that firehouse.
*All the museums of NYC and what they are famous for especially the famous touristy ones.
*All NYC Landmarks and who built them like Chrysler Building, Carnegie Hall (who was the conductor opening night).
*What’s special about the Campbell apartment in Grand Central.
*What trains run where on the NYC subway map…Like does the 7 go to Brooklyn?
*Roosevelts Birthplace address.
*What the Jewish Daily Forward is.
*You should know where famous statues and monuments stand and where…Like Jackie Gleason is at Port Authority…
*The Cathedrals and where they are located and what style of architecture they are.
*The Cemeteries and what famous people buried/Who built them.
*Know who Bryant of Bryant Park is and what he is famous for.
*Where the Masjid Malcolm Shabazz is located and what it looks like.
*Know where they shot tv show “friends”.
*When slavery was legally abolished.
*Oldest Theatre and comedy club in NYC is.
*What the cotton club is/was famous for.
*The movie All About Eve and where it was filmed.
*What the Harlem renaissance was.
*What the Giglio parade is and where it is located.
*The New Colossus poem and who it was written by and where it is located in NYC.
*What CBGB is and what it is famous for.
*Where the Diamond district is located and what is special about closing the deals.
*Stonewall Inn Riots.
*Off Broadway theatres and Broadway Theatres.
*Dakota Apartments/Majestic apartments/Hotel Des Artists and what’s special and who Lived/Died there.
Here’s some extra links to help you out:
Finally, I suggest reading the blue guide book as suggested and try and take as many walking tours as you can. You should also think about what your most passionate about in NYC and start there with familiarizing yourself with what makes it unique and awesome.
The test was designed to teach the tour guide and it definitely does it’s job.