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Travel Logs July 2016

Compulsive Traveler

New York City for Free

By Sandra Scott

One of NYC’s newest attractions is the open-air African American Burial Ground. A construction project in 1991 uncovered more than 400 caskets of slaves from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina.

New York City is always on the list as one of the most expensive cities in the world and thus one of the most costly places to visit. However, there are many free things available for tourists.

  1. Big Apple Greeters: Take a free tour with a Greeter. Big Apple Greeter is a not-for-profit organization that matches visitors with New Yorkers who want to share the city they call home. All Greeters are volunteers “friends” – they are not paid professional tour guides, and tipping is not allowed. A typical tour is a walking tour of an area where the Greeter has expertise, and usually lasts two to four hours. Requests should be made three to four weeks ahead of time.

  2. Central Park: Most parks are free but most parks are not like Central Park. The Central Park Conservancy offers a variety of inexpensive tours but visitors are free to explore the park on their own. Free downloadable maps are available on the Conservancy’s web site or one can be picked up at one of their visitor’s centers. Of special interest are places like Strawberry Fields with the “Imagine” mosaic and the statue of Balto, the sled dog who inspired the yearly Iditarod Race.

  3. Staten Island Ferry: The Staten Island Ferry has been carrying passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island since 1905 and has been dubbed “One of the world’s greatest and smallest water voyages.” The ferry runs 24 hours a day year-round. The five mile, 25-minute ride offers majestic views of the NYC skyline – day and night. It is necessary to get off and then reboard for the return trip. Avoid rush hour.

  4. Downtown Connection: The bright red, handicap-accessible Downtown Connection bus is a free service that connects the South Street Seaport with the Battery and City Hall Park, making 37 stops along the way. The stops are convenient to all of Lower Manhattan, subway lines, and many attractions. Service is provided seven days a week from10 a.m., and ends with a final run at 7:30 p.m.

  5. 9/11 Memorial: The Memorial honors the lives of those who were lost in the World Trade Center attack. The names of every person who died in the attacks on both February 26, 1993, and September 11, 2001, are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. There are signboards, with one telling about the "Survivor Tree" discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged and still survived. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is not free.

  6. High Line: The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Knowledgeable docents offer twice-a-week walking tours, giving visitors an insider’s perspective on the park’s history. It is accessed by elevator and stairs at various points.

  7. National Museum of the American Indian: The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, arts, and diversity of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. There are permanent displays highlighting the various Native American cultures along with changing exhibits and special presentations.

  8. Art: The Chelsea area is home for many free art galleries. Most are between 20th to 29th streets between 10th and 11th avenues. There are several museums that are always free, such as the American Folk Art Museum, while some art museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art offer “Pay What You Wish” Friday evenings.

  9. African American Burial Ground: One of NYC’s newest attractions is the open-air African American Burial Ground. A construction project in 1991 uncovered more than 400 caskets of slaves from an age when New York had more slaves than any American city outside Charleston, South Carolina. Free ranger-led tours are available but must be requested two weeks in advance.

  10. More freebies: There is an event and/or parade nearly every weekend somewhere in the city. The Juilliard School of Music often has free performances. Many of the city’s buildings have amazing interiors and can be entered free including Grand Central Terminal, the Federal Reserve Bank, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Chrysler Building.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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