Last June, Bill Di Paola, one of the director’s of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, gave me a walking tour of the neighbourhood’s public gardens and squats. Di Paola is a pioneering cycling activist and community organizer, and the small but fascinating museum is a great stop in and of itself. But it’s the walking tours they offer that drew me. “Come visit legendary historic sites where the community faced off with gentrification and corporate power” is the pitch; that’s my kind of tour.
MoRUS was one of three “alternative” walking tours I did in New York. There’s a short article about all three in the brand-new June issue of WestJet’s up! magazine (download the digital issue and flip to page 14).
I also spent an amazing afternoon wandering around Brooklyn with New York Like A Native‘s Norman Oder (pictured on the home page), who shows visitors a side of the borough that the tour busses don’t reveal. He offers a dizzying array of tours, and customized itineraries as well. Spending a few hours with Oder and hearing his personal stories made the experience. (One of Oder’s other passions is his website The Atlantic Yards Report, a thorough evisceration of the $4.9 development in Brooklyn that includes the Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Nets, if any Raptor fans out there are looking for another source of spite over Toronto’s first-round playoff loss.)