One of my favorite things to do in the city is explore it via Soundwalk. For those of you who haven’t heard of Soundwalk, get your walking shoes on and your iPods charged! It’s perhaps one of the most innovative way to explore neighborhoods in NYC (and a few other cities), and leads you through the hoods like a true local.
Soundwalk started in the early 2000s, and “made its name by producing cutting-edge audio guides, mixing fiction and reality to provide an exclusive and poetic discovery of a city, on the bridge between Baudelairian stroll and cinematic experience.”
You download the tour to your iPod, hop on the subway, and go to your neighborhood of choice. Following the instructions, head to the starting point. The narrator, usually a native of that part of town, leads you through the streets of their neighborhood, visiting cafes, stores, parks, religious institutions, lofts, bakeries, and even apartments. While walking, they give you a bit of history on the hood, and explain to you in vivid detail what makes it tick.
Thus far, I have embarked on the following tours, all of which I would highly recomend for not only a one-of-a-kind city adventure, but also culture like you’ve never seen before:
1.) Woman’s Hasidic Walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn…traipsing through yiddish bakeries and speciality hardware stores that bless the silverware before you take it home.
2.) The Chinatown Walk, which gives you the code to a rickety old apartment building, urges you to peek through the crack of the door, truly making you feel like the ultimate trespasser…but eventually leaves you inside a Buddhist temple.
3.) The Meatpacking Tour, merging the grotesque history of slaughtered animals with the fashion savvy night clubs…and giving you the building code for an artist’s studio.
4.) Little Italy, for anyone who has ever wanted to know where the oldest cheese shop and best cannoli are located.
I would pinpoint the Hasidic Walk in Brooklyn as my favorite, simply because the content of the walk was most foreign and thus most interesting to me. Being completely immersed in another culture just a few short miles away from your apartment is one of the wonderful things about NYC, and Soundwalk gives you an hour to really walk in the shoes of that culture, so to speak.
What are your favorite NYC hoods to explore?
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen