Obscura Society NY Presents: From Sunshine to Shadow - Atlas Obscura
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New York, New York

Obscura Society NY Presents: From Sunshine to Shadow

A Multilayered NYC Walking Tour

"Visitors to New York in the 1840s asked to see two sights first: the mansions of Washington Square and the hovels of the Five Points." - Broadway Moves Uptown

Around that same time, the wealthiest enclave in New York was Astor Place, home of the Astors, Delanos and Morgans. The Parthenon-like edifice was physically situated on the top of a dome of high ground in the city, where Cooper Union is today. From there, an easy 15-20 minute walk downhill was the Five Points, the city's most notorious, riotous slum, made famous first by Charles Dickens on his visit in 1842, then by Martin Scorsese in The Gangs of New York.

Contemporaries, Astor Place and the Five Points were the "Sunshine and Shadow" of their day, and in between them, when Fifth Avenue was still farmland, the early city pulsed with shops, theaters, hotels, museums and fine residential homes along today's Broadway, now Noho and Soho. This tour recreates one of the most-requested walking tours of the 1840s, seeking out what's left from that early world class city, when women wore the big hoop skirts and we communicated by Morse code. What happened to it, what replaced it, and where it went will be another layer to the tour as we make our way down to discover what remains of the old Five Points neighborhood.

Rob Amell will guide us on a journey through time, identifying patterns in the streetscape that are the hallmarks of different eras. We'll learn how to decode the vortex of history that swept up the island through the bottleneck that was today's Broadway in Soho, discover why the city looks the way it does and begin to deconstruct the unbelievably rich history of Manhattan island.


Saturday, November 22; 10:30am - 1:00pm
Tickets: $25
Meetup will be on the front steps of the Public Theater, aka the Joseph Papp Theater, located at 425 Lafayette Street at Astor Place. Please arrive on time, our tour will begin promptly at 10:30 am.
Our tour will be ending at Columbus Park in Chinatown, near Foley Square and the court district.