Cows grazing in meadows, thousands of convicts overflowing from prisons, and mob bosses being thrown in jail aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking of New York City. Yet this was once the norm in Foley Square in the lower Manhattan area that now houses the beautiful courthouses.
The neighborhood is made up of stately buildings with white granite exteriors interspersed with public sculptures and open green spaces. Linda, a court stenographer, convenes the tour at the Surrogate’s Courthouse. This court itself hides the meadows in which the cows once grazed in lower Manhattan.
Continuing on to the equally impressive Tweed Courthouse, lined by ornate granite columns,we were shocked to hear the criminal history of this building that now upholds the law. Tweed Courthouse was first hometo a poorhouse and then a front for the famous mob boss, William M. Tweed, to embezzle millions of dollars. The buildings’ honor was reclaimed when the boss himself was tried and convicted within the very same building.
We continued to the previous prisons and other remnants of Manhattan’s past, stepping inside a courthouse and even meeting a judge. Linda disclosed the inner workings of the court with which she is familiar with through her job. To gain a legal, historical, and even insider view on lower Manhattan, meet Linda at the Surrogate’s Courthouse.
There is no better place to feel the holiday spirit than Fifth Avenue, and yet Fifth Avenue is always in season. Joy, an artist who has been featured in the New York Times for her work, has been enamored with the avenue for as long as she can remember. Beginning at the pinnacle of luxury, at the world famous Plaza, Joy shared the lively history of the hotel. We then entered the lobby to trace the steps of Eloise, the famous fictional child resident. Visiting her portrait and the shop downstairs replete with Eloise dolls, life size wardrobe options for children, and a tea room for the true Eloise experience, it is clear this is the most fun way to see the Plaza.
We continued outside the Plaza to the Paris theatre, the locale for many a movie premiere. Joy knew the stories of celebrity jealousy and anger that caused a few scenes, sharing them in detail.
The next stop on the avenue was the department store, Bergdorf Goodman, the store that will ruin you for all other department stores. Joy described the artistry behind the decorations such as the white branch covered chandelier or white feather draped display.
Yet a visit to Fifth Avenue cannot be complete without seeing Tiffany’s, the place “where nothing bad ever happens” according to Holly Golightly. Listening to the history of the Tiffany’s empire and the store’s crown jewel, the yellow diamond, that is over 250 carats, you understand where the true magic of the store originates.
Joy enthusiastically continues the tour through the other highlights of Fifth Avenue proclaiming, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The tour ends at the bottom ofManhattan where Joy shares some of the most shocking history of the city. If you want the full Fifth Avenue experience from Eloise to the sordid celebrity tales to department store heaven, book this experience with Joy!