All Tours, Public Tours

Landmark Explorer – Grand Central to Rockefeller Center

Join CityRover for a walking tour covering some of NY's most famous landmarks

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Tour type: Public Tour

Tour Summary:

Skip the double-decker tour buses stuck in traffic and the huge tour groups following a guide with a flag and a microphone down 42nd street. On this 3-hour tour of Midtown, we will take you on a fun, intimate, and informative exploration of some of the most beautiful and important buildings and landmarks in the commercial heart of New York City. You are likely to walk away knowing more about Midtown than the millions of the daily commuters who take it for granted.

Basic Tour Info:

Schedule: Saturdays at 10am
Length and Distance: 3 to 3.5 hours; 2 miles on foot (3 kilometers)
Cost: $45 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and under
Size: Maximum group size is 12 adults
Break: There will be 1 bathroom break
Language: Our tours are currently offered only in English
Private Option: This tour is also offered privately
Location: Starts near Grand Central Terminal (you will receive detailed info after booking), ends near Rockefeller Center (directions can be provided upon request)

The CityRover Promise:

• An interactive, informative, and fun tour, with memorable stories and great photo opportunities
• No more than 12 adults, no flags, no microphones, no memorized scripts, no canned jokes, no notes
• An engaging, knowledgeable and licensed CityRover guide

Tour Highlights:

• Explore the one-of-a-kind Grand Central Terminal and learn about its vaulted Milky Way ceiling, the Whispering Gallery, and its dramatic ups and downs over the last century
• Discover the flagship NY Public Library, a world-renowned research library and one of the most beautiful buildings in America. Learn about its priceless possessions and find out why it was dubbed the “People’s Palace”
• Learn about the evolution of Times Square and Bryant Park and the interesting (and sometimes sordid) pasts of both famous places
• Enjoy an eye-opening tour of Rockefeller Center, with its spectacular Art-Deco artwork, unique history, and famous sites and sculptures, including 30 Rock, the Plaza, Prometheus and Atlas
• And in between all the sights, sounds, and interesting tidbits, get better acquainted with some of the most powerful and iconic names in American history, including Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and Chrysler
Inside Grand Central Terminal

Tour stops on this scenic and informative tour include but are not limited to such famous landmarks and sites as:

  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Chrysler Building
  • New York Public Library
  • Bryant Park
  • Times Square
  • Rockefeller Center
Rodney at Rockefeller Center during Landmark Explorer tour

” Most visitors can’t decipher the incredible Art Deco public artwork at Rockefeller Center.  Leave it to Rodney.”

Book Your Tour
Tour type: Public Tour

English Channel at Rockefeller Center

Recent Reviews For This Tour:

“So interesting! Can’t wait to come back to NYC and book another tour!” Reviewed July 21, 2014 on TripAdvisor

“Saw this rated very high on Trip Advisor and my husband and I wanted something different to do in NYC. We saw the Landmark Tour hosted by Rodney. So informative! There didn’t seem to be a question asked that Rodney did not know the answer too. Great pace. My husband and I came away learning so much about NYC. Worth every penny!”

“Outstanding – a cut above other tour companies” Reviewed July 4, 2014 on TripAdvisor

“In addition [to the Brooklyn Bridge Tour], I took the Landmark Explorer tour with Rodney…It was equally outstanding.  Rodney was terrific and also had such a friendly rapport. We really felt transported during the tour….I think one of his best attributes is his storytelling. He is a wealth of information and is a true intellectual – not to mention he’s got some quick wit! The tour was a good length, the buildings stunning, and the history behind them engrossing. I will definitely be booking future tours with CityRover.”

“Great introduction to a great city” Reviewed April 14, 2014 on TripAdvisor

“We booked the Landmark Explorer tour at the start of our 3 day short break to New York – family of 6 with 4 teenager/young adults. We wanted to get a feel for midtown Manhattan with more than just photo opportunities and that was what Rodney delivered. We learnt a lot about the history and architecture of the great buildings – Chrysler, Rockefeller, Grand Central, City Library etc as well as more quirky facts and details that you only get from someone who really knows and loves their subject. The tour was well-paced and with several “extras” that would be spoilers if I told you! A great start to what was a great holiday.”

Book Your Tour
Tour type: Public Tour
Meet Leo Patience and Fortitude

Meet Leos Patience and Fortitude in front of the NYPL

Additional Info:

How strenuous is this walk? This walk is not strenuous, as it covers less than 2 miles (3.2k) on foot in about 3 hours.  We proceed at a moderate pace on flat terrain.

What About Kids? Our public tours may not be appropriate for young children, as they involve a lot of walking and cover topics geared to adults.  Further, some of our tours reference adult content some parents may deem inappropriate for children.  On this particular tour, references may be made to prostitution and drugs.   That said, there are 2 “child” tickets available for each public tour for children aged 12 and under.

Meeting Point: Detailed meeting point instructions will be emailed to you once your reservation has been processed.  Please note that the tour usually ends near Rockefeller Center, in case you were planning on going to the Top of the Rock.

Are gratuities included? Guide gratuities are not included in the tour price, so if you enjoy your tour, tips are very much appreciated.

Parting Words:

We visit several landmark buildings on this tour, and one of them — Grand Central Terminal — just turned 100!  It is without question one of the most beautiful and important buildings in New York City (some might even say, the most).  And we, as New Yorkers and tour guides, are truly lucky to be able to visit this building often and admire its architectural splendor and civic importance.  It is likely that a sizable percentage of the millions of the commuters who pass through the Terminal each week don’t bother to slow down and look around, as they rush from their train track to the exit en route to the office and reverse their path for the evening commute back to the suburbs.  However, anyone who is a student of NY history and an admirer of great architecture knows not to take its existence and current condition for granted.

When Grand Central Terminal opened in February of 1913, it was hailed as the “Greatest Railroad Terminal in the World” and the “Gateway to America.”  And this wasn’t hyperbole.  In the days before jet planes and interstate highways, people relied on rail service to get around this vast country.  And for hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of immigrant families passing the daily inspections at Ellis Island, Grand Central Terminal (and the Depot before it) was one of the first sights in the New World, as they boarded a train to Chicago or Buffalo or St. Louis, or anywhere else where a relative or a job awaited them.

Grand Central Terminal was not only a critical link to the rest of America when it opened a century ago, it was also a symbol of New York’s status as the largest and most important city in America (and the second largest in the world, behind London [which it would overtake by 1925]).  The monumental Beaux Arts stone exterior and the equally impressive Main Concourse, with its 125-foot domed ceiling, reflected the “City Beautiful” movement, where important buildings were designed to edify and motivate the city’s inhabitants.

Fast forward half a century.  People are now flying and driving to get around the country and many are moving out of large cities in favor of model suburbs and cookie-cutter homes.  Penn Station, Grand Central’s cross-town rival, is in the process of being demolished.  Grand Central is the next target, being pitched to the highest bidder by a struggling railroad corporation desperate to make a buck and willing to see its once-splendid Terminal torn down in the name of profit and “urban renewal”.

Historians, architecture lovers, and other civic-minded New Yorkers launch an offensive to save Grand Central.  Jackie Kennedy Onassis is recruited and agrees to lend her high-profile name to the fight.  The ensuing battle to save the Terminal drags on for more than a decade.  In 1975, Jackie O. writes to then-mayor, Abe Beame: “Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children?  If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?”

As you may have guessed, this story has a happy ending.  And we hope you will join us on this walking tour of Midtown to hear it and to see the hundred-year-young Grand Central Terminal, restored to its original magnificence and role as one of the most important and beautiful civic monuments in New York City.

Morning Light Flooding Grand Central Terminal's Main ConcourseThe Main Concourse and the Milky Way Ceiling

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