Tour-tle Power

Here at Custom NYC Tours, my specialty is, of course, custom tours. Many tour guides have a niche specialty in their realm of NYC tourism— food tours, gangster/crime tours, Broadway tours, etc. I certainly have my own NYC passions, but my real specialty is a little bit of everything. Name me a topic or theme, and I promise you I can craft you an amazing custom tour out of it. I sincerely believe that is not something most NYC guides can do, and my goal has always been to provide people with unique New York experiences.

I’ve gotten some great custom tour requests in the past— helping people trace their family’s ancestry & heritage in Brooklyn, TV & movie site requests, & more— but I got my favorite request so far last month. I was asked to create a tour themed around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as the customer’s two children were huge fans. This would be a fun family tour. My first instinct was to think of the filming locations for the original 1990 live-action TMNT film, but since that came 20+ years before the kids were even born, I guessed correctly they hadn’t seen it (my own nephews love the current cartoon series, and I knew that’s the current way most know that universe). Since-- don't tell the kids, shhh-- the Turtles don't actually exist, I decided to approach the tour as "the New York City that the world of TMNT inhabits". So more of that old-school New York.

The goal was to make the tour as enjoyable for the adults, as well as the kids.

The tour began in Tribeca by the Ghostbusters Firehouse (always a fun destination) to discuss historic old New York, and how it is represented in pop culture. This, not Times Square or Hudson Yards, is the type of New York we see in TMNT. Beautiful old cast-iron buildings, smokey streets, windy alleys. We then headed toward Chinatown, via Cortlandt Alley, NYC's most filmed & photogenic alleyway. Now the TMNT are supposed to be of Japanese origin, but there is no Japanese neighborhood like this in NYC, so Chinatown did the trick, and the adults loved the neighborhood. Our main stretch was Mott St where we stopped at a martial arts store that sells authentic ninja gear (costumes, swords, nunchucks, etc). Kids loved that. Then, we headed to historic Doyers St (aka: "the bloody angle") and talked about the old clans and gangs of Chinatown and that bloody history, as well as the related history of the Five Points. From there, it was a short walk down to the scenic Civic Center. Our final stop: the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway station, to take the 6 train loop through the old, decommissioned 1904 City Hall station (in the second movie and other iterations, they depict their lair as being in that station). Everyone loved that. Then we wrapped up at a nearby pizza place as the Turtles, living every child’s fantasy, subside on a diet of entirely pizza.

This was a wonderful tour on a lovely Spring evening, creating a unique experience for my Canadian visitors, and was the type of experience that made me want to be a professional guide in the first place.

Looking for a similar experience? Contact me today to begin planning your own custom tour!

This ad was part of a recent initiative by the NYC tourism bureau to encourage family tourism into New York. The Turtles were chosen as the official ambassadors of this campaign which featured numerous ads around the region.

This ad was part of a recent initiative by the NYC tourism bureau to encourage family tourism into New York. The Turtles were chosen as the official ambassadors of this campaign which featured numerous ads around the region.

Space Invader in NYC: A Guide

Most street art fans are familiar with the work of French artist Invader. Taking his name from an early arcade game (and his style from those early 8-bit graphics), Invader began a global project in 1998 called Space Invaders, affixing tile mosaics to the sides of buildings. Today, his work can be found in large cities in dozens of major countries. He is one of the world's most famous (and still anonymous) street artists.

Invader has visited NYC several times and left behind numerous installations. Many, as happens often, have been removed, vandalized, or stolen. My aim is to create a list of all remaining pieces in NYC (as of 2018) that I have personally verified. If I am missing any, or if any are gone since I last saw them, please comment below!

Manhattan:

  1. Lower East Side: On Ludlow St, between E. Houston & Stanton, look across from the Hotel Indigo, for a classic Invader

  2. Lower East Side: Also on Ludlow, between Delancey & Broome, look up on the east side of the street for a crowned Invader.

  3. Lower East Side: On Broome St, between Allen & Eldridge, look above the pizza shop awning for Leonardo of the TMNT.

  4. Lower East Side: On Bowery, between Broome & Delancey, look up on the east side of the street for Michelangelo of the TMNT.

  5. Lower East Side: On the intersection of Kenmare & Mott, look above the doorway for a spray-can piece.

  6. Lower East Side: On Mulberry St, between Grand & Hester, look up on the east side of the street for superhero character.

  7. Lower East Side: On Bowery, between E. Houston & Stanton, look up on the east side of the street for a drinking Invader.

  8. Lower East Side: On Lafayette St, between Prince & Spring, look up on the east side of the street for a flowery Invader.

  9. Lower East Side: On Orchard St, between Stanton & Rivington, look up on the west side of the street for a soda can.

  10. Lower East Side: On Bowery, between Hester & Canal, look up on the fire escapes on the west side of the street, for a strip of Invaders.

  11. Chinatown: On Division & Orchard, look up on the west corner, for Raphael of the TMNT.

  12. Chinatown: On Canal St, btwn Rutgers & Ludlow, look up on the south side of the street for a classic Invader.

  13. East Village: On Avenue A, between E. 9th & E. 8th, look up on the corner for a classic Invader.

  14. East Village: On St Marks Place, look above Crooked Tree for a mosaic of Lou Reed.

  15. East Village: On Avenue A & E. 3rd, look up on the northeast corner for a classic Invader.

  16. East Village: On Bowery & Great Jones St, look up on the southwest corner for a beat-up Invader.

  17. East Village: On Houston & Bowery (to the left of the Bowery Mural), look up for a colorful Invader.

  18. West Village: On 6th Ave & Waverly Place, look above the diner for a burger-chomping Invader.

  19. West Village: On Minetta & Bleecker, look up above the cafe for two classic Invaders

  20. Chelsea: On W. 14th St, between 8th & 9th Aves, look up on the south side of the street for a large Big Apple Invader.

  21. Chelsea: On W. 22nd St, btwn 10th & 11th, look on the south side of the street for a Pac Man ghost-style Invader.

  22. Chelsea: On W. 38th St, btwn 10th & 9th Aves, look on the north side of the street for a red Invader with mirror eyes.

  23. Meatpacking District: On Washington St, between E. 13th & Little W. 12th, look up on the west side, under the Standard hotel, for Buster Bunny

  24. Meatpacking District: On 10th Ave & W. 17th St, look above Artichoke Pizza for Donatello of the TMNT.

  25. Tribeca: On Thompson St, between Broome & Watts, look up, on the west side of the building, for a rainbow Invader.

  26. Hudson Square: At Pier 40, look on the south end of the building for a classic Invader.

  27. Hudson Square: On Varick St, between Downing & Clarkson, look up on the west side of the street for a classic Invader.

  28. Upper East Side: On E 61st St, between 2nd & 3rd Aves, look up above a doorway on the south side of the street, for a key-holding Invader

  29. Upper East Side: On 2nd Ave, between E. 94th & E. 95th, look up on the west side of the street for a flowery Invader.

  30. Williamsburg Bridge: On the pedestrian path of this bridge, closer to Manhattan, just before the FDR Drive, look to the right on the tower. On the arch, there is a small Invader facing west.

Brooklyn:

  1. Bushwick: On Troutman St, between Wyckoff & Irving, keeping looking up on the west side of the street for a tribute to Cost & ENX.

  2. Bushwick: On Gardner St, between Johnson Ave & Randolph St, look up on the west side of the street for Joey Ramone.

  3. Williamsburg: On Bedford Ave, by S 5th St, look up on the NE corner for a beat-up orange Invader.

  4. Williamsburg: On the SE corner of Metropolitan & Wythe, look up for a tribute to NYC graffiti legends Rev & Cost.

  5. South Williamsburg: At Broadway, between Keap & Rodney Sts, look above KidSuper for a classic Invader.

  6. Greenpoint: At the corner of Nassau & Kingsland, look above Vinnie's Pizzeria for pizza-munching Invader.

  7. Bed-Stuy: On St. Johns Place, between Utica & Rochester, look up on the south side of the street for a speeding Invader.

Any questions? Please comment below!

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