See reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. As mentioned in Frommer's NYC, the Michelin Green Guide, & Rough Guide to NYC.
"Mr. Oder has an encyclopedic knowledge of the borough..."
--Wall Street Journal, 11/17/07
Brooklyn specialist Norman Oder has designed these tours--mainly walking and public transit, though vehicles can work--to be wider-ranging and faster-paced than most.
The tours are geared to energetic, independent-minded people, including student groups and delegations, who seek more than just the tourist basics.
The goal: neither a seminar in architectural history nor a drive-by, but an effort to understand the landscape in multiple ways: historical, cultural, retail, residential, political. Clues help us decipher the block, neighborhood, borough, and city. And, of course, we snack, see art, and otherwise explore.
The tours rely mainly on foot and public transit, though variations using vehicles are available, as are custom tours. All tours are led by Norman Oder. Scheduled public tours are infrequent, but listed here. This page on Brooklyn maps should be helpful.
Next public tours: May 3, May 9.
(Above left, a view of one of the city's best blocks: South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene. At right, a view of the Pratt campus and its sculpture garden.)
Walking Brooklyn, discovering Brooklyn
Brooklyn would be the nation's fourth-largest city if it were independent. On these tours, you learn why Brooklyn was (and remains) important, learn about its heyday and decline, explore its fascinating and uneven recovery, and witness its diversity.
Neighborhood tours allow participants to learn not merely about the built environment they see but also the forces behind it. Tours are experiences, and the research is clear: people value experiences more than stuff.
Sometimes it's seeing a bridal party at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Visiting a stoop sale with homemade cupcakes. Viewing the Manhattan skyline from various Brooklyn outposts. An impromptu visit to The Dinner Party. Checking out the sculpture garden at Pratt. Spending five hours traversing a set of neighborhoods, seeing things change block by block.
Encountering an art gallery tricked out to be a fake real estate agency spurred by a controversial rezoning. Ending a tour having earned a healthy appetite for the food and drink that awaits. Taking the new East River Ferry to skip among waterfront neighborhoods.
The borough is vast. Do recognize that "Brooklyn" has become media shorthand for a few highly-publicized neighborhoods--including several of those in my tour repertoire. See this essay about Brooklyn's real demographics, and this essay regarding how the Brooklyn "brand" has evolved.
Tours of Brooklyn on foot, using public transit, and by vehicle
Private versions of listed tours are available, as are custom orientation tours for newcomers and re-connection tours for ex-Brooklynites. Private tours include detailed, personalized advice, when appropriate.
Public tours are scheduled infrequently, on weekends. Private tours should be available on most days, though it's good to reserve ahead of time, especially in busier months. See details of tours by location at left and see guidance on Private Tours.
(At right, the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza. Below, a street corner in Bushwick, the home of spectacular street art.)