WINTER SALE! All Private Tours are Half-Price Dec 26th thru Feb 29th!!

Return to Brooklyn! Nostalgia Tour

Every so often we are lucky enough to be hired to provide a Nostalgia Tour – a trip down memory lane for old school New Yorkers who have long since moved away. Matt recently got a chance to spend the day with a wonderful family – the Braverman / Blumenthals from San Antonio, who was returning to Brooklyn to celebrate the family matriarch’s Phyllis Braverman’s 80th birthday.

Both Phyllis and her husband – Dr Shelly Braverman grew up in Brooklyn – Shelly grew up in a couple of different apartments on Ocean Parkway in the Flatbush neighborhood (today’s Kensington) and Phyllis grew up near Mill Basin. He went to the legendary Erasmus Hall HS, she went to James Madison. They fell in love while watching movies at the recently restored Loews Kings Theatre on Flatbush Ave, and they got married at he Brooklyn Jewish Center on Eastern Parkway.

Braverman Brooklyn Jewish CEnter

Shelly and Phyllis Braverman with their family outside the Brooklyn Jewish Center

We went to all of these. However, the highlight of the tour, without any doubt, was getting inside both Shelly and Phyllis’ childhood houses! As we were staring up at Shelly’s childhood apartment home, and as Shelly was pointing out his bedroom window, the kinder-than-kind super of the building overheard us, mentioned that he lives in the ground floor apartment with the exact same layout as Shelly’s childhood home, and would we like to come inside and take a look? Would we?!? So we did. A very friendly Russian wife and daughter were more than gracious, even offering a baked savory pie when we toured their home. (We declined.)

Phyllis Braverman

Shelly and Phyllis Braverman getting a tour of her childhood home!

The other, most amazing experience was that once we arrived at Phyllis’ childhood home in Marine Park, we introduced ourselves to the gaggle of Modern Orthodox children playing on her former front porch. Once we explained that Phyllis hadn’t been here in 70+ years, once again, we were ushered inside the house by the gregarious matriarch of the family. Phyllis went room to room, pointing out where her bed was, where they listened to the radio, where her family sat around the table for dinner talking and enjoying the bounties of Brooklyn. The current occupant of the home quipped “So, not much has changed!” Laughter and tears of joy all around.

Braverman on stoop

Look at that happy couple!

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Fabulous Frida and Dia de los Muertos in the Bronx


Last Thursday night, Matt surprised his wife with a late-night date-night at the awe-inspiring New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx (Lucky lady, right?!). Featuring 250 acres of flora and fauna (leaning heavily on the flora, but lest you forget – the Bronx has two of the largest parks in NYC, and therefore is a huge bird flyover spot!) and celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the NYBG is currently enjoying an unprecedented boomtown with the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life.


The popularity of Frida Kahlo means that the Botanical Garden has already smashed their all-star exhibit Monet’s Garden of 2012. Riding this popularity, the NYBG is hosting a series of evening adventures in their garden, themed around Frida’s life, her nationality, her politics, her art, and topically enough, the just-passed Mexican celebration Dia de los Muertos.


And for the exhibit’s closing weekend, the NYBG hosted a Dia de los Muertos party. Although Matt and Jenny didn’t make it to that fest, they did attend a Frida Look Alike Contest, listened to some incredible live Mexican folk music accompanied by stilt dancers, and enjoyed the scale version of Kahlo’s legendary garden pyramid, recreated from the original at her Casa Azul home in Mexico City. Said pyramid was designed to display her extensive collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts.


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8 Must-See NYC Globes


The Unisphere

1) The Unisphere

Commemorating the beginning of the space age, this amazing 12-story structure is the largest in the world weighing over 700,000 pounds. First unveiled for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, the symbol was erected with the theme “Peace Through Understanding” in mind.

Time Warner Center Globe

2) Trump International Hotel and Tower

Nestled in Central Park West, this tower hovers over Broadway and Central Park West, and was featured in the movie Tower Heist. This 1970 tower boasts jaw-dropping views of Manhattan and its crown jewel: Central Park!

Paramount Theatre

3) Paramount Theatre

Though it has been converted into office space, this legendary landmark once held performances from the greats like Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman.

Map Room

4) Map Room

This stunning room in NYC’s public library was featured in The Day After Tomorrow. Probably because this globe is a sure eye-catcher!

Daily News Building

5) Daily News Building

This art deco landmark finished construction in 1930 and housed the New York Daily News until 1995. Referenced in early Superman episodes, the building also contains the world’s largest globe.

Atlas in Rockefeller Center

6) Atlas in Rockefeller Center

Depicting the Greek titan Atlas bearing the world in his arms, this statue was commissioned by and erected in 1937. Its art deco style allows it to match the rest of the Rockefeller Center neighborhood.

United Nations Sphere

7) Sphere Within Sphere at The United Nations

Made by Italian sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro, the structure is part of a major worldwide series.

Sphere at The World Trade Center

8) Sphere at The World Trade Center

This resilient globe survived the 9/11 terrorist attack with minimal damage. Although originally placed between the Twin Towers, it is now located in Battery Park to serve as a memorial.

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Jamaica Bay: A NYC Getaway


Jamaica Bay: Thousands fly over it every day and thousands more drive past it, but it’s rare a New Yorker actually explores the salt marshes and wildlife of Jamaica Bay. But we’re a unique brand of New Yorker!

Mark and his buddy David Grupper took the LUNYmobile, strapped that big canoe on it, and headed out to Jamaica Bay which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.


Those giant airlines screaming overhead every few minutes are a hint of what Jamaica Bay’s fate could have been if the 1878 plan to convert this bucolic patch of nature into NY’s major Seaport had been fully realized.

Much of the marsh areas had been filled in for docks, piers and for the Floyd Bennett Field: one of New York’s earliest airports and later Idlewild (now JFK Airport). However, the plans were never fully completed. In 1938, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses led the effort to maintain the area as a nature preserve.


Now, whether you’re biking through trails, canoeing through a stream or observing the wildlife, you’ll be sure to have a blast. We recommend paying a visit to historic Fort Tilden, or spending a day at Jacob Riis Park. Jamaica bay is one of three gateways that span 27,000 acres of beaches, historic forts, airports, and houses, and wildlife spread across four counties in two states and three boroughs of New York City. With millions visiting each year, isn’t it time you came through?

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Panorama Challenge 8: Q&A Recap

Thanks to all for participating in the 8th Annual Panorama Challenge.  Keep an eye out for next year’s date, we’d love to have you all back.

This year included the very first Universal Stumper: Ota Benga.  The next toughest question was about Staten Island once having an NFL team.

Your Quizmaster,

Jonathan Turer



1 This museum is famous for its bones — give its official name please.

American Museum of Natural History (must have ‘American’)

Pros: In 1906 it was also home to a live Congolese man who would later be displayed at the Bronx Zoo. What was the man’s name?

Ota Benga

2 This East Village church is where Peter Stuyvesant’s bones rest.

St Marks of the Bowery

Pros: Which Irish department store magnate’s bones were stolen from this churchyard, later ransomed and returned?

A.T. Stewart

3 When this pond was deepened in 1933 workers unearthed an Ice Age relic. It was big but it wasn’t ‘mammoth’. It was a …? (What creature did they find?)


Pros: This Queens pond used to be part of the Brooklyn water system. What is its name?

Baisley Pond

Misplaced Manhattans

4 Manhattan Avenue runs through this neighborhood, now “home” to Hannah Horvath on HBO.


Pros: The Census says 15% of this neighborhood’s residents claim what nationality?


 5 Manhattan Beach, here, had a march written for it by which brassy composer?

John Philip Sousa

Pros: LIRR President Austin Corbin opened two hotels here within three years. The Manhattan Beach Hotel in 1877 and then which hotel next? (name the other hotel)

The Oriental Hotel

 6 Manhattan College is found in this neighborhood, also home to Horace Mann


Pros: Their sports teams are named the Jaspers, a tribute to their coach who may have invented what baseball tradition? (what baseball tradition was invented by Coach Jasper?)

7th Inning Stretch


7  From 1929-31 Staten Island had a professional sports team that played against the Dodgers and Giants. Which league did the team belong to?


Pros: The team was named for its neighborhood, here. Its biggest fan *might have been* the actress who often uttered the line Awwwwchie?


 8 This park is named for a Puerto Rican ‘Pirate’ who died in a plane. His name?

Roberto Clemente

Pros: On one side is the river, the other side a road, with what Interstate route number?


9 This neighborhood is home to the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club. What’s the name of this ‘atmospheric’ area?

Ozone Park

Pros: Bergin was not actually for hunting or fishing. Instead, it’s best known as home base at the beginning of which gangster’s career? (Which gangster got his start at the club?)

John Gotti

Fun & Games

10 In 1938 Alfred Mosher Butts lived in this neighborhood. Today it’s known for pupusas, momos and papadums. What is its name?

Jackson Heights

Pros: In 1938 Butts invented Lexico, which is now known as what?


11 25 years ago, Spike Lee told a story about the hottest day of the year in this neighborhood. Name the neighborhood

Bedford Stuyvesant (or Bed-Stuy)

Pros: 113 years ago in a candy store in the same neighborhood Rose and Morris Michtom created what fuzzy fun kids’ companion?

Teddy Bear

12 In 1881, here, Puck Magazine’s typography department presented “Studies in Passions and Emotions,” quite probably debuting what common fun phenomenon? Semicolon Right Parenthesis


Pros: Puck Magazine was originally published in which language?


Moses Supposes Erroneously

13 Robert Moses thought he could build a wide highway here. Neighbors stopped him and he had to stack it, creating what pedestrian overlook?

 Promenade (or Esplanade)

Pros: Unfortunately the house at 110 Columbia Heights could not be saved. It was once home to what famous family?

Roebling (Washington and Emily, not John)

14 In 1939 Moses believed he’d build a bridge, here, but was defeated, in part, by a powerful political woman. She might have been the First Lady to stop him. Who was she?

Eleanor Roosevelt

Pros: In defeat, Moses banished which Manhattan attraction to Brooklyn?

(New York) Aquarium

15 In 1962 Moses thought he could build the LOMEX (here) but was prevented, in part, by which famous female?

Jane Jacobs

Pros: LOMEX would have connected which three river crossings?

Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Holland Tunnel


NBA All-Stars

16 Twelve time All Star Dolph Schayes played for this high school, which was named for a NY Governor, best known for a canal. (Name the high school)

DeWitt Clinton

Pros: When Schayes retired he was the NBA’s career points leader, a title now held by which Manhattan-born big man?

Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor)

17 Five time All Star Chris Mullin led this University, here, to the NCAA Final Four in 1985.

St Johns (University)

Pros: Mullin, known for his flat top haircut, grew up in this appropriately named neighborhood, previously known as New Amersfoort


18 1980 All Star World B Free went to the high school here, named for the local native tribe which gives the neighborhood its name.


Pros: World B Free shared the halls with fellow student Howard Schultz, one time Seattle SuperSonics owner and current CEO of which world-be-known company.


What’s the connection?

19 It runs from the harbor to nowhere near the ocean, which nautical street is this?

Atlantic Avenue

20 You’ll find a structure 2 1/2 miles long made of plastic, concrete and wood, here. What structure is it?


21 This bridge (Hell Gate Bridge) was built to connect the New Haven Railroad to another major system, with a station in Manhattan. Name the other railroad.

Pennsylvania RR

PROS: For three points, think about your answers and explain what they have in common

Monopoly (Properties)

What’s the Connection II, The Sequel

22 Herald Square used to be home to another massive department store complex whose name completes this skeptical phrase: Would Macy*s tell…..?


23 Many buildings, here, are owned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc, better known by what name? (Give the name of the group)

Jehovah’s Witnesses

 24 Formerly females-only, this college campus, here, has a theater named for the late Danny Kaye.

Hunter College

PROS: For three points, try to imagine yourself standing in front of these locations. As you look up at the buildings, try to envision what connects them.

Skybridges (or elevated walkways)

Unpopular Art

25 Laguardia banished it from City Hall, Anthony Weiner wanted it out of Queens. So Civic Virtue ended up here. Name this Verdant Grove where it ended up.

Green-Wood (Cemetery)

Pros: Don’t feel bad for the sculptor, his Nathan Hale statue is still at City Hall. Name the artist.

(Frederick) MacMonnies

26 Which Philip Johnson-designed building, here, was briefly home to an Andy Warhol work in 1964?

New York State Pavilion

Pros: Before it was quickly painted over, Warhol’s work depicted 13 what?

Most Wanted Men (or mugshots/criminals)

27 In 1981 a Richard Serra artwork was placed here, in front of a Foley Square building named for a Senator from New York. The senator might have preferred something more ‘convention’al. What was his name?

Jacob Javits

Pros: What was Serra’s steel sculpture called?

Tilted Arc

Peculiar parks

Please interpret the following phrases as names of NYC Parks:

28 Ordinary Overlook Park.

Plane View Park

Pros: This park owes its existence to which Federal Agency’s regulations?

FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)

29 En Francais: Compulsive cursing condition. Park.

LaTourette Park

Pros: The park is part of Staten Island’s flagship park called what:

The Greenbelt

30 Inlet of the Cheater.

Swindler Cove

Pros: The park owes its life to Bette Midler’s organization, NYRP which stands for what?

New York Restoration Project



AUDIO CLUES: Name the five ARTISTS you just heard. Get all five right for one point. (These songs were either released or hit #1 on the charts betweeen 1/1/65 and 3/6/65. )

Rolling Stones (Heart of Stone)

John Coltrane (A Love Supreme)

Petula Clark (Downtown)

The Temptations (My Girl)

Johnny Cash (Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright)


Choose which World’s Fair each attraction belongs to: 1939, 1964, BOTH or NEITHER Get all seven right for one point.

Festival of Gas: 1964

Lifesavers Parachute Jump: 1939

Perisphere: 1939

Unisphere: 1964

GM’s Futurama: Both

Port Authority Heliport: 1964

Elvis Presley in: It Happened at the World’s Fair: Neither


THE WORLD OF 1965: Get all five right for one point

What began happening all across NYC at 5:27pm November 9, 1965? BLACKOUT

Helen Gurley Brown took over at what magazine in 1965? COSMOPOLITAN

In ’65 Bhaktivedanta Swami began chanting what ubiquitous and familiar mantra in the E.Village? HARE KRISHNA

What began operations on the roof of the Pan Am Building in 1965? HELIPORT

The Vivian Beaumont Theater opened at what location in 1965? LINCOLN CENTER

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