Until the day you can have a city downloaded into your brain by William Gibson, the best way to get to know one is to walk it. Walk city streets in search of William Gibson with today's Groupon: for $10, you get one of four Rejuvenating Queens Walking Tours with guide Jack Eichenbaum of Geography of NYC (a $20 value).
Each 2.5- to three-hour tour, lead by urban geologist and lifelong NYC observer Jack Eichenbaum, explores different areas of Queens. Neighborhoods are changing throughout the borough because of the re-zoning renaissance and influx of new residents, and Jack's tours explain the history and highlights of the areas and speculate on future developments. Choose one of the following four tours and dates:
Long Island City to Astoria on Saturday, September 18, at 10 a.m. The first option, which begins at the corner of 21st Street and 41st Avenue (21st Street–Queensbridge station on the F train), explores the East River shore between the Queensboro and RFK (Triborough) bridges, rambling through the remnants of old Astoria on the way to its current center. Sights include Manhattan's Upper East Side from three parks, a former piano factory, a massive power plant, the Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum, antebellum mansions, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, and Astoria's delightful restaurant rows.
Long Island City to Greenpoint on Sunday, September 26, at 10 a.m. The second option begins at the same point as the first, trekking south toward Brooklyn along the Hunters Point waterfront. Highlights include current redevelopment in the shadow of Midtown, where new commercial, artistic, and residential spaces are springing up and competing with the older industrial landscape like centipedes in a basketball court. Also included are the piers of Gantry Park and the Pulaski Bridge, which leads to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Sunnyside to Jackson Heights on Saturday, October 2, at 10 a.m. This tour, which meets under the Sunnyside sign on the south side of the 46th Street station on the 7 train, focuses on the early 20th-century urban architecture that transformed residential zones in Western Queens. Anchored by Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District, the route includes Phipps Garden, Mathews Flats, and Metropolitan Life apartments and industrial buildings from the beginning days of truck shipping and the final days of dogsled shipping.
Sunnyside to Jackson Heights on Sunday, October 17, at 10 a.m. The flip side to the residential tour coin, this tour begins at the Sunnyside sign (see above) and follows the commercial footsteps of immigrants following the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Rental neighborhoods along the 7 train were transformed into ethnically diverse business zones, with nuclei of Irish, Mexican, South American, South Asian, Filipino, and Thai cultures. Highlights include the ever-shifting restaurant scene.