New York City may not be the official capital of the United States, but it is certainly our cultural capital. From museums to live theater, galleries to concert halls, historical landmarks to innovative cuisine, New York has it all. Even New York's architecture – both historic and brand new (One World Trade Center) attracts visitors – rivaling Chicago in its draw. What better way to experience the Big Apple's jaw-dropping architectural landmarks than from a relaxing architecturally-themed cruise?
Classic Harbor Line offers “AIANY Around Manhattan Boat Tours,” featuring guided explanations by architects from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. On a recent, special, shortened sunset cruise (see photos below), I hopped aboard one of their elegant 1920s style yachts. I cruised along lower Manhattan for 1 ½ hours, but the standard AIANY excursion is 2 3/4 hours. This full architectural cruise experience circumnavigates all 13 ½ miles of Manhattan Island. It passes under 18 bridges along the Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers, while taking in monuments, architecture, parks and infrastructure. (See company and posted guest photos.)
Highlights, topics and themes of the AIANY tour include:
The boats themselves – both the Manhattan and Manhattan II – were constructed in New York State by Scarano Boat Building. They feature teak decks and mahogany rails and are inspired by the famous (and infamous) commuter yachts of the roaring twenties' oil barons and Wall Street tycoons.
The architect commentary is general enough for visitors yet detailed enough for the locals. As a guest, you are treated to a complimentary beer, glass of wine or champagne from the bar and light snacks as well as soda, water, tea or coffee.
The daylight-hour tour-cruise runs on select Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through January 23. It starts again for the spring on Saturday March 12, with even more days per week. The cost is $76 per person. The ships have comfortable climate-controlled, enclosed back-deck observatories and open-air outer decks, where you can take in the sunlight and enjoy a fresh breeze.