Offbeat New York

Free Attractions and Tours - Continued

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National Museum of the American Indian
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004
Phone 212-514-3700

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it is said to be the largest collection in the world devoted to North, Central, and South American Indian cultures. Opened in October 1994, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian is in lower Manhattan at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, a truly gorgeous building on the water. Permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as public programs ó including music and dance performances, films, and symposia. Admission is free.

New York Public Library
42nd Street and Fifth Avenue

The majestic Beaux Arts building opened in 1911 with over one million books available to the public. Besides admiring the building (inside and outside), the Library offers some wonderful biblio treats. Free exhibits, concert, films and other special events in Bryant Park which has become one of midtown's best urban parks.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone 212-833-8100

A hands-on communication technology and entertainment museum for all ages. Admission to the Lab is free to be enjoyed by both adults and children. Occupying four floors and 14,000 square feet, from the very beginning visitors know this is something special. In the lobby thereís an robot who actually interacts with the children waiting to enter the Lab. Itís not until later in the visit that the secret is revealed. The robot is actually controlled by an unseen master using goggles and gloves to make the robot an extension of operatorís own body.

Visitors start at the fourth floor by logging into the computer network. The sophisticated computer system records your face and voice when you first log in (all of the logs are wiped clean every evening) and codes it on a plastic card you swipe at each of the exhibits. This enables the personalization of their displays. Walking along the history of communication bridge for example, which provides 150 years of communication and entertainment history, you may see your face on the video displays. Although all the exhibits are fun and informative, there is a particularly special experience called Shadow Garden and Sand Interactive. A very long and fancy name for playing with shadows, with a twist. Visitors stand in front of a translucent wall which displays the image of cascading nuggets. But the wall interacts with shadows cast by visitors, and the sand nuggets accumulate on visitorsí shadows, pooling on shoulders, heaping in cupped hands. Soon visitors discover that they can link shadows and strangers learn to work together to pass the sand back and forth. Thereís also movies screened in their High Definition television theater. All exhibits are wheelchair accessible and the Lab also offers American Sign Language tours. Reservations for these ASL tours are available for individual families and groups.

Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day and is free at all times. Enjoy the ride to and from Staten Island and Lower Manhattan, the visit to Staten Island, and the spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Ferry information: 718-815-BOAT.

Trinity Church
Broadway at Wall Street
Phone: 212-602-0872

Explore their museum and experience the rich history of Trinity Church. Tours take place 7 days a week at 2 pm. There is an additional tour following the 11:15 Holy Eucharist every Sunday. For groups of 5 or more to arrange your tour. Admission is free.

Tweed Courthouse
The Old New York County Courthouse, better known as Tweed Courthouse, is the legacy of Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who used the construction of the building in the mid 1800s to embezzle large sums from the budget. Boss Tweed was tried in 1873 in an unfinished courtroom in this building and was convicted and jailed. After the Tweed Ring was broken up, work stopped on the building from 1872 to 1876. Construction progressed slowly after the Tweed years, and it was not until 1881 that the building was finally completed.

In 1999, a comprehensive restoration began to return Tweed to its original grandeur and today Tweed is home to the Department of Education. The first floor features the City Hall Academy, which serves approximately 200 elementary and middle school students each day from schools throughout the City. The school offers public school children an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of New York City and its history.

Union Square Tours
On Saturdays at 2pm, take a free walking tour offered by the 14th Street-Union Square Business Improvement District including stops at New York's first film studios, opera houses, grand theaters and nickelodeons, "Ladies' Mile" and Union Square Park. Call first at 212-460-1204

Winter Garden
Enjoy concerts and dance performances under palm trees at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden a stunning, glass-enclosed shopping and business complex on Lower Manhattan's waterfront.

Socrates Sculpture Park
21-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway
Long Island City, NY 11106
Phone: 718 956-1819

Socrates Sculpture Park, a free outdoor museum located on the East River, presents exhibitions of sculpture and multimedia installations as well as a variety of community events and an outdoor summer film series with impressive Manhattan views. Open daily until sunset.

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For more information on the three city-owned buildings vist the Official New York City website:

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