Volume 17 • Issue 22 | October 22 - 28, 2004

Celebrity tour guides just a call away

The World Trade Center site has certainly attracted more attention to Lower Manhattan in the last three years, but as a new cell phone walking tour explains, the area has many more stories to tell. Developed by Candide Media Works and sponsored by The Alliance for Downtown New York, The Rise of New York consists of sixteen stops and narration by actress Sigourney Weaver. Users pay an introductory price of $5.95, and profits from the tour are donated to the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.

“We really feel like it brings people Downtown and introduces people to places they wouldn’t otherwise see,” said Valerie Lewis, vice president of marketing for Downtown Alliance. The walking tour also encourages people to spend money Downtown, helping boost the post-9/11 economy, she said.

One of the tour’s main goals is educating visitors on the significance of the World Trade Center site. The site has become one of the most popular visitor attractions in New York City, but many people have difficulty making sense of it, said Miles Kornby, an executive producer at Candide Media Works. “We wanted to help illuminate people’s experience down there and enrich it,” he said.

Downtown Alliance already has experience with area walking tours, establishing its “Wall Street Walking Tour” in 1998 and later a self-guided “Patriot Trail” tour. The Rise of New York cell phone tour takes aspects of both tours – narration from a guide and freedom to set your own pace.

To access tour narration, users simply choose a stop on the tour and dial the local tour number. Each segment lasts about two minutes. In total, the tour lasts about two hours including walking time and 40 minutes of cell phone usage. Participants have seven days to complete the tour after first accessing the audio segments.

Though the tour starts on the corner of Church St. and Fulton St., between St. Paul’s Chapel and the World Trade Center site, participants need not follow a particular route. Stops include physical landmarks such as the New York Stock Exchange, The Federal Reserve and Federal Hall, and sites conducive to reflection upon topics such as the evolution of Bowling Green, rise of skyscrapers and rebuilding efforts after 9/11.

Candide consulted experts for its tour segments. For its narratives about Federal Hall, the U.S. Customs House and Bowling Green, for example, the organizers interviewed Pulitzer Prize-Winning historian Edwin Burrows, co-author of “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.” Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani speaks about Sept. 11 at stop number 15, the corner of Church and Liberty Sts.

Lewis said Sigourney Weaver, the main narrator “has been sort of a voice for Lower Manhattan since Sept. 11.”

Weaver starred in Anne Nelson’s “The Guys,” a play written in response to Sept. 11 and the fall of the World Trade Center towers. Weaver’s husband Jim Simpson, artistic director of Downtown’s Flea Theater, directed the play. Simpson will also direct the film version of “The Guys,” and Weaver will reprise her role.

— Hemmy So

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