Known today for popular restaurants, shops and tourism, the Manhattan neighborhoods of SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown boast some of New York City’s richest history. Take a 2-hour walking tour with an expert local guide to discover hidden gems, 19th-century architecture, historical churches, and several locations of the mob and gang violence that plagued these areas of Lower Manhattan for decades. Learn about the hardships that early immigrants faced and how the neighborhoods became what they are today.
Meet your tour guide and group on Spring Street in SoHo to begin your on-foot exploration of three of Lower Manhattan’s most interesting neighborhoods, which have been both gritty and glamorous throughout the years. They are also home to excellent food, and depending on availability on the day of your tour, you may samples some of the local ethnic cuisine. Following your guide — a local with boundless knowledge of Manhattan’s history, culture and eccentricities — head toward Greene Street, the site of the Manhattan Well Murder, the first recorded homicide case in New York City. Most of SoHo is part of the SoHo – Cast Iron Historic District, a US National Historic Landmark, known for its concentration of cast-iron architectural detailing on its many 19th-century buildings. As you admire these structures and learn about the importance of them from your guide, keep your eyes peeled for celebrities — fashionable SoHo with its many designer boutiques is a favorite ‘hood for movie stars and supermodels. Make your way toward Little Italy, the heart of which is Mulberry Street. Hear stories from your guide about mob bosses like John Gotti, gang violence, the struggles Italian immigrants faced when they first arrived in this neighborhood, and how much of the ethnic identity of Little Italy has faded over the years. Continue a few blocks south to reach Chinatown, one of the oldest and largest concentrations of Chinese people outside Asia. As you take in the colorful busyness of the streets lined with fish markets, produce stands, gift stores and small restaurants, learn about the not-so-pretty history of the neighborhood from your guide. Arrive at the site of the old Five Points, a former intersection and slum district that was home to crime and disease in the 1800s. The movie Gangs of New York was set in this location, which is now adjacent to Columbus Park, where your 2-hour tour ends.