3 Columbia Alumni Tour Guides to Show You New York City

illustration of Manhattan skyline


For witty walking tours

“Cicerone” is a term for a learned guide who explains matters of historic or artistic interest, but Cicerone Travel, founded and directed by Jon Goldstein ’03CC, also boasts expertise in the “funniest, quirkiest, most absurd anecdotes throughout history.” The Brooklyn-based company offers local tours such as “Jewish Lower East Side” and “Colonial and Revolutionary America.” 


For a jamming good time

As a guide with Big Apple Jazz Tours, self-proclaimed jazz diva Amanda Humes ’99GS leads immersive tours of Harlem’s legendary music scene. The company’s signature Harlem Juke Joint Tour takes small groups to legendary venues like Minton’s Playhouse (known as the birthplace of bebop), as well as former speakeasies and vibrant new haunts. Guests are encouraged to meet the artists and can, if musically inclined, join in on a jam. 


For getting off the beaten path

Michelle Young ’12GSAPP, who teaches urban studies at Columbia, began Untapped New York as an online guide to the city’s hidden gems and historical curiosities, from abandoned subway stations to famous filming locations to under-the-radar restaurants. The company also offers guided walking tours to sites like Fifth Avenue’s Gilded Age mansions and the remnants of “gritty old Times Square.” 


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2024 print edition of Columbia Magazine with the title "The Columbian's Guide to NYC."