New York City walking tours highlight Queensbridge, Bronx Grand Concourse

This weekend’s walkabouts are aimed at getting people talking.

These aren’t the usual walking tours found in guidebooks.

Hundreds of people will go on dozens of unconventional walkabouts of the city’s neighborhoods this weekend, often led by folks who live and work there.

Along the way, these urban tourists and their guides will visit mini-parks, traipse through salt marshes and visit the city’s largest public housing development. It’s all in the spirit of sparking conversation as part of a global event called Jane’s Walk — named for urban theorist Jane Jacobs.

“The participants have as much to say as the host does,” said Mary Rowe, of the Municipal Art Society, which is helping to organize the event in New York City. “It becomes this remarkable exchange of ideas about neighborhoods.”

Here are five walks worth checking out this weekend in each of the five boroughs. For a full list, go here.

Preview the future National Lighthouse Museum

Take a tour of the future site of the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island. Operations for lighthouses around the country were coordinate from the site during the 1800s. “This is really a hidden location that many, many people, including Staten Islanders, don’t know about,” said Linda Dianto, executive director of the museum. Opening day of the museum is set for Aug. 7, 2014, the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act, which federalized the young country’s lighthouses.
When: Noon, May 3
Meet at: 45 Bay St., two minutes from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

The Bronx’s Main Street: Walking the Grand Concourse

Bronx-born urban planner Sam Goodman, who just happens to work for the office of the borough president, leads this tour of the Grand Concourse, which was modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
When: Noon, May 3
Meet at: Bronx Museum of the Arts, North Wing Lobby

The New Queensbridge: Exploring the largest public housing development in North America.

This tour already has some Queens residents talking even before it starts. Organizers have dismissed fears that it will focus attention unfairly on the negative reputation of the Queensbridge public housing development. “It’s local folks leading this walk and sharing these stories,” said Rowe. “They are going to have lots of discussion and lots of engagement.”
When: Noon, May 3.
Meet at: F train stop at 21s Street, Queensbridge station.

Safe Routes to Shul: A Vision Zero Bike Tour of Brooklyn Synagogues

You’ll need a bike for this one. Visit seven synagogues while discussing how street safety and Judaism interact around the religious sites. Group members are encouraged to take notes and photos, which will then be passed on to both the synagogues and city officials.
When: 3 p.m. on May 3; noon May 4.
Meet at: Grand Army Plaza under the arch.

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

This Manhattan walking tour will take guests to some of the small plazas and mini-parks tucked between buildings in East Midtown. The tour is based on the book by William H. Whyte called “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces,” which attempts to describe why urban plazas fail or succeed.
When: 9 a.m., May 4
Where to meet: The sunken plaza of the McGraw Hill Building on Sixth Avenue between 48th and 49th streets. 

Cristian Salazar