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“The Thinking Persons' Tour Guide”

New York Like A Native
Ranked #22 of 73 Tours in Brooklyn
Type: City Tours, Tours
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Attraction details
Owner description: Lively, wide-ranging walking (& vehicle) tours of numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods (plus the Lower East Side in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens), touching on culture, history, architecture, landscape, and urban planning. Personal service. Veteran guide offering tours since 2000. Brooklyn overviews and custom tours also available.
Reviewed June 4, 2016

On Friday morning of the long Memorial Day weekend I, along with 5 family members, met "NY Like A Native" guide Norman Oder outside a coffee shop on Nostrand Ave, across from the old Girls High School - deep in the heart of the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. For the next 2 1/2 hours Norman led us on a walking tour of a slice of Bed Stuy where my Father had grown up back in the late 1920's, through the mid 1950's. In many respects this was a memorial tour, prompted by my Father's passing a few months ago out in California. Over his entire lifetime my Dad had regaled his family members of what it was like growing up in Bed Stuy as a young man. Now, back in NYC for my son's wedding later that weekend, it seemed perfectly timed for this group of urbane Los Angelenos and San Franciscans to make a sort of "pilgrimage" to my Dad's heritage.

This was a customized tour that I had arranged with Norman, and Norman did not disappoint. He was incredibly well prepared, and was quick with a mixture of historical, demographic, cultural, social, architectural, and economic information to engage all of us (ages ranging from 13 to 60). I felt as though I had been transported into a college classroom experience.

Norman's intense preparation shined through as we stood outside the storefront where my Dad first lived on Gates Avenue in the 1920's and 30's, and he shared with us the transaction history of the building up to the present, beginning in 1900 when the storefront building was first constructed (drawn from building/tax records). Other highlights included a walk through the local park - previously named Tompkins Park, but renamed Herbert Von King Park in the 1970's, Boys High, and walking both lush tree-lined and barren streets of the neighborhood, which is in the early stages of some serious gentrification. We experienced some interesting contrasts in walking a block shared by a liquor store designed like a fortress replete with bullet proof glass surrounding the register, next door to a hipster organic coffee shop.

Norman ran our tour efficiently, and was as knowledgable as what you'd expect from a College professor. He also had the good sense in ending our tour to mix in a walk through the Pratt Institute's sculpture garden in bucolic Clinton Hill, before depositing us at a great pizza joint.

Thank masherman211
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYLikeANative, Owner at New York Like A Native, responded to this reviewResponded June 5, 2016

Thanks for your thoughtful review. Bed-Stuy is a huge and complicated neighborhood, and my typical "overview" tour only overlaps partly with the route we did.

So I appreciate being pushed to adjust the route and weave things together a bit differently (and rely on some of the Brooklyn books in my growing collection).

Norman Oder
New York Like A Native

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Reviewed February 19, 2016

Norman is the first guide i enjoyed thoroughly. Most of the time, i get bored with guides because they repeat what you can find in a guide book . Not him. He is fast paced and interesting every step of the way. The information covers the historical, architectural , political of williamsburg as well as the today's life of the neighborhood. For the foodies, let us not forget stops for goodies from pastries to chocolates to delightful coffee or the most delicious ice cream. This was a real treat. all of us enjoyed this tour a lot.

Is this tour for family with young children? i am sure Norman can adapt to the crowd and the kids will really like the goodies. but It seems more interesting for teens and adult

1  Thank lauremm m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYLikeANative, Owner at New York Like A Native, responded to this reviewResponded February 20, 2016

Thanks so much for your review, Laure. I appreciate it that your group was eager to and energetic enough for an extended tour of Williamsburg--we spent nearly 5.5 hours, including lunch, and we saw a lot, but still not everything.

As I said, my typical 2.5-hour tour of Williamsburg is a strong introduction, but it's a large and complicated enough place--with several distinct sectors--to make a longer tour worthwhile.

Hope to see you again!

Norman Oder
New York Like A Native

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2016

Norman took us on a private tour of Bushwick. He knows the neighborhood, but it is not one of his most frequently-requested tours. He had planned a thoughtful route in advance, ensured we had a good meal to start with (excellent recommendation), and did everything we asked for the tour (my wife had wanted to see street art). He really loves New York, and Brooklyn in particular, and his tours benefit from his perspective as someone who has lived here for some time -- so he has lived some of the recent history. Well worth it!

Thank Jim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 26, 2015

I took Norman Oder's "Victorian Flatbush" tour over the weekend. He really is an expert guide. He has a great way of giving you just the right amount of detail and always makes the context crystal clear (historical, geographic, economic)--as well as keeping it entertaining. A total pro. Highly recommended.

Thank Edward F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 13, 2015

I am a university professor who recently hired Norman Oder (New York Like a Native) to lead college students on two walking tours—one through the Lower East Side and another in Brooklyn. I found Norman to be incredibly knowledgeable, dynamic, and engaging. So did my students! Norman showed us the hidden dimensions of each neighborhood’s present and its past. He worked with me to customize both tours. Indeed, Norman went out of his way to do research in advance of our tours. Simply put, if you want to learn more about Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn, you cannot do better than New York like a Native!

1  Thank nicolekensington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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