Brooklyn’s history reaches back centuries, so whether you are visiting for the first time or born and raised in the borough, there are always something intriguing to learn. From historic moments on the land we are standing on, to the importance of Brooklyn in arts and entertainment, there are many aspects of this borough’s past and its residents, that only an in-person tour can bring back to life.
One of these tours are The Heart of New York Culture, where owner Reva Cooper will use her background in promoting New York City arts such as Broadway, music, dance, film and visual arts, to revive the stories of the past. By fusing history, culture, visual highlights and personal stories of the famous figures and events in what would be America’s third largest city, if it was not part of “New York City.”
As there is so much information to be soaked up in Brooklyn, and a dozen fabulous tour companies featuring something quite unique, we interviewed Cooper to learn more about her private tours!
How did your tour business come to be?
“I became a professional licensed guide after a few years as a Big Apple Greeter – the wonderful volunteer organization providing walks for New York City visitors by native New Yorkers. I enjoyed [giving tours], and at the same time I was gradually retiring, phasing out my arts business and looking for a new passion. I took a few friends on my routes and they encouraged me to go professional – so I did!”
What are your tours all about?
“My tours cover the rich and surprising history of Brooklyn, and the unique influence it has had on the world in many ways: the famous figures that grew up there, the industrial history and innovation, the Revolutionary and Civil War connections, the great variety of architectural styles and the sheer physical beauty of many neighborhoods, as well as information about exciting happenings going on now.”
What is your favorite thing about Brooklyn?
“My favorite things about Brooklyn are the diversity and the many ways it has influenced the world. I especially love the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade, which has the extraordinary, 180-degree view of New York Harbor. Guests are always amazed by how much there is to see, and tell me the tours alter their whole perception of the city, because they realize that there’s a big world outside Manhattan.”
Do you have a good story from one of your tours?
“I do! On one of my Brownstone Tours, the group and I kept having unexpected experiences: We arrived at the Marquis de Lafayette Memorial in Prospect Park, and it turned out to be its 100th anniversary, and a lot of dignitaries were there, from France and the US, making speeches and inviting us to join them. Then, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade we encountered Spike Lee shooting a movie. And then, on the streets on Brooklyn Heights, one of the guests in my group (who was from another state) started talking about how she had a nephew living there – and at that moment he jogged by! It was all truly funny and joyous.”
Do you have a fun fact about Brooklyn that you think we should know?
“There are many fun facts about Brooklyn – for one thing, not everyone wanted to join Manhattan when the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens did so in 1898 – which was called The Great Consolidation, to form New York City as we know it. There was a referendum – and Brooklyn had over a million residents at that time – which only passed by 277 votes. So, Brooklyn almost stayed an independent city, and a lot of residents called The Great Consolidation (and some still do) ‘The Great Mistake’.”
How can someone book a tour with you?
“It’s easy: just email me, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 718-965-0486, and we’ll work the whole thing out.”