My folks and I took two tours when we visited New York City in 1988. One was the Gray Line bus tour, and the other was the Circle Tour. Bus tours are all very nice, but I much prefer walking. When I made the list of things I wanted to do on our 2015 trip, the Circle Tour was mandatory.
The Best of NYC tour, which circles the entire island of Manhattan, starts out at Pier 83. The boat heads south along the Hudson River and then goes into New York Harbor, where it circles around Liberty and Ellis Islands. The tour guide also pointed out the Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal, where many of the Ellis Island immigrants would catch their trains to other parts of the country. My own great-grandmother was joining her husband in the Chicago area upon her arrival in the United States, so perhaps she and my grandfather took a train from that station after they arrived in the United States.
The tour goes along the southern edge of Manhattan, allowing the passengers to take photos of the skyline of Manhattan and then up the East River. The tour guide pointed out the places where new construction was going up as we went around the island, including new condominiums in Queens and Brooklyn. In fact, the tour guide on this tour talked a lot about real estate. He talked about the cost of condominiums on Manhattan and pointed out the unfortunately unattractive 432 Park Avenue, among other things.
The tour then goes west on the Harlem River, around Inwood Hill Park, and then back down the Hudson. Along the way, the tour goes under eight bridges and over three tunnels. And, yes, you are aware of the tunnels. The tour guide pointed out the air exchanges for the tunnels as we went by.
I thought the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant was particuarly interesting. The building almost looks Roman, with arches along the length of the concrete building. The top of the building is the 28-acre Riverbank State Park, with a swimming pool, a skating rink, a theater, and a restaurant. There is also an “athletic complex” and an assortment of other types of sporting fields, including tennis and basketball courts, a softball field, a running track, paddleball courts, and a football field. As you may have discovered (or may still discover) I love parks. And I found the places that New Yorkers manage to put parkland, particularly this one, to be fascinating.
The Circle Line Tour boats are wheelchair accessible, though the restrooms are not. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and the outdoor seating has both covered and uncovered areas. I have a slight tendency towards motion sickness, particularly on boats, so the outdoor seating is a real plus for me.