Telling Lies to Tourists

I spent some time in Central Park this morning and on the way in I passed a large troupe of tourists outside the Dakota. They were following around one of those tour guides who holds an umbrella up in the air so that you can follow her and they were all staring rapt attention upwards at the buildings. What she was saying though made me pause and stand nearby to try and eavesdrop on the tour for a few minutes. According to this fine lady the Dakota was originally built as a fortress to protect the city from attacks by Indians. (From the Dakota tribe perhaps?) The separation between the street and the building is there because there used to be a moat around the building and this is the only remnant of it. The rest has been filled and paved over by the streets. There also used to be a wooden drawbridge at the arched center entrance to the courtyard so that the people who lived there could get over the moat. (Though why anyone would want to live there when it was constantly under attack by Indians I’ll never know.) Is this typical? If I had been on that tour I would have been demanding my money back. The tourists didn’t seem at all taken back, they ooh’ed and ah’ed right along with the guide and when she hoisted her umbrella they followed her off towards Central Park to hear more of her lies. I was tempted to follow so that I could hear her explanations of Belvedere Castle or where ever else she was taking them. Is there a licensing test for city tourguides or can they just say any old thing that comes to mind?

3 Comments so far

  1. Berry (unregistered) on July 7th, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    You are supposed to be licensed but I doubt very many check to see if their guide is licensed before booking tours. Too bad you didn’t get her information so you could report her lying arse! Next time the agency to contact is Consumer Affairs. you have pay for a license and take a rigorous test of NYC history.

  2. Kathleen (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:02 am

    Wow. What an imagination that tour guide has. (Obviously, giving her the benefit of the doubt, but.. wow.) Those poor tourists, thinking they got good information. I bet they’ll go home and tell more people and it’ll become an urban legend!

  3. John Morris (unregistered) on July 24th, 2007 @ 11:04 pm

    The tour guide was telling the truth. The Dakota was built in the period before Manhattan had been bought from the Indians. Haven’t you ever heard of Fort Apache in the Bronx?

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