Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saturday Special - An Interview with Daryl Reilly of NYC Subway Art Tours

Many beautiful works of art in New York City are located underground in the subway stations. Darryl Reilly (DR)  has been leading NYC Subway Art Tours since 2011.



When did you start giving tours?

DR: In the 1990's a friend was working for Gray Line.  I was looking for a job and though his encouragement I got hired as a double decker tour guide.  I did that for three and a half years.


Do you give any other tours, and where did you get the idea for a subway art tour?

DR: I work for a travel company and for a number of years have conducted their Statue of Liberty Tour.  I meet disparate groups of people in the Times Square area and take them by subway downtown.  After sight seeing in the area, I take them on the ferry to Liberty Island. While doing this, I began noticing the artworks from the windows of the subway train and would point them out to the groups for fun.  Then, I researched why they were there and what they signified.  That led me to create the NYC Subway Art Tour.


Do you know how many subway stations have beautiful art work?

DR: Presently there are about 260.


Which is you favorite and why?

DR: Memories of 23rd Street by Keith Goddard.  This is a collection of 60 mosaics that depict the hats of celebrities from the era of the 1880's to the 1920's.  These people performed, visited or lived in the area of Madison Square.  There's a joyous feeling on being reminding about the lives of such great figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum, Isadora Duncan and Oscar Wilde, to name a few of those represented.  


Is the tour always exactly the same or does it ever vary?

DR: It is essentially the same basic route in order to present what I feel are the most outstanding and interesting stations in an under three-hour time frame.  


Is there something else you want to do besides be a tour guide?

DR: Throughout my time as a tour guide, I have continued to pursue acting and have primarily performed in plays.  In the last three years as a theater critic, I have reviewed about three hundred productions for the website Theaterscene.net.


What is the best thing about being a tour guide?

DR: The independence and self-expression while conducting tours.  The physical activeness of being outside and moving around.  Meeting so many interesting people and talking with them.


What is the worst thing about being a tour guide?

DR: There are the financial fluctuations.  There are seasonal lulls when there are less people around to take tours.  Economic and natural conditions can take a toll on the amount of visitors to New York City.


What advise would you give to someone who wants to be a tour guide?

DR: To get a NYC sightseeing license and start out at one of the double decker bus companies. There, they would learn how to organize factual and historical material into condensed commentary and to experience what it is like to deal with large groups of diverse people and to develop the skills needed to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Tours do not always go smoothly and one sometimes has to be able to make quick decisions in order to fulfill what the tour is supposed to be.


We thank Darryl for taking the time to speak with us. For more about NYC Subway Tour's see our posts:





Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.

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