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John Semlak

Licensed Tourist Guide in New York City

About Me

My name is John Semlak.  I am a 44-year-old tour guide living in the Big Apple now for 5 years.  I’ve lived in 4 countries in my life, including 15 years in Moscow Russia and have traveled 4 continents and 40+ countries so far.  I speak Russian and conduct tours in English and Russian.

My interests include of course New York City history, travel, table-top gaming, and Russian culture.

Explore new york’s 400 YEARS of History

Before the subway, before the Empire State Building, before Yankee Stadium, before there was an old New York.  There was a burgeoning port city that attracted people from all over the world.  People such as Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the pianomaker George Steinway, the poet Edgar Allen Poe,  others. The city produced it’s own personalities such as the Presidents Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, baseball pioneer Alexander Cartwright,  and suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  It’s a city that saw the beginnings of modern journalism, baseball, and the stock-market.  It’s a city that played pivotal roles in different ways in the American Revolution and the Civil War.  Though it’s no longer the political capital, it grew to come American’s greatest city and the financial and cultural capitol of the nation.

The old New York can still be seen, though it’s easy to miss. Explore New York with a trained historian and you’ll discover its history through the cracks. You’ll see it in old buildings, often side-by-side with modern structures (or underneath them in forgotten cellars).  You’ll see it in old photographs and lithographs. You’ll see it in plaques and monuments. You see it in dusty historic maps. And you’ll see it in the city’s churches and graveyards.  On my tours you’ll experience the city’s fascinating history, its colorful stories, and its steamy intrigue.

Join me on one of several custom-designed tours: My Lincoln in New York tour, my Hamilton off-Broadway Tour, my Green-Wood Cemetery Sports History Tour, my Brooklyn Abolitionists, Athletes, and Authors Tour, and others. Want something else? Contact me and I’ll customize a tour just for you.  My tours can’t be downloaded off the internet; there’s no app for them.  You have to join me and walk the city’s history for yourself.

#Onthisday: The Celebrated Frog…

On this day on November 18th 1865, a short story by an little-known writer appeared on page 8 of the New York Saturday Press, entitled "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog". The story would later be re-titled "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". Its author...