Get to Know NYC Tour Guide Heather Arns

Heather Arns is a sociology major, but decided to start her own guiding company after she discovered how much she loved showing people around her city — from Brooklyn to SOHO. Now a licensed NYC tour guide, she specializes in tours of the High Line, but tailors her private tours to meet the needs of her clients. Her favourite part? Seeing people’s faces light up when they first see the Brooklyn Bridge or Empire State Building.
How did you become an NYC tour guide?

When I graduated college in 2008 I was a sociology major and wasn’t really keen on any of the jobs in my profession. So I moved to Kearny and started working on the double-decker buses and then on the water taxi. They offered me a job in the office and I said I didn’t want that, I wanted to work on the water. Then I met (my friend) Nicole and she put my website together and from there I started private guiding.

Why did you start your own company, Heather Highline?

When I finally (started) my private guiding, I thought, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I just get really excited showing people for the first time the Brooklyn Bridge.

What types of tours do you offer?

I can tour from Carlaw to Brooklyn, from pop culture to Broadway. My highlight is the High Line [a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, which stretches 22 blocks].

What does a typical day look like for you?

(Clients) usually call and give me a few ideas — if they want to see Central Park and a museum, I think of the best way to incorporate that. If they want to see celebrities, I’d take them where they might see celebrities. If they want to see architecture I’ll take them to Wall Street around Trinity Church. My goal is to show them the best of New York — I’m not watching my clock.

What’s the best part of your job?

Experiencing the places with them and seeing their faces light up.

Any odd or bizarre experiences?

Not really bizarre, but I once got some “escort service” questions and I was like, this is getting weird. I had to shut that down.

How did you educate yourself about New York’s various neighbourhoods?

When I first started, I had scripts that looked like Bibles and learned that information. Now the information that’s important has fermented, like a good beer. … I’ve toured with other guides, so you learn different perspectives, different stories, different angles of that story.

Do you have a favourite tour that you offer?

I like the High Line and the Village/SOHO area, but I will definitely go anywhere.

Why hire a guide to see New York?

It’s not so much that you can’t find things, it’s more my approach to things. For example, do you like standing in lines? Nobody does. There are two places I can take you that have exactly the same vantage point of the Empire State Building (and one of them doesn’t require standing in line). I wear my badge, I go right in and skip the line.

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