You Asked, We Answer: Recent Questions from Our Official NYC Information Centers and Kiosks

by Staff

Here in the City we have five Official NYC Information Centers filled with staff and resources to help visitors get the most from their stay. Here is a selection of recent FAQs asked by visitors, along with answers.

I’ve heard that the Museum of Mathematics recently opened. Can you tell me more about it?
The Museum of Mathematics aims to dispel the notion that math is boring. It opened on December 12, 2012 (12/12/12) and is the only institution of its kind in the United States. The museum, which goes by the nickname "MoMath," features interactive exhibitions demonstrating the connections between math and such everyday subjects as music, sports and even soap bubbles. The message is that math is constantly around us, even if we're not thinking about it all the time—and, yes, that it can be exciting and fun. (One of the most intriguing hands-on exhibitions, for instance, is the opportunity to ride a tricycle with square wheels.) MoMath is open every day from 10am to 5pm and can be found on East 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, just north of Madison Square Park.

When a Broadway show is in preview, what does that mean?
A show that's in preview hasn't officially opened yet, and adjustments are still being made. It's basically a dress rehearsal. The best time to see a show in preview is as close as possible to its opening date, when, presumably, any kinks have been worked out. As this article from the New York Times points out, expect a slightly different audience than that of an officially opened show. For information on current Broadway shows, events, deals and offers, as well as to purchase tickets, visit our Broadway page.

Since the Statue of Liberty is closed due to the effects of Superstorm Sandy, what are the alternatives for viewing it?
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises from Manhattan's Pier 83 (42nd Street and the Hudson River) as well as harbor tours by Statue Cruises in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park offer cruises that approach Liberty and Ellis Islands. In fact, as of January 13, Statue Cruises will feature National Park Service Rangers aboard its 14 daily 60-minute Statue of Liberty Harbor Tours. The uniformed Rangers will be happy to answer any questions riders may have about Lady Liberty. The tours depart every 30 minutes from 10am to 4:45pm. There’s also the Staten Island Ferry, which is free year-round and offers views of the statue (along with those of Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor).

What is the best way to see Harlem?
Thanks to its diversity and size, there are many ways to see Harlem. How you choose to do it depends on what you're interested in. If you like the comfort of bus tours, check out Gray Line New York Sightseeing, which offers hop-on, hop-off convenience, or Tour America, whose Harlem on Sunday tour is one of its most popular NYC offerings.

Harlem Spirituals/New York Visions gives Sunday tours that encompass the neighborhood's tree-lined streets, the famous Apollo Theater and a worship service in a local church; if you're interested in the area's rich jazz history, try the company's evening Harlem jazz tour. Harlem, Your Way! Tours specializes in custom tours for groups and individuals but also has standard—albeit unusual—walking and bus tours such as the Champagne Jazz Safari or a gospel church service followed by gospel brunch.

For food and cultural tours, try A Taste of Harlem and enjoy the neighborhood's soul food as well as the cuisines of the Caribbean, Africa and Italy.

Of course, you could always explore the neighborhood on your own. The quickest way to Harlem is the A train. Hurry, get on and take along our itinerary of 12 Great Things to See and Do in Harlem. And for more on the neighborhood’s cultural institutions, visit our Destination: Harlem guide.

Are there any tour passes that include a hop-on, hop-off tour bus experience?
Yes, with the Explorer Pass you can enjoy one day of unlimited riding on one CitySightsNY "loop"—or an available upgrade for two days of unlimited riding on all riding "loops" for an additional $14.

What activities can you recommend for a rainy day in NYC?
Any of the City's museums offer both shelter from a storm and a great time. And some of them are free on particular days or all the time. There's always Madame Tussauds New York or Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square. Another great rainy day activity is a visit to the United Nations.

How do I obtain a refund for the sales taxes that I've paid in the US?
There is no refund to be had for the sales tax paid in New York City. Foreign visitors to the United States frequently confuse New York State's sales tax with the value-added tax (VAT). The state sales tax is a small tax on purchases or services, calculated at the time of purchase, which individual US states assess and which the US federal government neither determines nor receives. The VAT, on the other hand, is a national tax commonly applied in foreign countries that is included in the actual sales price rather than at the time of purchase. The United States does not have a VAT, and the federal government cannot refund state sales taxes.