Cindy and Amanda eating street food at a table in Diversity Plaza

News Staff Profiles

Meet Our Team: Amanda Adler Brennan

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing brief profiles about our wonderful and talented team at Turnstile Tours & Studio. Next up is our Food Tours Manager Amanda Adler Brennan.

Brian, Where are you from originally? 

I was born right here in New York City, and we lived just a few blocks from where we now offer our Midtown Food Cart Tours! When I was a child, my parents moved our family out to New Jersey, and I lived there until heading to New Hampshire for college.

And what do you do at Turnstile? 

I manage the Food Cart Tours and Public Market programs, I give school programs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I work with the team on special projects, and I provide some back office support. My favorite project so far has been developing the Jackson Heights tour and creating the content and materials.

How did you come to work at Turnstile? 

I worked at the Tenement Museum for several years before relocating for a period to Miami.  I had met Cindy (a legend at the Tenement Museum!) briefly during my time there.  So, when I returned to the New York area looking to get back into guiding, I saw the inspiring work that Turnstile was doing and I decided to get in touch. Here we are almost five years later!

Tell us about your experience that informs the work your do at Turnstile.

I have always loved working with people, and showing and telling them about the things I find most interesting.  This makes being a tour guide, especially in New York, the perfect job for me!  My years of experience in the museum world, coupled with my time spent giving tours in South Florida, have also lent themselves well to my work with Turnstile Tours.

My work at the Tenement Museum while on staff, and also while hosting their podcast How to be American (season 2), has a particularly strong connection to many of the themes discussed on a number of our tours, including the history of NYC in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the immigrant and worker experience.  Like the stories told at the Tenement Museum, I love that Turnstile explores the stories of lesser known New Yorkers, and often focuses on “untold” stories.  

Amanda leading a tour in front of the Mom's Momos Truck
Amanda leading the Jackson Heights Food Cart Tour at Mom’s Momos.
What is one memorable or meaningful experience you have had on a tour? 

During a virtual program with a senior group, a woman told a story of being a child in the 1930s and sneaking out of school to buy a knish from a street vendor.  She was almost moved to tears retelling the story, and she thanked us profusely for re-sparking her long lost memories through our talk about the history of street vending in New York. 

What is something interesting you have learned from researching or studying for tours? 

So much!!  While researching the Jackson Heights Food Cart Tour, I learned that the neighborhood had been developed essentially by a single corporation who had hoped to set up an all white middle class protestant community.  The contrast to what exists there today, and the story of how it developed really piqued my interest.  Also, since starting giving the school programs at the Navy Yard this past fall, I’ve really enjoyed learning all about the sustainable features of building 92, and the things that the yard is doing to be more environmentally friendly.

Tell us one of your favorite spots in New York. 

I love the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. I used to go there with my dad as a child. Although it’s quite a bit busier than it used to be, on a quiet day you can still get the feeling of being somewhere else, and then you look up and you’re surrounded by the city.  I’ve always loved it. 

Do you have a favorite book, movie, TV show, or artwork about New York? 

As You Pass By by Kenneth Holcomb Dunshee for its illustrations and feel of old New York, Here is New York by E.B. White for its unparalleled descriptions of life in New York, and Valley of the Dolls by Jaqulene Susan because it is just so soapy and wonderful! Also, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, The Mythic City: Photographs of NY, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Desperately Seeking Susan, Goodfellas, Manhattan … too many to choose!