Sightseeing In New York – 1906
This tradition of showing off the city from a motorized vehicle has been going on for over 110 years.
This photo is from around 1906 shows a group of tourists at Bowling Green, near the Battery. Thy are packed side by side in an early version of a motorized open omnibus or truck. A driver sits on the right behind a huge steering wheel while the tour guide with megaphone stands facing the tourists.
An entrepreneurial mining man from Denver, Colorodo with the unlikely name of Henry J. Mayham found success running tour buses in Salt Lake City, Charleston, Los Angeles and Boston. On June 15, 1902, Mayham began service in New York City and the “Seeing New York Observation Coaches” became the first sightseeing buses in New York.
The original six vehicles could each accommodate up to 44 people. Two trips were made daily and covered 12 miles of Manhattan for $1.50. Besides a driver for the bus, the company sent along a guard, an announcer with megaphone and a representative to see that everything went right. At first the buses were horse drawn, but with the growing popularity of motorized vehicles, the company soon abandoned horses and went to self-propelled vehicles.