Visitors interested in almost any aspect of New York City’s history- from the LGBTQ community to architecture- can find a walking tour catered to their interest. One such walking tour looks at the city through the history of Islam.
Katie Merriman created the Muslim History Tour in 2014. The tour represents the intersection of her interests in religion and New York City; Merriman grew up in the city and is now pursuing a PhD in religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Currently, she runs two different tours. One covers Muslims in Harlem, and the other focuses on Wall Street. The tours trace nearly 400 years of history, starting when enslaved North Africans were brought to the Dutch colonies. The Harlem tour goes by well-known sites, such as the Apollo Theater, as well as spots related to little-known history. While Merriman herself is not Muslim, she believes that Muslim history is an indispensable part of New York City’s story. She hopes that people who take the tour come away with a more complete picture of American history.
The Muslim History Tour is offered once a month from April until October. Merriman does not charge a fee for the tour. Instead, she suggests that participants who wish to pay for the experience make a donation to Brotherhood-Sistersol, an organization that provides a variety of youth services.