Urban Dare - New York (5/11/07)


The race begins with a trivia question to release teams from the start in Washington Square. The start was on time at 12:00 noon. Ropes on the ground divide the starting area into quadrants marked A, B, C and D.

The first question was: "Who wrote the song New York, New York?".

After a little dithering John decided he liked the obscure answer he'd never heard of. Lucky guess. The song was written for the opening credits of the Martin Scorcese film of the same name and was originally sung by Liza Minelli. Frank Sinatra first performed it in 1978.

Teams with the correct answer were released from the trivia round while the rest remained for more questions. Next, the runners were directed to a nearby field scattered with about a hundred tennis balls. Each tennis ball was numbered and they had to find the one corresponding to their team number (170). This took a few minutes -- by the time they found their number, another group had been released from the question round.

Trading their tennis ball for a clue sheet, the research team can swing into action

Many people seemed to be leaving the park headed south, so the runners followed, slowly, while reading out the first question to the research team. One block south of the park, Doug noticed that a bodega advertised "FAX service" on its awning. They went in and took a couple of minutes to fax the rest of the clues back to Lynn. The fax jammed, and only the last half came through, but this still probably saved some time.

Map with the clue answer locations


Near the plaque commemorating the site of the first labor observation the SPELLBOUND dare awaits you.

ANSWER: Union Square

On September 5, 1882, in the first Labor Day celebration, a crowd of at least 10,000 workers paraded up Broadway and filed past the reviewing stand at Union Square.

While the faxing was going on, the research team determined that they should head North to Union Square.

The "SPELLBOUND" dare first required that the runners find the Urban Dare staff members who were waiting near the plaque. Our intrepid runners were so focused on finding the plaque that they missed the race officials. So they ran around the park for at least 15 minutes looking in vain for a plaque. Finally, they got some help from another team who wanted to "trade letters". When they didn't have any letters, the other team took pity on them and sent them to find the race officials.


The team was given the word "DEPARTMENTS". Spread around the park were index cards taped to trees, benches, trash cans, sticks stuck in the ground, etc., with letter/number pairs, e.g., C/13, B/6. Correctly add up the letters in your word and report back to the race officials who will stamp your clue sheet so you can move on to the next clue.

DISTANCE: about 0.7 miles on foot.


Go to the square named for Old Silver Nails and get your picture with his statue.

ANSWER: Peter Stuyvesant statue in Stuyvesant Square.

Stuyvesant was given the nickname "Old Silver Nails" because he used a stick of wood driven full of silver nails as a prosthetic limb.

In 1640, Peter Stuyvesant was appointed governor of the area that was to become NYC when it was under Dutch rule. He curtailed the city's religious freedoms and closed all of the city's taverns. In 1664, the British conquered New Amsterdam and renamed it "New York" after the English Duke of York and Albany. The Dutch briefly regained it in 1673, called the city "New Orange", then permanently ceded the colony of New Netherland to the British for what is now Suriname in November 1674.

DISTANCE: 0.5 miles on foot. TIME: 12:50


"Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Go to the statue of the man who made this quote famous. You, however, will have to come to a full stop and answer some questions on this dare. Dare shuts down at 3:00.

ANSWER: Farragut statue in Madison Square Park.

Admiral Farragut is known for this order he issued at the Battle of Mobile Bay, a naval battle fought on August 5, 1864, during the American Civil War.

Waiting near the Farragut statue in Madison Square Park were Urban Dare staff with a trivial pursuit contest. The race staff would read questions from a Trivial Pursuit 1980s Edition and give colored pie wedges to anyone who shouted out the right answer. When a team collected all six wedges, their ticket would be stamped and they could continue to the next clue.

Note to race organizers -- next time give this job to somebody with a BIG voice. It was very difficult to hear the questions over the nearby leaf-blower/pressure sprayer.

Doug got five of the questions. John was pretty lost on 80s trivia, coming through only for the final question of "What David Letterman crony was sent to the Kremlin to recruit defectors?" Answer: Larry "Bud" Melman.

Federico, who was running a little late, caught up with Doug and John at Madison Square park.

DISTANCE: about 0.5 miles on foot followed by a 0.5 mile subway ride.


This woman served as Prime Minister of Israel. Go to her square and look for the vendor wearing an Urban Dare shirt. Eat up and he'll stamp your passport.

ANSWER: Golda Meir Square (Broadway and 39th St)

The "vendor" had some pretzels. Doug took one because he was hungry, but it wasn't necessary to eat it to get the stamp.

DISTANCE: 1.3 miles by subway plus 0.3 miles foot.


Photo hunt - take a picture of a human pyramid 3-2-1. They must be non-competitors in the race.


This was done with a group of people found later in Battery Park.

TIME: 2:52


IF YE BREAK FAITH WITH THOSE WHO DIED WE SHALL NOT SLEEP THOUGH POPPIES GROW ON FLANDERS FIELDS -- Go to the statue with this inscription for your Ode to our Soldiers dare. This dare shuts down at 3:00.

ANSWER: Statue in De Witt Clinton Park (11th Ave and 53 St)

The poem is by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) of the Canadian Army. A monument with the words is located at the southeast corner of De Witt Clinton Park.

At the location the team had to give a rousing "Boo yah!" shout, do 20 push-ups each and complete a lyric of the marching cadence "I don't know but I been told..." After watching John do 20 very lame pushups, Doug suggested "push-ups make John Salmon feel old".

DISTANCE: 0.8 miles by foot plus 0.7 miles by bus.


This Sphere was created as a monument to world peace through trade. It is no longer at its original location, nor in its original mint condition. Get your picture with it.

ANSWER: Sphere in Battery Park.

The Sphere described as "a monument fostering world peace," was created in 1971 by artist Fritz Koenig. The 45,000-pound sculpture is 15 feet in diameter and is made of steel and bronze.

It originally stood in the fountain of the World Trade Center plaza and was pulled from underneath the collapsed towers. It sustained a gash through its center, but remains structurally intact and now stands in Battery Park near the Bowling Green entrance.

The runners intended to take the C train and then change to the 6, but they mistakenly took the E train that ended at World Trade Center. After some underground confusion they went back outside, backtracked to the Chambers Street station intending to get the 1 train, which was not running, so they took the 2 train to Wall Street. This let them out within a block of Clue 8, which they picked up before Clue 7. (It's great that the clues don't have to be done in order.)

Distance: approx. 5 miles by subway plus 1.3 miles by foot. TIME: 2:50


George Washington was sworn in as president here in New York. Get your picture with his statue in front of the building where this took place.

ANSWER: Federal Hall

Federal Hall, located at 26 Wall Street in New York City, was the first capitol of the United States. A bronze statue of George Washington on its front steps marks the site where he was inaugurated in 1789. The original building was demolished in the 19th century and replaced by the current structure.

TIME: 2:44

Instead of getting on the subway at the Bowling Green station which was only a few yards from where they photographed the answer to Clue 7, they ran back up Broadway to the Wall Street station. Actually, even better would have been to run over to the JZ station at Broad St. On the other hand, they recognized that the 5 becomes an express north of City Hall, so they got out there to avoid being taken to Union Square.

Research had found the location of the photograph in number 11, but the photograph in number 10 was still a mystery, and the location of the chess tables in 7-block long Sara Roosevelt park was also uncertain.

The photograph in Clue 10 was of a parks department sign saying "Please Do Not Feed Pigeons or Squirrels", and then something else (presumably the same thing) in Chinese. Columbus Park in Chinatown seemed like a good bet. Unfortunately, no bilingual sign was found.

CLUE 11:

Get your picture with a sign (showing a large gun). The pistol is "Grand" sized.

ANSWER: John Jovino Gun Shop : 183 Grand St

The shop, located on Grand St, has a large sign with a big gun.

Distance: approx 0.5 miles by subway plus 1.3 miles by foot including the side trip to Columbus Park in Chinatown. TIME: 3:28

CLUE 10:

Get your picture with a sign saying "Please do not feed pigeons or squirrels" in both English and Chinese.

ANSWER: Wah-Mei Bird Park in Sara D Roosevelt Park.

While trying to find online info about the chess and backgammon tables in Sara Roosevelt Park, Lynn learned about the Wah Mei Bird Park where people (mostly Chinese) sit with their song birds in Sara Roosevelt Park. Since this was along the route between clues 9 and 11, it looked like a promising spot for a bilingual sign. Doug saw it first. John would have walked right past.

Distance: approx 0.7 miles by foot. TIME: 3:36


The mother of the only president to serve more than two terms has a nice big park. Find the chess & backgammon tables where your most puzzling dare awaits you. This dare shuts down at 4:45pm.

ANSWER: Sara Delano Roosevelt Park.

The seven block long Sara D Roosevelt Park stretches from Canal St to Houston St between Chrystie and Forsyth.

The chess and backgammon tables are at the south end of the park, seven blocks from where they snapped the photo of the bilingual sign.

The dare required the team to assemble a 60-piece jigsaw puzzle of some cute dogs. With Federico's help, this was solved pretty quickly.

Distance: 0.6 miles by foot.


Finish Bleecker Street Bar where your aim must be true on the final dare.

ANSWER: Bar at 56 Bleecker St.

The runners had just passed the subway entrance at Grand St so they took the B train back to Broadway-Lafayette.

The final dare required the team to score a bull's eye at darts. After about 15 throws, John hit an "outer bull" (25 points), which was good enough to cross the finish line. Final time: something over three hours.

DISTANCE: 0.8 miles by subway plus 0.2 by foot.

TOTAL DISTANCE on foot: 6.9 miles ; by public transport: 8.8 miles

TOTAL TIME just under 4 hours.

The first place team had a time of 2:36 followed by 3:06, 3:13, 3:35, and 3:36. John and Doug were somewhere between 10th and 15th place.

Map with the clue answer locations

Other links:

Runners Research Team
John Salmon
Doug Hughes
Federico Sacerdoti
Robert Dirks
Jim Laakso
Rick Larson
Lynn Salmon
Christine Ueda