There is never a shortage of excitement to be had in the big city. New York is in fact known for being an incredibly vibrant city, always with a laundry list of things to do and explore. However, there are still areas that are kept secret from the most experienced locals. Here’s the inside scoop on 17 secret places in NYC.
1. Brooklyn’s Secret Subway Exit
This seemingly realistic townhouse at 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn is actually a subway exit. The windows are tinted which makes it stand out from the neighboring facades. Once inside, you find stairs and boxes. Spooky, huh? The building is used to ventilate the Brooklyn subway lines.
2. World Trade Center Sphere
This statue once stood between the Twin Towers in the Financial District. Miraculously, the sculpture was not destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the buildings. After 9/11, the statue was moved to Battery Park and inserted with an eternal flame to commemorate the victims of the attack.
3. Midtown East’s Greenacre Park
Yes, there is an actual waterfall in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. This beautiful mid-city escape is located at 217 East 51st Street. Pull up a chair and enjoy. It is open to the public.
4. Roosevelt Island Hospital
Once a smallpox hospital, this Roosevelt Island castle-like structure was built to keep smallpox victims away from the general public.
5. The East Village’s C-Squat House
Squatters have taken over this building at 155 Avenue C in the East Village. Not only that, they have modified it with skateboarding ramps and stage space for punk shows.
6. Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill
Named after a 1798 battle in Ireland, the neighborhood of Vinegar Hill features homes built from the 1800s and earlier. The cobblestone streets give this neighborhood an old school feel.
7. Cobble Hill Tunnel
The Cobble Hill Tunnel is an abandoned tunnel in the Long Island Rail Road system that is known as the oldest underground tunnel in the nation. There are rumors that the tunnels were used by terrorists as well as transportation for early 19th century contraband such as whiskey.
8. High Bridge
Connecting Manhattan and the Bronx, this beautiful bridge has been unused since 1970 and it leads to beautiful forests just on the outskirts of the city.
9. Red Hook Grain Elevator
At the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, this abandoned refinery factory features huge silos for exploring and boasts an amazing view of the city skyline.
10. The Elevator Historical Society
There is a museum for everything in NYC. This tiny Long Island museum was opened in 2011 by former elevator operator and maintenance repairman, Pat Carrajat. In this museum (available by appointment only) you’ll find elevator ID plaques, repair tools, button plates, and more.
11. Staten Island’s Mount Loretto Beach Rock Garden
In 1996, Staten Island local, Doug Schwartz crafted over 200 incredible rock sculptures all along Mount Loretto State Park Beach. Although Doug is no longer actively creating the sculptures anymore, many remain and some have even been added to.
12. Dead Horse Bay
The name says it all. Yes, you may find dead animal remains. However, the real treasures lie in the old bottles that wash up on the shore. You can find this “beach” between Brooklyn’s Gerritsen Inlet and the Rockaway Inlet.
13. Astoria’s Steinway Piano Factory
The Steinway Piano Factory is home to some of the world’s finest pianos. With 80% of piano production completed by hand and each piano meticulously crafted for over 9 months, this is a factory that oozes history and master craftsmanship. If you are keen to learn more, enjoy a factory tour available given by the employees.
14. Green-Wood Cemetery
Composed of nearly 500 acres in the neighborhood of Greenwood Heights, Green-Wood is one of New York’s oldest, largest, and most famous cemeteries. And with more than 570,000 burials – including celebrities Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and countless baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers, and inventors – Green-Wood estimates that its genealogical information relates to over 20 million individuals alive today. This cemetery in Brooklyn offers old tombstones and incredible architecture, so we’d call it a win/win.
15. Hell Gate Bridge
PC: Dave Frieder
Connecting Queens to Randall’s Island, the Hell Gate Bridge is secret and unique because you can actually walk inside it. To get inside the steel arch bridge, start by the BQE where the tracks are close enough to the ground to walk on and walk until you arrive at the bridge.
Built in 1898, the 5000-pound bronze structure is the largest in the city and is now known as the Clocktower Gallery. After the 9/11 attacks, the Clocktower gallery closed to the public. Now, only the clock master and approved guests are allowed inside.
17. The Financial District’s Trinity Church
Right across the street from the New York Stock Exchange lies the Trinity Church and its accompanying cemetery, home to some of the oldest tombstones in the city. The gorgeous architecture and historic value make it well worth the downtown trip.