There are so many things to see, do, and love in this rambunctious city, and some of them are real secret gems hidden in plain sight. New York is, in a way, famous for its peculiar underground sites and tucked-away treasures. Here we’ve put together this short list of secret spots an unconventional tourist can visit when in New York.
City Hall Station, 6 Train
City Hall’s subway station was closed for good on December 31, 1954. It’s a wonderful, preserved piece of the city’s history, open to the public during New York City Transit Museum tours. It boasts intricate skylights and a Guastavino tile arched ceiling, making it into a former jewel of the subway system.
New Yorkers are known to be experts at creating space where there is none, but Mmuseumm takes small space utilization to another level. Accommodating only three people at a time, this abandoned elevator turned museum displays a showcase of objects of a modern world, from everyday items, like cornflakes, to more obscure ones, like fake Iranian fast food packaging. It’s located at 4 Cortlandt Alley in Manhattan.
The Blockhouse, Central Park North
Central Park is a universal city’s tourist magnet, but few have seen all the gems that dot the green. This old stone fort called the Blockhouse lies at the northern part of Central Park near the Cliff. It was once used by American soldiers to defend against the possible British invasion of the island. All paths north lead to it.
The Earth Room, SoHo
A room filled with nothing but dirt. Yes, 3,600 square feet of prime time Manhattan real estate covered in 280,000 pounds of dirt. It’s a permanent art installation by Walter de Maria, formerly of the Velvet Underground, open for public viewing since 1980.
Cemetery, Bowery Hotel
Looking from the windows of the Bowery Hotel, this cemetery may seem like an ordinary lawn, but the grass hides plaques that mark the underground marble vaults where the dead lie. Tucked away from touristy eyes, it can be entered through the gated entrance at the end of a narrow alleyway on Second Avenue in the Bowery neighborhood.
Pomander Walk, Upper East Side
These houses were meant to be torn down to make way to a hotel, but the project was abandoned, and the houses survived intact to this day. This relic of the past, the Tudor-style homes modeled after a London stage play stand surrounded by modern high rises, resembles an architect’s dream.
Berlin Wall Remnants, Paley Park
This is a true hidden secret. One must know what it is, to know the value of these seemingly insignificant blocks of concrete, covered in graffiti. Five fragments of the Berlin Wall now stand in Paley Park at 520 Madison Avenue. The colorful side of these concrete slabs, facing the public, is the former western side, while the grim-looking blank concrete side, turned to the wall, is the eastern side, a reminder of the Cold War.