11 New York Secrets: the less well known must see sights of New York City!
New York is full to the brim of secret sights and surprises and we made it our mission to find the best of its hidden gems! Here’s our guide to 11 of the best and less well known tourist attractions in New York City!
1 | Berlin Wall, Manhattan
We were definitely surprised when we stumbled across remnants of the Berlin Wall in the middle of a Manhattan courtyard! There are pieces of the Berlin Wall scattered all over the world and New York has secured its own piece of German history with two sections of the Wall currently on public display: one at Battery Park and the second in the UN plaza. It was fascinating to see sections of the wall on display as public art and a poignant reminder of such a monumental period of history.
2 | Life Underground, New York subway
The New York subway is never dull but make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the whimsical bronze statues which make up ‘Life Underground’, a series of cartoonish people and animal sculptures illustrating the impossibility of understanding life in New York. The statues depict business men, construction workers and even a sewer alligator dressed in a shirt and tie. Their surprise appearance is sure to brighten up any trip underground!
Life Underground, 14th Street and 8th Avenue subway station
3 | A birds eye view of Times Square!
There’s nothing secret about Times Square but these panoramic views of the crossroads of the world have to be seen to be believed! Above the crowds and craziness of Times Square, the hidden cocktail bars (our favourite is the R Lounge in the Renaissance Hotel) offer incredible views of the bright lights and yellow cabs the city is so famous for!The best view of Times Square! R Lounge, Renaissance Hotel, 48th and 7th
Where to stay in New York:
We’ve stayed all over the city during our trips to NYC. Our favourite hotels include the Courtyard Soho for location and price, the Knickerbocker and the Greenwich for luxury, the Renaissance Times Square for its Times Square location and SIXTY Lower East Side when we want explore downtown with a bonus rooftop pool! We use booking.com for our hotel bookings outside Asia and have linked to our affiliate account. Please use our affiliate links if you are making a booking – you pay the same price and we receive a small commission which keeps The Whole World is a Playground online!
4 | Alice and Wonderland, Central Park
Dreams are made in New York city and the Alice in Wonderland statue tucked away in Central Park perfectly indulges childhood dreams! The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse and Alice are all in attendance at this tea party and we were delighted to join as a guest!
Alice in Wonderland statue, East 74th Street, Central Park
5 | The Morgan Library
The Morgan Library is one of the most beautiful places we’ve come across in New York City. It began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan and his son, J.P. Morgan, transformed it into a public institution. The stunning library is a book lovers dream and the personal study is incredible.
The library also houses temporary exhibitions and we were lucky to chance upon Lincoln Speaks, an exhibition illustrating how Lincoln’s words changed the course of history. Our highlight was Walt Whitman’s handwritten copy of ‘O Captain, My Captain’, his mourning poem written in honour of Abraham Lincoln. And no, I can’t stop reciting it either!
6 | Irish Hunger Memorial
Under the beautiful backdrop of Lady Liberty and One World Trade Center, the Irish Hunger memorial is a reminder of both the famine and the fact that hunger and poverty continue to exist today. We were stunned by its elegance from the moment we walked through the entry tunnel filled with poignant quotes and the journey through the memorial is serene and peaceful.
Over 1 million people died as a result of the Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 and around 1 million more emigrated. The memorial contains stones from each of the Irish counties and represents a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage and fallow potato fields.
The abandoned cottage:
7 | Whispering Galleries, Grand Central
Separated by a stream of commuters I was a little skeptical as we stood in diagonally opposite corners of the Grand Central concourse attempting to whisper sweet nothings to each other across the hallway. That was until I heard the husband’s voice, clear as day, apparently travelling through the ceiling. It’s all down to the sound waves clinging to the walls but, to us, it was New York magic! It’s the simple things in life!
Photos like this are an added Grand Central bonus!
8 | Pomander Walk
As we caught sight of Pomander Walk on the Upper West Side it felt like we’d stepped onto an old England street. The colourful Tudor style buildings seem like a miniature movie set in contrast to the high rises that surround the tiny complex. It’s now a National Landmark and Pomander Walk is locked and gated so a view from the sidewalk may be the only chance of catching a glimpse these days!
9 | Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway
Beautiful views of Manhattan and the East River together with the novelty of a cable car ride and all for a single swipe of a Metro Card: the Roosevelt Island tram ride is a win win trip in New York City!
10 | A waterfall and a 1/2 avenue!
Every New York office worker knows the secret shortcut down 6 1/2 avenue from 51st to 57th street, a pedestrianized escape from the craziness of midtown Manhattan. Paley Park, with its 20 foot waterfall, is situated close by as is the glass waterfall tunnel. Who would have thought Midtown Manhattan could double up as a tropical oasis?!
11 | Love quotes in Central Park
On a morning run in Central Park we stopped to tie our laces and noticed a plaque inscribed on the bench: ‘this is a place to dream things that never were – and ask why not’. And so began our love affair with the Central Park benches! Around 1/3 of the park benches have been ‘adopted’ and inscribed with a personal quote. Let the search begin for your favourite!