If you are visiting probably the most talked about city on the planet, it is sometimes all too easy to get into the usual tourist mindset and spend your days visiting iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building.
The Big Apple is absolutely overflowing with hidden gems and cool and curious places that are off the beaten path, which are often known only to locals and savvy visitors who do their homework before they get here.
Perhaps an abandoned smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island doesn’t appeal as much as a lost river running right through tunnels under Brooklyn, but these are just two of the curiosities that you can find when you look beyond the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York.
Oldest house in Manhattan
Manhattan features prominently amongst top New York City hotels and is a great area to stay so that you can enjoy all the top amenities and restaurants that are close by.
Manhattan is also where you will find the Morris-Jumel Mansion, which is the oldest house in the area and is now used as an unusual museum that serves as a reminder of the home’s sordid past, which involves a mix of scandal, ghosts and even a vice-president, amongst the stories to tell.
The well-kept interior transports you back to a different era and this is a place that is well worth including on your itinerary.
Rare book library
If you are someone who loves the look and feel of an old book over a modern reading device, then the New York Academy of Medicine has a rare book library that will excite your senses.
This little-known library contains centuries of historical reference books that have been used since the mid 1800’2 to provide a valuable resource for the medical profession in the city. The academy does not widely publicise that they have a library of over 500,000 books, which include some rare works by Sigmund Freud.
You have to phone for an appointment to witness this hugely impressive hidden library, but you will be glad that you did.
Recreate an iconic image
If you were asked to name a popular iconic movie image, the shot of Marilyn Monroe trying to hold her skirt down over a subway grate is going to be right up there.
If you want a bit of fun, head down to the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd street, where you will find the exact subway grate featured in the famous photo. The grate is actually unmarked and easily passed by as just another grate, unless you are standing over it when an uptown 6 passes by underneath.
The white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe was sold in 2011 for $5 million, but you won’t have to spend anything to create your own version of one of the most famous images in cinematic history.
Secret escape for presidents
There is a lot of history underneath your feet in New York City and staying on the subjects of subways, you may want to set aside a few hours of your visit to find the infamous Track 61.
There are a number of abandoned train stations in the city but if you believe the legend, Track 61 isn’t one of them. It is apparently still on standby as a secret escape train route for presidents visiting the city.
It was never built as a passenger station, but hidden beneath the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and protected by an unmarked brass door at the street level of the Waldorf, this is definitely an unusual spot to investigate.
If the era of the speakeasy fascinates you, the Museum of the American Gangster would be a good place to visit.
The museum is actually built on a theater that was once a clandestine speakeasy owned by notorious gangster Walter Sheib. Relics from the prohibition period including bullets from the St Valentine’s Day massacre are just some of the fascinating items you can see when you visit.
New York is full of iconic and world famous images, but dig a bit deeper and you can soon find plenty of cool and curious places to see, that are not on the usual tourist map.
John Capone works as an athletic recruiter. He enjoys writing about his travels on the web. His posts appear mainly on travel and sports blogs.