The most populous city in the United States, New York has a huge impact on economic, social and technical factors all over the world. The city is almost 400 years old – ancient in U.S. terms – and is well known for its universities, Wall Street and Times Square. In addition to seeing the big tourist attractions in the city, it’s also fun to take a day and check out a few of the less-popular, but equally fascinating sights of the Big Apple.
The City Reliquary
What happens to all the quirky artifacts of a city as the world shifts and grows? If the city is New York, they end up in here, one of the most idiosyncratic museums in the city. It started as the eclectic collection of Dave Herman and featured odd things such as subway tokens and Statue of Liberty souvenirs. Over time Herman and his volunteers collected enough things to fill the current location on Metropolitan Avenue and the little museum has displays of peep-show tokens, a deli sign, memorabilia from the World’s Fair in 1939 and many other unusual collections. The museum even provides space for individuals to display their private collections because as Herman says, if you live in New York, you must have interesting stuff.
City Hall Subway Station
The Interborough Rapid Transit Company finished the southern terminal station underneath City Hall in October, 1904. At that time this was the showpiece station of the subway and used Romanesque Revival architecture to create an incredibly elegant and unique stop for the transit system. In 1945, passenger service was discontinued and the stop became a ghost station. Longer trains and new car designs made the station unusable and too expensive to renovate. Fortunately for tourists, the subway system still uses the rail as a turn-around and the opulent station can be glimpsed from the windows as the number 6 train loops around to return uptown. Members of the Transit Museum can take a tour, but since the drive-by viewing is only the cost of subway fare, it’s a popular trip for thrifty tourists.
This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was put together from architectural elements that span the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. Some two thousand works of art are on display at the museum and gardens in a setting so peaceful that you’ll forget you’re in a major museum in a very modern city. The Cloisters are made up of five abbeys which were disassembled in Europe and shipped to the city around 1935. They are integrated with modern structures that are medieval in design and hold medieval works of art. The library is one of thirteen that MoMa maintains and contains personal papers of George Bernard Shaw and recordings of performances at the museum.
The West Side Line Railroad used to run through Manhattan on an elevated rail bed. In 1929 the line was deemed too dangerous (cowboys used to ride in front of the trains waving flags to warn residents) and an alternate route was constructed. Begun in 2006, sections of the line have been replanted and converted into a linear park the runs 2.33 km through Manhattan. A walk through the park provides unique views of the city and the Hudson River along with art that is designed to integrate into the natural landscape. The newest section opened in late 2014 and another stub is expected to open early 2015.
Designed to look more like a park than a burying ground, the cemetery is a peaceful, albeit unusual place to take a stroll. Green, rolling hills and a plethora of wildlife are the backdrop for a number of historical monuments and the final resting places of some notable residents of Long Island. A walk through the cemetery takes visitors from an historic Revolutionary War battle site to the unknown victims of a theater fire in 1876 to Boss Tweed’s grave.
Everyone knows about Chinatown, Little Italy and Spanish Harlem, but few visitors venture into the Korean district in Midtown Manhattan. “Korea Way" is a block-long street that’s packed with multi-level buildings, each with a series of stores expanding up, rather than out. The bright colors, tantalizing smells from ethnic restaurants and shops featuring items geared toward the resident Korean population create a compact region that is as fascinating as a trip to Korea – without the long plane ride.
The largest urban beach in the country stretches along the south shore of Long Island facing the Atlantic Ocean. There are playgrounds, roller-hockey rinks, lifeguards and a giant sculpture of a whale. A walk down the boardwalk is a perfect way to spend an afternoon if you’ve forgotten your swim suit, or just roll up your trousers and splash through the waves.