NYC's Best Kept Secrets and Interesting Facts Revealed
It’s no secret to us as New Yorkers that our fair city is home to a treasure trove of activities and unique spectacles unavailable anywhere else.
But what we really love is all of New York City’s nooks and crannies: the fascinating, mysterious parts of the city that no one else knows about except for us. It's New York City’s best-kept secrets - and you’re not a New Yorker if you don’t know a few yourselves. So here are a few of the under the radar destinations, experiences and spots our fair city has to offer, not only to visitors, but to those of us who have lived here for years.
These unique spots offer visitors a glimpse into New York City’s historical, rich and complicated past. If you’re looking for spots to show off to relatives who are visiting or you’re looking to explore your city even further, here are a few places to tick off your New York City Best Kept Secret Bucket List.
The First Evidence of New York City’s Grid System
Start your Best Kept Secret Journey with a stroll down memory lane beginning in Central Park. Explore the entirety of Central Park (or do a few Google searches), until you find a bolt sticking out of a small rock. This wild goose chase isn’t for nothing: this small bolt is rumored to be the last piece evidence of the creation of New York City’s grid plan.
A remarkable marking spot harkening back to New York City’s first planning stages, the bolt is rumored to be from the original survey of Manhattan by John Randel Jr. in the 1810s as they were creating the grids that would become the intersection of streets and avenues.
So you see, this isn’t just some bolt: this is a bonafide piece of New York City history.
Seaman Drake Arch
Think all New York City apartment buildings look the same? You clearly haven’t been down to the West Side of Broadway near 215th Street. When you get there, you’ll see something that seems…well, out of place: a giant marble archway. You’ve arrived at the Seaman Drake Arch, which was constructed to be an entranceway for John Seamen’s hillside estate (see top).
As the years went on, the property exchanged through various owners (including being acquired by Thomas Dwyer, a builder who constructed part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park’s Soldiers and Sailors monument).
While the years haven’t been too kind to the arch, it still exists as one of the most awesome – and oldest surviving - streetscapes you’re sure to encounter in New York City (or anywhere for that matter).
William Jenkins Worth Public Mausoleum
According to Roadside America, only two public graves exist in all of New York City (who would of thought?). One of those graves belongs to William Jenkins Worth, who served in many battles of the Mexican-American War.
While his location in this particular spot is somewhat obscure (especially because he doesn’t have any connection to New York City in the first place), the grave no less stands in a traffic island next to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park in one of the most central parts of the city.
A floating clubhouse? In Manhattan? Yes, it’s true!
The Honorable William Wall exists as the floating clubhouse of the Manhattan Sailing Club. With limited seasonal availability (only May through October), the Willy Wall, as it’s affectionately referred to, is one of the best places to take in an evening cocktail while watching the sunset over the river or watching the sailboat races against the marvelous backdrop of the Manhattan Skyline.
To journey to the clubhouse, transportation is provided by Admiral’s Launch which departs from North Cove Dock F every 30 minutes. You can climb aboard for drinks and food from the open-air bar on the upper deck or you can bring your own food for a picnic aboard or join them for their monthly famous Full Moon Parties.
Truly, it is one of the best places to take in the full view of the Island of Manhattan.
The Spring and Summer were made for drinks and dinner at The Boat Basin Café. A short walk through Riverside Park will lead you through to the restaurant.
The eatery is neatly arranged into three sections, of which you can take your pick to sit. Whether you opt for the open air patio that overlooks the Hudson River and the boats that drift into the Marina at sunset, the Covered Rotunda section with beautiful archaic limestone arches overlooking the patio or in their Circular open air area (normally reserved for parties), you won’t get a better – or more unique view – over the Hudson River.
If you’ve seen every Broadway and Off-Broadway production and it still hasn’t satisfied your need for New York City Theater, it’s time you head for a tour of The Players Club in Gramercy.
Dating back to 1865, Edwin Booth (yes – the brother of none other than John Wilkes Booth) was on a mission to clear his family’s name. His love of theater and a visit to the Garrick Club in London formed his concept for starting a private club for actors and performance artists in New York City. 23 years later, The Players Club was founded.
This year it marks its 127th anniversary and celebrates its history as the oldest club in New York City still in its original location. The club is a thespian’s paradise, full of old costumes, manuscripts and other resources all for the browsing. In fact, The Screen Actors Guild was formed here. This is a must not miss for the active New York City theater buff that’s sure not to disappoint.
58 Joralemon Street
On a letter, 58 Joralemon Street may just seem like an address. Which is why we encourage you to visit it in person. Why? This address is actually a New York City Subway vent. Built in 1847 as a private residence the Interborough Rapid Transit Company acquired the property in 1908 and converted it to a ventilator and an emergency exit for the eastern End of New York City Subway’s Joralemon Street Tunnel.
The unique part about it? As the building passed from the Interborough Rapid Transit System to the New York City Board of Transportation to the New York City Transit Authority, the outside of the building was kept to mimic the other buildings around it. From the outside, it features exactly the same façade as the other buildings around it, right down to the Lexan windows, making this fascinating piece of New York City, well persevered but also, well hidden.
Grave of Alexander Hamilton
Time to pay attention to our beloved history buffs. And for this, we offer you one of New York City’s greatest treasures: The Constitutional Graves at Trinity Church Cemetery. Yes, New York City has become the final resting place for many of the very active – and notable - members of the American Revolution, including Alexander Hamilton.
Also buried at Trinity Church’s historical cemetery are General Horatio Gates, leader of the Battles of Saratoga, and Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat. If you’ve got a history buff in your group, this is one of the best locations for a quick walk through the history of the American Revolution.
Staten Island Boat Graveyard
Speaking of steamboats, if mystery is more your thing, take a trip to one of New York’s spookiest destinations, the Staten Island Boat Graveyard.
Complete with decaying ship hulls and rotting, rusting rowboats, the Staten Island Boat Graveyard is somewhat magnificent in its own unique way.
While you are no longer able to publicly access the graveyard, you can view the remnants of the discarded ships through the fence that bars the entrance. It’s truly one of the most mysterious, yet eerily beautiful parts of Staten Island.
Now it’s your turn!
New York City’s best kept secrets are all around us. Time to grab your group of friends and head out for a day of exploring the city that you only thought you knew. Exploring these little known destinations will pique your interest and get you more acquainted with a city that truly has more to offer than what lies on the surface. Sure, of course we love how structures lights up at night, the sounds…the beat of the city…and the fact that we can get a philly cheesesteak in NYC at pretty much any time of the day.
No matter what your interest, our city has something to offer to you as a resident and your visitors alike – and that’s what we love about it. Next time you head out with your friends, take them to one of these underground, little known spots, and you’ll emerge as the New Yorker who truly knows.