Following up our master list of 160 secrets of New York City, we bring to you 160 hidden gems of New York City! Every one of these hidden gems are places for you to discover. Some show the uniqueness and quaintness of New York City’s architecture, others reveal the infrastructure that supports New York or the history hidden in plain sight. Some are simply off-the-beaten path. All, we believe, are hidden gems in their own right. The majority are publicly accessible although some only on limited occasions. Some come from our book about the secrets of Brooklyn, but this list covers all five boroughs of the city. Many others come from the archives of Untapped New York and some come from exciting user-generated submissions on our Facebook page (thank you!). So without further ado, here are the hidden gems of New York City!
1. A quaint English style street named Pomander Walk is hidden mid-block on the Upper West Side.
2. There’s a Chinese Garden on Staten Island
The Chinese Scholars Garden is a true hidden gem of New York City. It lies in an unexpected place: Snug Harbor, a place founded for retired seamen. The Neoclassical-style campus-like cultural center has both this Chinese garden and a botanical garden, among many other great gems.
3. There’s a clock in the sidewalk on Broadway.
You may have seen this clock in Pretend It’s a City recently! Untapped New York supplied the image that was applied using CGI (since the clock has been walked over and scratched up since it was restored, in the photo above). The Barthman Clock remains one of our favorite hidden gems in New York City.
4. Down an alley in Greenwich Village is one of the city’s oldest lampposts.
6. Sylvan Terrace in Washington Heights feels lifted straight out of a film set.
7. There’s an art gallery inside Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.
8. Hidden in plain sight next to the Battery, this tiny cannon is the oldest European artifact in NYC.
This hidden gem right in Lower Manhattan continues to surprise even the most jaded New Yorkers. The “Oyster Pasty” is hidden in plain sigh.
9. Test Pillars for the stones in Grand Central Terminal are hidden in Van Cortlandt Park (as are vaults that hid NYC’s records in the war)
10. There’s a Scrabble Street sign in Queens.
The iconic game Scrabble was created by a Jackson Heights resident and this street sign is a tribute to him. If you don’t look up, you might miss this hidden gem!
11. There are two landmarked trees in NYC.
13. There’s a corn maze in Queens.
14. Behind a gate in Murray Hill sits Sniffen Court, one of the smallest historic districts in NYC.
15. There are many remnants of the World’s Fairs in Flushing-Meadows, including two underground time capsules.
16. You can go to jazz concerts in the crypt of this Upper Manhattan church.
There are people buried in the wall of this Gothic church in Upper Manhattan, but the real gem is the fact that the space is repurposed for concerts and events.
17. There’s a hidden sandy beach in Upper Manhattan.
18. Near South Street Seaport, you’ll find an office building that has a wild west candy store in front and a vintage airplane on roof.
The candy store is the quirky addition of an oddball developer named Melvyn Kaufman. In fact, 77 Water Street is full of surprising finds, including an astroturf runway on the roof adorned with a World War I-era model fighter plane. These types of hidden gems help keep New York City’s streetscape a place of serendipity.
19. There are glass water towers on some of NYC’s rooftops.
20. Tucked inside an unmarked warehouse in Long Island City, there is a priceless assortment of Tiffany glass
21. The New York Marble Cemetery is hidden down an alley in the East Village
Courtesy of the New York Marble Cemetery
At the end of a small alleyway off of Second Ave and East 2nd Street, the New York Marble Cemetery is the oldest public non-sectarian burial ground in New York City. It’s one of our favorite hidden gems (and we’ve hosted tours there!)
22. Addisleigh Park in Queens, the “African-American Gold Coast of New York” was home to talented figures like Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, Lena Horne.
23. There’s a forgotten and abandoned monumental arch like the Washington Square Park arch in Upper Manhattan.
24. A sidewalk sign denotes the center of NYC (but it’s wrong).
This spot is perhaps one of the quirkiest hidden gems of all. The basketball court of Long Island University is one of the fanciest out there, repurposed for a former Paramount theater. The last we heard, it was going to be transformed back into an entertainment venue. This is one of the locations in our book Secret Brooklyn.
26. Alexander Hamilton’s home is more well-known now thanks to Hamilton, but it’s still a lovely, bucolic find to come across in Upper Manhattan.
27. There’s an Art Deco bathhouse in the Rockaways.
28. The mantel in front of which Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Raven is in a Columbia Library (and we helped rediscover it!)
29. A fake townhouse in Brooklyn Heights hides a subway ventilation facility.
One of these townhouses is not like the other! Guess which one?
30. There’s a tiny Civil Rights monument on Trump Place.
31. There’s a historic Dutch Windmill in a Queens park.
33. The original NYC home of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships still stands.
35. There is a set of historic gantries on the Bronx waterfront.
36. The Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx has the largest collection of seafood wholesellers in the United States.
37. There’s a high school with airplanes in its parking lot.
38. The Steinway Factory is still making pianos in Queens and has a piano vault only accessible by fingerprint.
39. There are electricity-themed streets names in the Bronx.
42. Hidden inside Grand Central, the former office of a business tycoon is now a bar.
44. There’s an abandoned train station by Cass Gilbert in the Bronx.
45. There are Native American caves in Inwood Park.
46. On Front Street in DUMBO is the oldest office building in NYC.
47. In Vinegar Hill, you can get a glimpse of the fabulous former Commandant House in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
48. The Elizabeth Street Garden is a hidden gem and oasis in Nolita (and is at risk of demolition)
49. The New York Public Library has remnants of the original Croton Reservoir, where NYC got its water, inside.
50. Look up! Don’t miss the gorgeous sky bridges of NYC
51. New York City has several pieces of the Berlin Wall.
52. There’s a zoetrope in the NYC subway.
53. The Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City will transport you to Ireland.
54. Under Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is the oldest transit tunnel in the world.
55. Hidden down a hallway between apartment buildings is the landmarked Amster Yard in Turtle Bay, a hidden gem only for people who know it exists..
56. There’s a buried stream in the Bronx.
57. The Marine Park Salt Marsh has the remnants of a former grist mill and a man-made island.
58. The doors on the Our Lady of Lebanon church in Brooklyn Heights are from the sunken S.S. Normandie.
59. At Pratt University, find the oldest continuously-operating, privately-owned, steam-powered electrical generating plant in the country.
60. You can go inside the Little Red Lighthouse, tucked under the George Washington Bridge.
61. There’s a sunken, abandoned rail line in the Bronx.
62. Staten Island has a museum of Tibetan art.
63. A sandy beach under the Brooklyn Bridge is opened up once a year.
64. A beach in Brooklyn is filled with glass bottles and other antique items.
65. You can tour the mid-century home of jazz legend Louis Armstrong.
Photo courtesy Louis Armstrong House Museum
66. New York City has 5 of the Loews Wonder theaters, buildings that hide extraordinary spectacular interiors.
67. Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island has a collection of 28 historic homes, with buildings moved there to ensure its preservation.
68. A wall in Brooklyn part of a ConEd facility is the last remnant of Washington Park, home to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops baseball team.
69. The relics of a brick-making company town can still be seen on Staten Island.
70. Those mysteriously beautiful civic-looking buildings actually former fire telegraph stations.
72. There’s a column in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from 120 AD.
73. “L” tiles in the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station are remnants of the Loeser’s Department Store.
74. There is a secret art installation emanating from a subway grate in Times Square.
75. There’s a museum tucked into a freight elevator.
This tiny museum is located on Cortlandt Alley, a popular filming location and secret spot in Chinatown. The freight elevator is jam packed with items that take you quite some time to peruse. It’s open 24/7, and you can call the phone number on the door to get an exhibition audio guide guide.
76. It’s possible to go inside the Washington Square Park Arch (and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch in Brooklyn).
77. There’s a bowling alley under the Frick Collection.
We’ve bowled here! Here’s a video. Henry Clay Frick commissioned a stylish subterranean bowling alley in 1916, along with a billiards table for playing billiards or pool. This fabulous secret of New York City is not open to the public, but it’s in great working condition. (It’s not the same was the bowling alley in There Will Be Blood, which was filmed in the Greystone Mansion in Los Angeles).
78. Cheese is being aged in beer tunnels in Brooklyn.
79. Find architectural remnants of demolished buildings inside the Brooklyn Museum-Eastern Parkway subway station.
80. There’s a Quaker Cemetery inside Prospect Park.
81. One building at Columbia University is from the former mental asylum Columbia was built atop of.
82. You can find two pieces of Plymouth Rock in New York City.
84. You can see several abandoned subway stations while riding the 6 train.
85. The famous red Macy’s bag on 34th Street hides a building.
87. There are hidden gardens on top of Rockefeller Center’s buildings.
Not visible from street view, the secret gardens at Rockefeller Center provide a respite from the urban jungle. One is an event space and the other is part of an office.
88. There are remnants of Penn Station in the Brooklyn Museum courtyard.
89. There’s an abandoned subway station under City Hall.
90. A stately concrete building in Gowanus next to Whole Foods was a “flagship prototype” building for the new material that took America by storm after 1867.
91. There’s a secret apartment inside Radio City.
92. In Queens, find the World’s Largest Architectural Model, a Panorama of NYC.
You can actually adopt a building in this Panorama in the Queens Museum and it gets updated (although The World Trade Center towers have remained). It was recently featured in the Netflix documentary, “Pretend It’s a City” from Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz. You can see this and other fun finds in our tour of the Remnants of the World’s Fairs.
94. There’s an abandoned basketball court on Governors Island
96. Damage left from of a plane that crashed in Park Slope in 1961 is still visible.
98. You can find parts of a lost mansion that once stood in Fort Tryon Park.
99. There’s a “Robotic Church” in Brooklyn.
101. There’s a hidden tennis court in Grand Central.
This is a popular spot we show on our tour of the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal.
102. There’s an abandoned shooting range below the Park Slope Armory that dates to before the Civil War.
103. There’s an abandoned Colonial-era school (and some epic stained glass) inside Erasmus High School in Brooklyn.
104. There are catacombs in Green-Wood Cemetery and Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
105, There are many spots on the Underground Railroad still standing in New York City.
106. In Greenwich Village, you can find a triangle denoting the smallest plot of land in NYC.
107. There’s a 6 1/2 Avenue in Manhattan.
108. On top of apartments buildings, you can sometimes find suburban-style homes or beach bungalows.
109. The oldest of three retractable bridges in the U.S. is located in Gowanus.
110. An angled townhouse in Greenwich Village marks the site of a 1970 explosion.
111. There’s a museum filled with taxidermy animals from the Torah.
112. The “Treasures in the Trash Museum,” showcases over 50,000 items a sanitation worker collected over 30 years.
113. The New Yorker Hotel has an underground tunnel that once led to Penn Station.
114. There is a hidden elevated park tucked in the Financial District.
115. Many of NYC’s most famous sculptures are cast in the former carriage house of the Steinway estate.
116. Bowling Green’s fence dates back to the American Revolution and you can touch where the crown shaped finials were chopped off by the Sons of Liberty.
117. Along Wall Street, a forgotten art installation of wooden blocks marks the original line of the wall that divided Dutch New Amsterdam from the rest of Manhattan.
118. The Alley Pond Giant is the oldest living organism in NYC, at over 450 years old.
119. There is a rooftop vineyard in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Photo by Augustin Pasquet
120. A room in The Player’s Club is frozen in time from when the club’s founder, Edwin Booth, died in it in 1893.
121. There’s a redwood tree towering above Houston Street.
123. A flagpole from Ebbets Field is now at Barclays Center.
124. There’s a Japanese house in Brooklyn.
125. Seneca Village, once located inside Central Park, was home to a thriving African American community
126. There’s a “morgue” in the New York Times.
127. The Metropolitan Opera has its own armory.
128. People live on this abandoned airfield on Staten Island.
129. Fordham University has a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel.
130. The former eagles of Penn Station are scattered all around the East Coast, with several still in NYC.
131. There’s a secret staircase inside the Grand Central information booth.
133. There is a French-style grotto in the Bronx.
134. There’s a hidden bookstore dedicated to Winston Churchill.
135. There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house on Staten Island.
136. The smallest cemetery in Manhattan has one grave in it.
137. Brooklyn had one of the largest free-black communities in the United States.
139. There’s a landlocked lighthouse on Staten Island.
140. There is a loft in Tribeca that is just filled with dirt.
142. A Lower East Side church preserves its slave galleries for historical reasons.
143 At Flushing Town Hall, jail cells have been turned into changing rooms for performances.
144. Floyd Bennett Field is home to a historic aircraft restoration project.
145. There’s an abandoned Redbird Subway Car in Queens Boulevard.
146. There are numerous monasteries in NYC.
148. There’s a Ganesh temple in Queens with a hidden restaurant.
149. The oldest private residence in NYC, built in 1655, sits near the bridge to Rikers Island.
151. There’s a Hall of Fame of Great Americans in the Bronx.
152. There’s a giant chessboard on this Midtown building.
153. Marcus Garvey Park has the last fire watchtower in NYC.
155. One of the oldest fortune telling machine of its kind is the unofficial guardian of the Wonder Wheel on Coney Island.
156. There’s a former snuff mill inside the New York Botanical Garden
157. On North Brother Island, one of the numerous abandoned islands in New York City, you can find remnants of the tuberculosis hospital and post WWII veteran community that was once there.
158. Greenwich Village is home to NYC’s narrowest house.
159. In Union Square, there is a memorial to the Armenian Genocide.
160. Grandma’s Predictions, of the oldest fortune telling machine of its kind is the unofficial guardian of the Wonder Wheel.
You can discover many of these hidden gems in our book Secret Brooklyn. Get free shipping on autographed copy with code BROOKLYN!