For the majority of tourists and New Yorkers, the Big Apple’s past is primarily told via modern icons like the Empire State Building or famous museums, which focus more on world history rather than the NYC’s history. If you can get beyond such well known attractions, for example when you buy cruise tickets to the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, you will find plenty of historical landmarks that truly tell the history of one of America’s oldest cities. Here are the top 4 locations that are often overshadowed by more famous attractions, but are an integral part in the history of the city.
- Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the only religious place of interest on this list that is often forgotten in a metropolis famous for its churches. Many visitors know of Trinity Church and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, but what they don’t know is that St. John’s has a long and unique history unlike any other building in NYC. It’s not only the fourth largest Christian church in the world, but since its construction began back in 1892, the church still remains unfinished till today!
The church is sometimes referred to as St. John the Unfinished and it features a historical timeline of various construction styles and techniques as every addition and change reflects the period in which it was created. This gothic revival church is also home to a huge art studio holding unique art exhibitions. The art exhibits take advantage of the 601-foot long cathedral that offers the perfect backdrop for highlighting amazing artwork.
- Federal Hall Memorial
A more famed neighbor, Wall Street, probably overshadows the Federal Hall Memorial, but it stands as one of New York City’s integral historical sites. In 1812, the first Federal Hall was demolished, the structure that stands today has served as the first capitol building of the United States of America and this was the site where George Washington was inaugurated. The building is most famous for the life size statue of George Washington as well as the fact that it’s where the Bill of Rights was first presented to congress.
- City Hall Subway Station
New York City’s City Hall subway station is a mythical destination that is barely accessible. Visitors and New Yorkers hardly imagine that such a beautiful place was once the center of attraction when it came to the city’s transit system. In some ways, this jewel is hidden in plain sight.
The subway station was once the southern terminus of the Interborough Rapid Transit system (IRT) line that ran to 145th Street and was designed as the crown jewel of the system. The station is a reflection of the values held by the City Beautiful architectural movement, which upheld that beautiful architecture could help create a more civil society. The station is also an icon of a period when businessmen and industrialists were trying to prove that they could compete on the same level as those in Europe – culturally.
- The US Custom House
Often overlooked by people mesmerized by the Statue of Liberty, the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House is a 1907 construction that stands at the same spot where the first Manhattan island settlement was set up. Cass Gilbert, drawing inspiration from Beaux Arts architecture, designed the building. When you get to the location, you are ushered in by huge sculptures that line the outside façade and that depict international commerce.
Inside, the building has a huge circular room lined with wood paneling and large murals by the famous Reginald Marsh. In addition, the building is also home to the National Museum of the American Indian. So, if you love history don’t forget about these 4 historical landmarks in New York City.