Secret Spots in NYC You Need to See

Each city has its own set of ‘secret spots’ that most locals know about and most tourists only dream of seeing during their visit. These secret spots, or hidden gems, are beyond the best hole-in-the-wall eateries or pop-up boutiques in the each region, they are about the natural scenes, jaw-dropping viewpoints, and awe-inspiring architectural pieces and landmarks that make each place so special.

This month we are featuring what seems like the opposite of secret spot, New York City, for our Secret Spots blog. While it may seem that every square inch of the city has already been explored 10 times over, there are a select handful of spots that very few people, especially tourists, know about.

Here are our top-secret spots in New York City

  1. Staten Island Tugboat Graveyard
    On the southwest side of Staten Island, you can find the Arthur Kill Shipyard or Tugboat Graveyard. This strict 'no trespassing' zone holds rusted ecosystems of three dozen ghostly ships, some old military vessels from post-WWII, others simply local recreational boats. While certainly not on most visitors' top sightseeing list, it is a forgotten treasure worth seeing (from afar)!

  2. Brooklyn Subway Exit
    Walk past the 3-story brownstone house on Joralemon Street near the East River and you probably won't notice anything too out of the ordinary, minus the odd blackout windows. This Brooklyn Heights spot is actually the home of an NYC subway fan plant (ventilation building) and subway emergency exit, however. Established here in 1847, this 'secret' spot is not accessible to the public, inside a labyrinth of metal staircases and hallways used by the subway system.

  3. Cobble Hill Tunnel
    Right below Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn sits another one of New York City's most secretive features, the Cobble Hill Tunnel. Belonging to the Long Island Rail Road in the past, this 2,517 foot runs from Columbia Street to Boerum Place and was first created in 1844 to alleviate some congestion issues up above. The architecture of the tunnel itself is quite amazing, a good mix of ancient Roman and Queen Anne styles.

  4. Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital
    While this island, in general, isn't the most secret thing we could bring up in NYC, the abandon smallpox hospital that sits on it is! Tourists can enjoy a tram ride over to the island daily, and often do, but not many know much about the hospital scene on the island. Once called 'Blackwell's Island', this 1836 established hospital was used to quarantine people with the disease. At its peak time, 1856-1875) Renwick saw over 7,000 patients a year, though the building slowly became less necessary and was deemed useless by 1950.

  5. Blockhouse
    Of course, you are going to know all about New York City's most popular urban oasis, Central Park, but what about the second oldest structure within the park, the Blockhouse? This wartime relic is located in the northern section of Central Park, first used in 1812 as a defense against the British. There was no immediate threat to the area, however, and the structure was never used. Today you can tour the spot if Urban Park Rangers are offering one, otherwise, you can just ogle from afar.

  6. Berlin Wall
    Amazingly you don't travel too far to see an iconic piece of Berlin's history, you can actually see a portion of the wall right here in NYC! Right on Madison Avenue sits 5 slabs of the Berlin Wall, one side left blank and the other decorated with graffiti by German artists Thierry Noire and Kiddy City. Talk about one seriously amazing 'secret spot'!

  7. New York Earth Room
    This is certainly one of the most unique secret spots we have found in NYC, the New York Earth Room holding 280,000 pounds of dirt within their 3600 square foot SoHo gallery space. This 'art display' was first created by Walter De Maria in 1977 as an escape from the hustle and bustle of NY street life, the only sight and smell you have inside the area that of rich soil. The 22-inch deep layer of dirt gets watered regularly and is the only one of its kind left, with two more in Germany originally.

  8. Green Acre Park
    New York City's Green Acre Park is the very definition of a secret spot, this lush escape spot located in the midst of all the madness in Midtown East. Enjoy gorgeous greenery and the sights and sounds of the waterfall as you sip some coffee or enjoy some good company. The park is located on East 51st Street!

For more great NYC site suggestions visit our New York City page.

For more great Secret Spots take a look at our Secret Spots in Missouri blog.