Castle Clinton, also known as Fort Clinton and previously Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort located in what is today Battery Park. The structure sits roughly two blocks west of where Fort Amsterdam was built in 1626. At the time, New York City was still named New Amsterdam. Construction on Castle Clinton started in 1808 and finished in 1811; it was built on a small artificial island just offshore. The structure was America’s first immigration station and predates Ellis Island. More than 8 million immigrants passed through Castle Clinton while entering the United States between 1855 and 1890.
For millions of immigrants, Ellis Island was the first view of America. Today, it is a moving experience for anyone wanting to learn more about that era in U.S. history. The island, part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, sits in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Though quiet today, it’s amazing to think of what the Great Hall was like as new arrivals to the country passed through in search of a better life here.
When it opened in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the world’s longest suspension span. The bridge was named after Giovanni da Verrazano. In 1524, he became the first European explorer to sail into New York Harbor. Its 693-foot-tall towers are 1 5/8 inches farther apart at their tops than at their bases because the 4,260-foot-long required engineers to take into the account curvature of the Earth. Each tower weighs 27,000 tons and is held together with three million rivets and one million bolts. Seasonal contractions and expansions of the steel cables cause the double-decked roadway to be 12 feet lower in the summer than in the winter.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum features an incredible collection of military and civilian aircraft. The museum housed on a historic aircraft carrier at Pier 86 at 46th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
The Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral is perhaps the most recognized church in the United States. Construction of the cathedral began in 1858 but was halted during the Civil War. It resumed in 1865, and the cathedral was completed in 1878. It was dedicated on May 25, 1879. The church’s spires were added in 1888.
Housed in the former Court Street station, the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn features exhibits that tell the story of the subway, from its earliest construction to the modern cars that transport tourists and commuters alike every day. The museum opened in 1976. In many ways, the centerpiece of the museum is the station itself. Court Street opened as the terminus for trains on the IND Fulton Street Line. However, it closed in 1946 due to low ridership numbers and sat largely vacant for three decades. It was used at times as a filming location for movies set in New York City. On July 4, 1976, the temporary New York City Transit Exhibit opened in the Court Street, coinciding with the United States Bicentennial celebration. The exhibit proved to be so popular the exhibit was made permanent.
The New York Mets’ Hall of Fame & Museum showcases the team’s five-plus-decade history. The 3,700 square-foot museum, located next to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, features exhibits, photos and videos from the Mets’ history. The museum, on the first base side of Citi Field, is open to fans with game tickets. Some notable artifacts include a Casey Stengel jersey from 1962, Tom Seaver’s 1969 Cy Young Award and the 1986 Game 6 World Series ball that Mookie Wilson hit and “trickled” through the legs of Boston Red Sox’s first baseman Bill Bucker. The museum also features an exhibit about Mr. Met and the “Ring of Champions” display dedicated to the Mets’ 1969 and 1986 World Champion teams. The Mets Hall of Fame includes 21 members. The Mets began to play as an expansion team in 1962.
Battery Park is a 25-acre public park located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. The area has been known as The Battery since the 17th century. The area was so-named because of artillery batteries that were positioned there in the city’s early years to protect the settlement.
Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is one of the world’s preeminent cultural institutions and features 45 permanent exhibition halls. The museum is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation’s 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt’s enduring legacy of conservation. The museum’s five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world.
The Brooklyn Bridge is perhaps the most famous bridge in the United States. The hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge spans the East River and was completed in 1883 to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge was originally known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and the East River Bridge.
Sept. 11, 2001, was one of the darkest days in the city’s history. The city persevered and rebuilt. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum commemorates that fateful day. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum, located in the basement and footprint of the former Twin Towers, is a poignant reminder of the day, with exhibits bringing to life the heartbreaking, heartwarming and heroic stories that emerged from the devastation and destruction.
The historic Fraunces Tavern played a prominent role before, during and after the American Revolution. The edifice was a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British and housed federal offices during the early days of the republic. Downstairs is a tavern, and a museum is located upstairs. Exhibits include a lock of hair and a tooth from George Washington.
Standing on the banks of New York Harbor near the Staten Island Ferry terminal is Postcards, a pair of 30-foot-tall white marble wing sculptures that frame lower Manhattan. Designed by New York architect Masayuki Sono and built in 2004, the memorial honors 274 Staten Islanders: those killed at the World Trade Center, one passenger killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pa., and a resident killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
There are some places that are truly unparalleled, whether it’s the atmosphere, the history or the general experience. While New York City as a whole falls into that category, Grand Central Terminal does as well. The New York Central built the grand terminal, which opened in 1913. An estimated 21.6 million people visit the terminal annually, making it the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world, according to Travel + Leisure magazine. Even if travel plans in New York don’t call for an entry into or departure from Grand Central, a visit to the Terminal is well worth the sidetrack, no matter how far out of the way it might be.
What is Coney Island and how do you describe it in 100 or so words? It’s a neighborhood, an entertainment district and a popular tourist destination. Maybe more than anything, Coney Island is quintessentially New York City. It transformed into a seaside resort by the middle of the 19th century, and amusement parks followed a few years later. While Coney Island’s popularity waned following World War II, the area has experienced a resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to the opening of the MCU Park in 2001.
The historic Trinity Church is a parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York and located near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The first Trinity Church was built on Wall Street in 1698 and faced the Hudson River. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1776 during the Revolutionary War. In 1790, the second Trinity Church was completed and faced Wall Street. It featured a 200-foot-tall steeple. The third and current Trinity Church was built between 1839 and 1846.
The High Line opened in 2009. The now-popular park was built atop a former elevated New York Central Railroad spur known as the West Side Line. The High Line today features nearly 1.5 miles of elevated trails and provides roughly 5 million people annually a unique view of New York City. The path runs Gansevoort Street, located three blocks south of 14th Street in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Convention Center.
Flushing Meadows–Corona Park is the largest park in Queens and the fourth-largest public park in New York City. The 897-acre park was created for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, and it later hosted the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The park is perhaps best know for the New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere, the giant spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth.
The Met was established in 1870 and since that time has built one of the best museum collections in the world. Its collection includes works from such renowned artists as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, to name just a few. One incredible piece is by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, depicting Gen. George Washington leading his trips across the Delaware River.
There is no more well-known symbol of New York City or the country, for that matter than Lady Liberty herself. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed colossal neoclassical sculpture, while Gustave Eiffel oversaw its construction. The Statue of Liberty, which sits on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886. For anyone who doesn’t want to take the boat to the island should consider the Staten Island Ferry for great views. It won’t cost a dime.
Central Park might be the most famous urban park in the world. City officials established the park in 1857 on 778 acres of city-owned land. The park was expanded to its current size of 843 acres in 1873. More than 40 million people visit the park every year. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the park a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
The National Lighthouse Museum officially opened in 2015 as a dedication to the history of Lighthouses and their keepers. Located in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island in New York City, the museum is located on the former site of the United States Lighthouse Service General Depot.
New York City has so many landmarks that serve as the “face” of the city, but one of the few free ones is the Staten Island Ferry. Ferries shuttled people back and forth across New York Harbor since the 18th century. Today, the Ferry between St. George on Staten Island and Lower Manhattan has a way of life for the 19 million people who commute between the two destinations each year. Eight boats make up the Staten Island Ferry fleet, making a combined 33,000 25-minute one-way trips between the two boroughs. Arguably, the ferry offers the best view of the Statue of Liberty.
Times Square is said to be the most visited place in the world. More than 360,000 people pass through Times Square every day (or more than 131 million per year) for their brush with Elmo or another creepy character. Originally named Longacre Square, the area was renamed after The New York Times relocated to the newly erected Times Building (today One Times Square) in 1904. Approximately 22 cents out of every dollar spent by visitors in New York City is spent within Times Square. The famed New Year’s Eve ball drop was first held on Dec. 31, 1907.
The General Grant National Memorial is the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia. The memorial is the largest mausoleum in North America and honors the man who credited with ending the bloodiest conflict in American history as Commanding General of the Union Army. After his Presidency, Grant settled in New York City and died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885. He was laid to rest in New York City on Aug. 8, 1885. More than a million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony of Grant’s Tomb on April 27, 1897.
The 9.6-acre Bryant Park is unique in that it is part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation but privately managed. Located adjacent to the New York City Public Library, the history of the park dates to 1686, when Thomas Dongan, New York’s colonial governor, designated the area a public space. George Washington’s troops crossed the area while retreating from the Battle of Long Island in 1776, and in 1823, the site was designated a potter’s field (bodies were moved to Wards Island in 1840). The first park at this site, Reservoir Square, opened in 1847. The park was renamed in honor of New York Evening Post editor and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant in 1884.
The four-acre Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is located and named in honor of the Four Freedoms President Franklin D. Roosevelt highlighted in his Jan. 6, 1941, State of the Union address. The park is located next to the historic Smallpox Hospital in New York City at the southernmost point of Roosevelt Island. Architect Louis Kahn designed the park. The park was designed in the early 1970s and completed in 2012.
The Empire State Building is arguably the most iconic representation of Gotham City. The 102-story-tall skyscraper was built in 1930-31 and opened on May 1, 1931. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1954 and today is the second-tallest skyscraper in New York and the fifth-tallest completed in the country. The view from the observation deck is awesome, to say the least.
St. Paul’s Chapel was completed in 1766 as a “chapel of ease” for those who could not make it to the Parish of Trinity Church. Ten years later, the church survived the Great Fire of New York. In 1789, George Washington attended services here on Inauguration Day and continued to attend the church for two more years as the city served as the nation’s capital. Years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, the church was only yards away from the worst terrorist attack on American soil.