New York City

Things you didn't know about New York City

No matter how long you've lived in New York City or how many times you've visited, there will always be secrets of the city waiting to be uncovered. From hidden subway art to discovering the city's geographic center, here are 10 things you may not have known about the Big Apple.

  • 1. A founding father’s house is in the middle of a Harlem park.

    A founding father’s house is in the middle of a Harlem park.

    Photo by Lee Snider / Alamy

    You can barely walk a block in New York City without stumbling on a historic building—meaning some of them pop up in odd places. Case in point: Hamilton Grange, the former of home of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton built the Federal-style home in 1802, but died in that famous duel with Aaron Burr two years later. The house was moved from its original location to Convent Avenue in 1889, and made the journey to its current resting place in St. Nicholas Park in 2008. Now that it’s perched at the top of the park, it faces Hamilton Terrace and a church that, coincidentally, has a statue of Hamilton in its courtyard.

  • 2. You can climb to the top of one of the world’s largest cathedrals.

    You can climb to the top of one of the world’s largest cathedrals.

    Robert Harding Productions/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

    The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (at Amsterdam and 112th Street) is one of New York's grandest buildings, and also happens to be one of the world's largest cathedrals. While there's much to explore there—including a Keith Haring triptych and a massive peace fountain outside—the coolest way to see the chapel is on one of its Vertical Tours. These explorations take visitors to the roof of the building—you actually get to stand on a buttress along the way—and focus on the cathedral's history and architecture.

  • 3. Remnants of the World’s Fair still exist in Queens.

    Remnants of the World’s Fair still exist in Queens.

    Photo courtesy the Queens Museum

    Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens was the site of both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, and the park's development is directly correlated to those massive events. But after the second fair closed in 1965, many of the buildings and pavilions were demolished. A few still remain: the New York Hall of Science and the Queens Museum are both located in buildings from the World's Fair; the New York State Pavilion still stands, though it's long been neglected; and a Buckminster Fuller–designed geodesic dome now houses birds at the Queens Zoo.

  • 4. There’s a train car perched on top of a department store—well, sort of.

    There’s a train car perched on top of a department store—well, sort of.

    Photo courtesy NobleImages / Alamy

    Head to the sixth floor of Bloomingdale's and you'll find an old-fashioned, French train car. Well, not exactly: Le Train Bleu is a replica of one of the cars on Calais-Mediterranée Express, which operated in France for more than 100 years. Unsurprisingly, the menu is French-inspired, with dishes like moules frites, a croque madame, and salade nicoise on offer. And the novelty of dining in a vintage train car—complete with overhead carriers, old-timey posters, and tables lined with white tablecloths—can't be beat.

  • 5. Not everything from old Penn Station is lost.

    Not everything from old Penn Station is lost.

    Photo by Patti McConville / Alamy

    Preservationists and history buffs still lament the destruction of the grand old Penn Station, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece built by the OG starchitect team of McKim, Mead, and White. When the station was torn down in 1963, nearly all of its features—the gorgeous main hall, with its soaring archways, and Rafael Guastavino’s beautiful tiled vaults, among others—were destroyed. But some remnants of the old structure remain. On the Seventh Avenue side of the current Penn Station, you’ll find two large eagle statues; the pair once stood on top of the old train depot, along with 20 similar sculptures.

    See more surprising facts about New York City.

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