Unique Places in New York City

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in New York City

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    Grove Court: a Charming Hidden Space

    by von.otter Written Apr 8, 2013

    Grove Court can be found midway between Hudson Street and Bedford Street on Grove Street. Behind a wrought iron gate, that is supported by brick pillars, is a row of perfectly-preserved two-story Federal-styled townhouses and some grander Greek Revival-styled ones.

    This is one of New York’s wonderful hidden spaces; it is a quiet retreat for its lucky residents. Looking through the gate, at the six mid-19th century houses the visitor is transported back a century and a half. Samuel Cocks, the enterprising grocer who owned Cocks & Bowron grocery store at #18 Grove Street, developed the odd-sized lot into what he called backhouses. Cocks intended the simple dwellings for working class families with the goal of increasing his grocery business.

    Constructed between 1848 and 1854, O’Henry set his short story “The Last Leaf” at Grove Court. Today the area is very exclusive, ironic considering its lowly beginnings. Although I lived mere blocks from the Court for decades, I never tire of stopping at those iron gates and peering inside at a page from yesterday.

    Because of the irregular property lines in the Village a vacant seemingly unusable lot was left over as the Federal rowhouses sprouted up along Grove and Bedford Streets. A narrow passageway remained between numbers 10 and 12 Grove.

    Grove Court, NYC, April 2013 Grove Court, NYC, April 2013 Grove Court, NYC, April 2013 Grove Court, NYC, April 2013 Grove Court, NYC, April 2013
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    New York’s Bravest: Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24

    by von.otter Written Mar 22, 2013

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    When fire is cried and danger is neigh,
    “God and the firemen” is the people’s cry;
    But when ‘tis out and all things righted,
    God is forgotten and the firemen slighted.
    —Author unknown, from ‘The Fireman’s Journal,’ 18.October.1879

    Hook-and-ladder Truck #5 and Engine #24, located at 227 Sixth Avenue in SoHo, were among the first units to arrive at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Eleven firemen from this company never returned. Fitting tributes to these men who gave their lives have been put in place at the firehouse.

    Stop by the firehouse; the overhead door is often open. Offer these men a word of thanks for their everyday service; and especially for their contribution on 9|11.

    Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24, NYC, March 2010 Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24, NYC, March 2010 Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24, NYC, March 2010 Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24, NYC, March 2010 Hook & Ladder #5, Engine #24, NYC, March 2010
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    NYC’s Painted Signs

    by von.otter Updated Mar 14, 2013

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    Hand-painted signs, usually on the side of a brick building, are a remnant of New York’s early consumer culture. With the 21st century’s high-impact LED video advertising and the cheapness of printed vinyl billboards, the craft of hand-painted signs has declined.

    Faded reminders of these ambassadors of yesteryear’s advertising can still be seen throughout the city. These examples can be found in Greenwich Village, SoHo and Old Garment District.

    Bigelow’s Pharmacy has been in business since Martin Van Buren was president, and its customers have included Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Eleanor Roosevelt. To attract ordinary customers, Bigelow’s, on Sixth Avenue near West Eighth and West Ninth Streets, advertises itself on the side of store’s building. It’s still in pretty good shape, with a portrait of the founder, Clarence Otis Bigelow.

    Emil Talamini Real Estate once had its offices at 450 Sixth Avenue, where this ad can be see, just barely, on the side of the building. The ad includes their old-style phone number, ALgonquin 4-1817.

    Kopper’s Chocolate (http://www.kopperschocolate.com) is still in business, as is Bigelow’s Pharmacy. Their simple but boldly painted sign appears on the side of their building on Greenwich Village’s Clark Street, just west of Hudson Street.

    Located at 175 Spring Street, Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware is a rare sight amongst the stylish designer boutiques in SoHo. The colorful and lively painted sign gives this bit of working-class New York a distinctive presence.

    The sign advertising Harris Suspenders Garters Belts (see photo #5) is on the side of a building at 46-50 W. 29th St. near Sixth Ave. The company had been in business since the 1890s in Williamsport, PA; in 1897 it moved to New York City. It was first located at 14th St. until the company moved in 1912 50 694 Broadway and then to 1230 Broadway in 1921.

    Painted Sign, New York City, December 2012 Painted Sign, New York City, December 2012 Painted Sign, New York City, December 2012 Painted Sign, New York City, December 2012 Painted Sign, New York City, February 2013
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    The Church of St. Joseph

    by von.otter Written Jan 22, 2013

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    The Church of Saint Joseph in Greenwich Village has been serving the community, from this building, since 1833. The church is also the University Church because the Dominican Friars serve the students of New York University, Cooper Union, the New School, Pace University.

    The classical lines of the building, combined with the enormous Doric columns, give a solid impression and reassurance. There is great beauty in its simplicity.

    Church of St. Joseph, New York Church of St. Joseph, New York Church of St. Joseph, New York Church of St. Joseph, New York Church of St. Joseph, New York
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    The slightly sinister sense of a Scooby Doo set

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 24, 2012

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    (work in progress)
    I'm a suggestible soul who's more than averagely susceptible to the sinister, and I find the juxtaposition of the spooky with aspects of childhood to be particularly unnerving. Even fairly benign circus clowns make my hackles rise, and hence the leering face of the Joker-like character that is the logo of the Coney Island funfair made me feel distinctly uneasy.

    The funfair at Coney Island on an overcast weekday afternoon in early October has a decided spooky air to it: all but deserted at that time of year, and with the background clatter of the old wooden rollercoaster, you have the distinct sense of having wandered unwittingly onto the set of a Scooby Doo movie. It's seemingly only a matter of time before you hear a yell of, "Yikes!" and get knocked sideways by Daphne, Velma and Fred with a monster in hot pursuit ... who will of course be duly unmasked to reveal his true identity (as he mutters bitterly, "I'd have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids ...").

    And of course, there's no doubt that Scooby and Shaggy would have won the 4th July hot dog eating competition at Nathan's hands down!

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    The 6BC Botanical Garden

    by t_cims Written Dec 3, 2011

    We call it a botanical garden because that's the traditional name for a garden where visitors come to learn about lots of plants from lots of places.

    6th Street in Manhattan's lively East Village, between Avenues B and C

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    Herald Square

    by leics Written Aug 5, 2011

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    My hotel was 30 seconds from Herald Square so it was really the first bit of Manhattan I explored.

    It's tiny, but a bit of green peace in the middle of mega-busy 6th Avenue (and right outside Mac's too). In common with many bits of Manhattan greenery it's been fairly recently restored an cared-for, with tables and chairs provided and strict rules about what you can and can't do in the area. It was lovely to see local people enjoying the shade, playing chess, reading books...but not so lovely, visiting early in the morning, to see so many streetpeople had obviously spent the night in the area. This is fine in the summer heat, perhaps...but what happens to them in the winter?

    The square is named after the New York Herald newspaper and the tiny park includes a memorial to one James Gordon Bennett (which, being a Brit, I found an amusing name) the founder of the newspaper, and to his son (same name) who carried it on. The memorial has a set of bells which toll the hours.

    Worth popping in if you are in the area...roughly where W 34th and 35th street cross 6th Avenue.

    Herald Square Bennett Memorial detail A small, green, shady spot. Memorial inscription
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    The Fred F French building

    by leics Written Aug 5, 2011

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    It's worth keeping an eye open for this building if you are in the Midtown 5th avenue area.

    The building dates from 1927 and has 38 stories (pretty impressive for its time).

    The golden glitz of its lobby is obvious, but do look up at its frontage for the Art Deco embellishments...and then walk a little south to get a good view of the rather lovely mosiacs on its sides. They are pretty high up, but use your camera zoom to get a better look.

    551 5th Avenue, corner of 45th Street.

    Lovely mosaic Art Deco frontage embellishment Glossy glitzy golden lobby
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    St Francis of Assisi church

    by leics Written Aug 4, 2011

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    I wandered into this church, drawn by the rather odd entry doors from 31st St (they looked like...well..fire exit doors) and by the waft of air conditioned cool air escaping from them.

    Once inside I found a calm, dim place which provided a much-needed few minutes of relief from the searing NY heat.

    This Roman Catholic church dates from 1844 (although a new church was built in 1892), which is really quite old in NY terms. I wish I'd had chance to explore it more...there are many lovely mosaics within...but there was a service in progress when I visited.

    I was very struck by the stained glass 9/11 memorial.

    Well worth popping inside if you are in the area.

    On West 31st street, midway between 6th and 7th avenues.

    9/11 memorial St Francis' exterior
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    Fantastic Manhattan Skyline Views

    by TexasDave Written Jun 26, 2011

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    Gantry Plaza State Park is an area of 12 acres on the waterfront in Queens that offers great views of most of the Manhattan skyline. Gantries are a type of lift or crane used in the 1920's to unload rail cars from barges. The area is basically a place to sit and enjoy the views. So far I haven't been able to go by at night time but that's my goal on a future trip.

    The park has been used in many TV commercials and some movies.

    This is a little off the average tourist's radar but not too difficult to get to, the nearest subway station is Vernon Blvd, Jackson Ave on the 7 line.

    Twilight View
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    Recall Why the Irish Came Here

    by PR-7 Updated Jun 2, 2011

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    In 1845 the population of Ireland was about eight million, and the population of the world was just about a billion. Today, the world population is about seven times larger than it was in 1845 -- and the population of Ireland is 25% SMALLER. What happened?

    This memorial is a reminder of the WHAT. Specifically, "The Great Hunger," when about one-eighth of the Irish population died, and another one-eighth left (including my gr-gr-great-grandfather) in what became known as "Famine Ships."

    If you can imagine one-eighth of a nation's entire population dying from hunger in the space of of about five years, or one-eighth of today's population of Mexico coming to America for a better life over that same short period; then you can imagine (1) the horror of the event and (2) the social and political dislocations (on BOTH sides of the Atlantic) resulting from this mass exodus. Since this is one of the largest mass migrations in modern history (if not all of HUMAN history), it is important to recall it.

    The site has three basic parts:
    1) a recreation of an abandoned Irish farm, or size one-fourth of an acre. This size was VERY deliberately chosen, as any Irish farmer with more land than that was declared ineligible to receive any kind of help.
    2) quotes about The Great Hunger, the immigration, Irish in America, and hunger in general.
    3) a walk up to a viewpoint of the river where hundreds of thousands of people arrived in Famine Ships.

    The Memorial is a fairly easy walk just west of Ground Zero, and can be viewed at all hours.

    View of Memorial from sidewalk Life amongst an abandoned farm
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    forlorn PCC trolley cars in SW Brooklyn

    by VZ-Pam Written May 15, 2011

    This place is wonderful & off the Beaten Path in Red Hook Brooklyn (South west Brooklyn)

    ALthough Red Hook is rated one of the worst USA neighborhood in the 1990s by LIFE Magazine, who knows in 20 years later, it slowly reemerged itself as a artist haven.

    Now you can find lots of abandoned warehouses become artists galleries and the best part of Red Hook is it appeared to be frozen in time for most of the area.

    Why ? because there is no subway system running to the community and there are only about 3 buses going there from Downtown Brooklyn or Carol Gardens plus the IKEA shuttle.

    I had taken the IKEA free shuttle bus from Borough Hall station in Downtown Brooklyn and walked around.

    These days there are lots of nice eateries there including a famous bakery for lemon meringue pies, plus a beer brewery.....

    I had seen some tourists there but like a few, as you can also see the statue of Liberty in the waterfront area.

    It is extremely not touristy and very good for taking photos of old abandoned warehouses plus these abandoned trolleys for display.

    Why were these trolleys here ? Because in the past few years (Now is 2011 May), a group was trying to revive the trolley car to run between Downtown Brooklyn to Red Hook. However the plan was officially killed off in April 2010 but you can still see the trolley tracks there.

    I had to mention Trolleys once roamed in Red Hook Brooklyn to Downtown Brooklyn, but you can only find traces of the left over antique rails in Red Hook. I had seen the remains in downtown Brooklyn 20 years ago outside Macy's, but now its gone :(

    Free exhibit at Red Hook outside of Fairway

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    The oldest surving bridge of NYC

    by VZ-Pam Written May 15, 2011

    No, it is not what you expected.
    The answer is The High Bridge in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

    High Bridge was built in the nineteenth century with the Old Croton Aqueduct, with once upon a time was the most complex advanced water delivery system in the 1840s. It delivers water from the Croton River to NYC and the High Bridge was built for people to commute between the Bronx county and the Manhattan Island.

    It is a historical landmark but I bet you will not see any tourists there on the High Bridge Park side in Manhattan. It is situatuated in Washington Heights where the area was the background of a famous Tony Award winning broadway musical show "Into the Heights" .

    A lot of tourists will not go there but if you want to meet locals and if you speaks spanish, it is a plus, as there are many many spanish restaurants there.

    A word of caution : The area may not seem safe for travelers or tourists at night if they are not used to urban city life.

    High Bridge & Old Croton Aquaduct
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    Bargain Shopping at Woodbury Commons

    by falexis Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Woodbury Commons is located an hour away from New York City, in Central Valley, NY, and offers a village of premium shopping outlets like Adidas, Saks, Chanel, and a plethora of others.

    I think your best transportation option to Woodbury Commons is by bus. They leave regularly from the Port Authority Terminal (West 42nd Street), so you shouldn't have a problem catching one. The bus to take is the Gray Line; you can either purchase your tickets at the station or online. The Gray Line's website also offers you options to add other touristic excursions to your total.

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    Statute of Liberty - The Symbol of New York City

    by Mikebb Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    You have most likely seen this Icon a thousand times in magazines and movies and when in New York you must see it close up - " Liberty Enlightening the World". It was a gift from the French to the American people to mark the US centennial in 1876. Erected on this site in 1886 it is 93 metres high and the right hand holds the torch which has a 24 carat gold leaf flame, whilst the left hand holds a book inscribed July 4th 1776.

    We took a 2 hour Circle Ferry Tour of Manhattan ( www.circleline.42.com ) and the ferry stopped for 5 minutes a few hundred metres from the statute, close enough for everyone to get a good view and take countless photos.

    Statute of Liberty Statute Of Liberty
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New York City Off The Beaten Path

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