10 Most Secretive and Cool Places to See and Visit in NYC (with Videos!)

Most Secretive and Cool Places to See and Visit in NYC
Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash.com

New York City is a metropolis that never sleeps, with countless attractions, landmarks and activities to keep visitors and locals entertained. But beyond NYC’s iconic sights like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, there are also many hidden gems and secret spots that only the most adventurous and curious can discover. Here are some of the most secretive and cool places to see and visit in NYC.

1. Brooklyn’s Secret Subway Exit

This seemingly realistic townhouse at 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn is actually a subway exit. It was built in 1908 as a ventilation shaft and emergency exit for the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. The windows are blacked out and the door is locked, but if you look closely, you can see the subway grates on the sidewalk and hear the rumbling of trains below.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


2. World Trade Center Sphere

This bronze sculpture by Fritz Koenig was once located in the plaza between the Twin Towers, where it survived the 9/11 attacks with only minor damage. It was moved to Battery Park as a temporary memorial, where it remained for 16 years until it was relocated again to Liberty Park in 2017. The sphere stands as a poignant representation of unwavering strength and optimism amidst the depths of adversity.

Watch this to get a glimpse:


3. Midtown East’s Greenacre Park

Yes, there is an actual waterfall in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. This hidden oasis at 217 East 51st Street is a privately owned public space that features a 25-foot-high cascading waterfall, a lush garden, a snack bar and seating areas. It’s a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some tranquility.

Watch this video to learn more:


4. Roosevelt Island Hospital Ruins

Roosevelt Island was once home to several institutions for the sick and the poor, including a smallpox hospital that operated from 1856 to 1875. The hospital was abandoned and left to decay, becoming a haunting reminder of the island’s past. Today, the Gothic Revival ruins are stabilized and open to the public as a historic landmark.

Watch this video to learn more:


5. The East Village’s C-Squat House

This former tenement building at 155 Avenue C is one of the last remaining squats in the East Village, a neighborhood that was once known for its radical politics and counterculture. The squatters have been living there since 1989, resisting eviction attempts and creating a community of artists, activists and musicians. The building is also home to the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, which showcases the history of grassroots movements in the area.

Watch this video to learn more:


6. Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill

This tiny neighborhood in Brooklyn is a hidden gem that feels like a step back in time. It’s named after a battle site in Ireland where Irish rebels fought against British forces in 1798. The cobblestone streets are lined with historic buildings, some dating back to the early 1800s. The area has a quaint and quiet charm that contrasts with the surrounding urban development.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


7. Cobble Hill Tunnel

This tunnel under Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is the oldest subway tunnel in the world, built in 1844 as part of the Long Island Rail Road. It was sealed off in 1861 and forgotten for over a century, until a local historian named Bob Diamond rediscovered it in 1980. He led tours of the tunnel until 2010, when they were shut down by the city for safety reasons. The tunnel is still there, but access is restricted.

Watch this to learn more:


8. High Bridge

This bridge connects Manhattan and the Bronx over the Harlem River, and is the oldest standing bridge in New York City. It was built in 1848 as part of the Croton Aqueduct system that brought fresh water to the city. It was closed to pedestrians in 1970 due to deterioration but reopened in 2015 after a major restoration project. The bridge offers stunning views of the river and the city skyline.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


9. City Hall Station

This subway station under City Hall Park was once one of the most beautiful stations in New York City, with vaulted ceilings, skylights, chandeliers and colorful tiles. It opened in 1904 as part of the first subway line in the city, but closed in 1945 due to low ridership and inability to accommodate longer trains. The station is still intact, but not open to the public. However, you can catch a glimpse of it if you stay on board the downtown-bound 6 train as it loops around to go back uptown.

Watch this:


10. Daphne

This new subterranean spot under Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown is a speakeasy-style nightclub that features a silk pink flower installation, dazzling disco balls and a dance floor. The club offers bottle service, cocktails, and music by DJs and live performers. To enter, you need to find the hidden door behind a curtain in the hotel lobby and descend the stairs to the basement.

Watch this to get a glimpse:


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These are just some of the most secretive and cool places to see and visit in NYC, but there are many more to explore if you’re willing to look beyond the obvious and the ordinary. New York City is full of surprises, and you never know what you might find if you keep your eyes open and your curiosity alive.