If you’ve grown tired of the more well-known attractions in NYC (as well as the crowds), the city has some lesser known and strange attractions that are worth seeing. Some of these are hidden in plain sight and might take a bit of searching to find. If you feel up for an adventure, these secret NYC attractions are well worth a visit.
1. Track 61 under Grand Central
New York is known for its extensive underground system. It’s no surprise so that there are a few secret abandoned subway stations. Track 61 is one that has to be seen. It was built to allow Presidents and other impotent dignitaries to move without the public noticing them and enter the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In 1944, by Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to keep his polio secret from the public. You can still find an old trail car tucked away in the powerhouse.
2. Tribeca’s Dream House
Those in need of a meditative art space should check out the Dream House, located off Church Street in Tribeca. For a small price, visitors can spend as long as they want in this purple-lit incense smelling room. Looped, minimalist music plays inside which changes based on whether visitors are standing or lying down.
3. The Houdini Museum
Did you know there’s a Houdini museum located just around the corner from Penn Station? To find this nondescript museum you need to go through a lobby on 7th avenue and take the elevator to the third floor. It first opened in 2012 and houses a wide collection of Houdini related memorabilia. Escape tools, restraints, and promotional posters fill the walls and glass cases. The best part? It’s free.
4. Roosevelt Island’s Smallpox Hospital and Cat Sanctuary
Built-in 1856 in the Gothic Revival style, this abandoned and spooky hospital still stands on the island. It treated and quarantined people with smallpox before eventually falling into disuse. In 1975 the city declared it a landmark. If you’re expecting to find ghosts, you’re more likely to find stray cats.
5. The Freedom Tunnel
Long a fixture of NYC urban explorer lore, the Freedom Tunnel can be found under Riverside Park from West 72nd to West 122nd Streets. Regular trains operated through the tunnel until 1980 when the track was closed off. After that, it became a haven for graffiti artists and homeless alike. It gets its name from Artist Chris “Freedom” Pape, who first came here in 1974 and spray-painted artwork throughout. In 1991, Amtrak began using the tunnel again and started kicking people out. It still draws lots of curious visitors, but it’s no longer the city-under-the-city that it once was.
6. Radio City’s Secret Apartment
Radio City Music Hall has been a New York Icon since it first opened in 1932. It’s Art Deco style with luxurious drapes, gold leaf and incredible murals draw crowds of visitors every year. What’s less well known is that it houses a secret apartment. It was built for Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, as a thank you for all the groundbreaking shows he put on there. The visually stunning room hasn’t been lived since Roxy died in 1936, but the room still exists. It can only be rented out for the most luxurious events.