New York City is one of the most exciting cities that you are ever going to get a chance to visit in your lifetime. It is where things are happening in the United States today. Celebrities have homes there. Socialites throw parties there. Business deals happen there. Fashion trends are set there. And everyone who lives there is one step ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to trends of all kinds. Because of that it can be really difficult not to spend an entire New York City trip exploring the most modern attractions that you can find.
However, doing that alone is a mistake. Yes, there is a lot to see in New York that’s brand spanking new. However New York is a city which is rich with history and that history is important to the history of the United States. In order to really get a full experience out of a trip to New York, you will want to make sure that you fit in some trips to historic areas in addition to those modern activities you’ll be engaging in during your stay.
Here are some of the New York historic landmarks that ought to make the final cut on your New York City itinerary:
The Smithsonian. This term refers to a large number of different museums all associated with one complex. There are many different museums within The Smithsonian that are of historic note. For example, the National Design Museum includes the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, the former home of a man who was quite important to the history of New York City. There are historic artifacts stored at all of the different museums that are part of this complex, each of which offers a different type of insight into the history of New York City.
Carnegie Hall. It may not be the mansion of Andrew Carnegie that you want to see. It may be the place where his life’s work continues to be honored to this day. Carnegie Hall was built at the end of the nineteenth century as an outstanding concert hall and is a place where accomplished musicians still show off their skills to an appraising audience. See a performance here if you get the chance or just go to see where those performances are held.
The Met. People who are more interested in the visual arts than they are in the performing arts are going to want to make sure to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are numerous art museums and galleries to visit in New York City but this one has been an important part of the history of art in New York for a long time. It has over two million pieces of art in its permanent collection so you’re never going to get bored no matter how many different times you come here during New York vacations.
African Burial Ground National Monument. This is a historic landmark that was only discovered in relatively recent years. It was in the early 1990’s that construction turned up the remains of hundreds of slaves that had been buried underneath the city several hundred years before. What to do with the situation became quite controversial and stirred up issues of race which affect our country even in modern times. Ultimately, they ended up creating a national monument to honor this part of American / African-American history. The visitor’s center at this monument allows visitors to get a basic education in that history.
Stonewall Inn. There are many different landmarks in New York City which are a testament to the diversity of the city. This is one of them. It’s the site of the infamous Stonewall Riots of the 1960’s in which the city’s gay population stood up for its civil rights and started some serious changes towards more progressive human treatment.
Union Square. It may be Times Square that you think of heading to when you visit New York City but it’s Union Square which has really been important to the history of the city. It has been the site of numerous political rallies and social cause events. In recent history, it was a gathering place for people during 9/11. That doesn’t mean that it’s a dreary or intense place though. In fact, you might want to go here just to attend the Greenmarket which is a Farmers’ Market that draws in both locals and travelers several times each week.
Brooklyn Bridge. You won’t be able to miss the bridges of New York City but make it a point to capture a couple of pictures of this one. It’s the largest suspension bridge in the world and is also one of the oldest bridges of its kind. It is a famous icon of New York City and has been featured in numerous films and television shows over the years. There is a pedestrian walkway for those interested in standing on the bridge and it is also possible to bicycle or drive over the bridge.
Empire State Building. There are many, many buildings in New York City which are worth seeing as historic landmarks. But if for some reason you are only going to get to see one of them, you should make sure that it’s this famous building. It is the tallest building still standing in New York City today and it’s one of the tallest buildings in the world. New York is all about skyscrapers so it makes sense to go see the most famous one of all.
Rockefeller Center, named after another of those famous New Yorkers, is an area of buildings that you’ll want to make a stop at during your stay in the city. It is the home to many smaller landmark destinations that you can highlight on your walking map when you head to the area. For example, you might want to check out Radio City Music Hall while you’re there. The GE Building, the famous book publishers that line the Avenue of Americas and the statues and artwork throughout the center are other points of interest that may draw your attention here.
Greenwich Village. This is a neighborhood in New York City which is important to the history of the entire nation. It was the home of social movements in the 1950’s and 1960’s including the Beat Movement that started in San Francisco. People who are interested in musical history and the history of the 1960’s revolution are going to find that there are numerous little spots within this neighborhood that are worth checking out.
You can go to New York City and be as modern as you want to be. You can head to cutting-edge restaurants for trendy meals. You can buy designer clothing in fancy new stores. And you can pick up souvenirs that will set trends in your hometown when your vacation has come to an end. But you shouldn’t ever forget that there is a lot to be seen in New York City that isn’t all about being modern. The history of the city is an integral part of the history of our country and should be explored by anyone who has the opportunity to spend time in this high-energy city.
Photo credit: paalia