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  • May 19, 2021
  • 15 min to read

Hidden Gems in NYC

Hidden Gems in NYC

New York is a mecca of action, life, history and romance. It calls to travelers, artists and creatives from all over the world who flock to it to find pieces of inspiration.

If you’re planning to visit New York for the first time, you most likely are going to build a large list of must-see places.

That’s why the Photolemur's photo enhancer team has done some digging and compiled a list of 15 secret spots to add to your itinerary.

1. Greenacre Park

In Midtown East you’ll find a waterfall in the middle of Manhattan. Venture to 217 East 51st Street with a good book, a magazine and of course — your camera — to capture some moments of stillness and peacefulness amount the hustle and bustle of New York City. 

2. Roosevelt Island Hospital Ruins

Designated as an official New York City landmark, Roosevelt Island is home to a somewhat eerie yet simultaneously beautiful structure — the castle-like building ruins of what was once Roosevelt Island Hospital, a place where smallpox victims could be kept away from the public.

3. Rockefeller Center’s Rooftop Garden

Image via   620 Loft and Gallery

Rockefeller Center is a popular spot to photograph as is — but hidden atop the iconic landmark is a rooftop garden that can be viewed while on the official Rockefeller Center Tour (or, if you decide to host a wedding or event there).

4. 520 Madison Ave. (And a Piece of the Berlin Wall)

To see a secret piece of New York that’s not from New York at all — visit 520 Madison to see a chunk of the wall that used to separate East and West Berlin. It’s located around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art and was pouched directly from the East German government by Jerry Speyer, a real estate mogul. Stop by the lobby with your camera to give it a visit. 

5. Dead Horse Bay

In Brooklyn, on Rockaway Inlet, you’ll find the key to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Grab your camera for a unique and secret photo opportunity where old bottles wash up on to shore — offering opportunities for vintage and unique images. 

6. The Henry C. Frick Collection Museum (And the Secret Bowling Alley)

In order to see this secret spot, you’ll most likely need to be a member of the museum yourself (or perhaps, tag along with someone who is a member). The museum rests in New York’s Upper East Side and is home to 16 galleries. The super secret is that in 1914, a private bowling alley was built in the cellar of the mansion.

7. Vinegar Hill

In Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill, you’ll find quaint streets of cobblestone and homes that were built in the 1800’s. It’s a waterfront enclave with charm and storefronts. Some say it’s sleepy — more of a neighborhood than a tourist attraction. But a surprising and architecturally cool place to gather your photo footage, indeed.

8. 5 Pointz

5 Pointz at 45-46 Davis St., also known as “graffiti mecca” is a former industrial complex where it’s legal to graffiti. It brings in artists from around the globe and is a colorful and creative place to snap some shots of what could one day turn into a full street art museum.

9. The Whispering Spot at The Grand Central Terminal 

In front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Grand Central Terminal you’ll find an archway. If two people stand at opposite ends of the archway and talk into the wall — they’ll be able to hear what one another is saying on the other side. They call it the whispering gallery — and it’s a popular spot in New York for marriage proposals. 

10. Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Venture to 2453 Arthur Kill Road in southwestern Staten Island for a unique and interesting vision — about 100 or so boats in a family run salvage yard known as the Staten Island Boat Graveyard. If you’re willing to make the trek to take a peek, you’ll be granted a creepy look into the past and the opportunity for some eerie and incredible images. 

11. Washington Mews

Visit this picturesque and quaint gated street in Greenwich Village once home to Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (founder of the Whitney Museum). Though it’s closed to the public and now leased by NYU for faculty, many folks still manage to sneak past the gates and get that social media shot they’ve been dreaming of.

12. High Bridge

This is the bridge that connects the Bronx and Manhattan — and it hasn’t been used since 1970. You'll find that in addition to connecting the cities, it also serves as a gateway to some sensational green forests outside the city. Perfect for wandering with your camera and a coffee.

13. Red Hook Grain Elevator

Venture to Brooklyn to Gowanus Canal — an abandoned refinery factory where you’ll find beautiful views of the city skyline, 12 stories high. The terminal was built as part of Brooklyn’s waterfront and although nearby industrial era buildings have been demolished — this one has remained. 

14. Elevator Historical Society Museum

Founded by elevator history expert Patrick Carrajat, this one-of-a-kind museum features older elevator equipment from his personal collection as well as historical literature, photos of early elevators and antique name plaques. 

15. Hallett Nature Sanctuary

In Central Park, you’ll find a secret four-acre piece of land that was preserved as a bird sanctuary in 1934 by parks commissioner Robert Moses. For almost 70 years, it remained untouched but has since been cleaned up and was opened to the public on a limited basis in 2013.

As Tom Wolfe once said, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

New York bursts with life, art and wonder — and if you’re visiting as a first-timer, we know you’ll have a trip filled with creative inspiration and (sometimes secret) photo-worthy moments.

Happy travels! We can’t wait to see what you capture.

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