Offbeat New York

New York City -- Manhattan Attractions: Art, History, Museums and More

Read about New York City's Free Attractions in one convenient article

Click on Click here for attractions map for a map of all the attractions. To locate an individual attraction on the map, click on the small Map It icon next to that attraction.

Please note that marker shows approximate placement and does not substitute for the actual address.

African Burial Ground
290 Broadway at Duane St
New York, NY 10048
Phone: 212-337-2001

Urban pre-Revolutionary African cemetery. Public art adjacent to the Burial Ground commemorates the site.There are six art pieces in the lobby of the building. Walk-in tours of these pieces and the history of the burial ground are available on Wednesdays noon to 4 pm. Group tours by reservation. Outreach is provided through film and slide-presentations to schools, libraries, and other organizations.
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American Folk Art Museum
45 West 53rd Street
New York NY 10019
Phone: 212-265-1040

The museum's collection of more than five thousand artworks span three centuries of American visual expression including portraits, quilts, and weathervanes to works by contemporary self-taught artists in a variety of media. The Henry Darger Study Center, established by the American Folk Art Museum in 2000, houses all four manuscripts and more than two of his dozen paintings. Full program of special exhibits.

Apollo Theater
253 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212 531-5300
This is it...the fabled Harlem theater with top entertainment. Since 1934, every Wednesday night is Amateur Night at 7:30PM. In addition, groups can make arrangements for tours of the legendary theater.

Battery Park City Parks
Lower Manhattan
Phone: 212 267-9700
This is definitely one of the quiet gems of New York City, and one of our favorite places. Battery Park City area is equal parts residential neighborhood, garden, and outdoor sculpture space running from the southern most tip of Manhattan up along the Hudson river until Chambers Street. It encompasses almost 30 acres of protected land, organically maintained by Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, filled with trees, shrubs, plants, walkways, flowers, and a free-form canvas of public art. From May through October there are music and dance events, walking tours of the art and the gardens, and special programs. A free guidebook called A Guide to Public Art in Battery Park City describes the 20 installations which range from quirky to thoughtful. There are also several museums in the area.
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Berlin Wall in NYC The Berlin Wall
520 Madison Avenue on 53rd Street

Not the whole wall, but definitely a piece of the wall, the Berlin Wall, that has found its way to NYC. Five original sections of The Wall, and a plaque. Our thanks to Rachel C. for this item

Carnegie Hall
57th Street & 7th Avenue
New York, New York

This is it -- the icon concert center of New York City (and perhaps the world). Sure you can catch great music, but you can also take a tour as well. Learn about the story of Andrew and Louise Carnegie, hear how the Hall was saved from demolition in 1960, and experience a century-long performance tradition that has showcased the world's finest artists—from Tchaikovsky to Mahler, from Horowitz to Callas to Bernstein, even Judy Garland and the Beatles. Come and share in the history of America's most famous concert hall. Call (212) 903-9765 for tour schedule updates and cancellations. Each tour lasts approximately one hour and departs from the main lobby.

Castle Clinton
1 New York Plaza
Originally built to defend New York at the time of the War of 1812, 8 million immigrants were admitted to the United States through Castle Clinton during the 19th Century. Castle Clinton represents not only the growth of New York City, the the growth of a Nation. the Castle has transformed over the years to welcome theater goers, immigrants, sightseers and now millions of visitors to New York Harbor.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street)
New York, NY 10025
Phone 212-932-7314 Public Education & Visitor Services Department: 212 932-7347

Described as the world's largest Gothic Cathedral, St. John the Divine remains unfinished. After over 100 years. The cornerstone was laid on December 27, 1892. According to their website, the Cathedral is now two-thirds complete. The Towers, the Transepts, the Great Crossing and the Choir roof remain to be completed. The most frequently asked question is "When will the Cathedral be finished?" Although no new construction is planned for the immediate future, efforts are underway to preserve the Cathedral and its auxilliary buildings for the enjoyment of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world for the centuries to come. The Cathedral however remains a vibrant and important part of New York City as a venue for a range of performances and fascinating tours. Vertical Tours on Saturdays at Noon and 2 PM are particularly intriguing. Climb 124 feet through spiral staircases to the top of the world's largest cathedral. Get a close look at the magnificent stained glass windows and study the grand architecture while standing on a buttress. The tour culminates on the roof with a wonderful view of the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan. Space limited to 10 people and reservations are recommended. Bring a flashlight. $15 per person; $10 per student/senior. For more information, call (212) 932-7347.

Central Park
It's the park, and a New York icon. Besides the strolling, and the iceskating, and the concerts, and plays, and special events, what else is there? Enjoy sculpture such as Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and Alice in Wonderland. Ride the Carousel (There has been a carousel in Central Park since 1871). Take a guided tour. Central Park Conservancy Tours allow visitors to discover the park's history, ecology, and design on free, volunteer-led walking tours. Read more at Central Park

Chatham Square Site of the Kim Lau Memorial Arch, erected in 1962 in memory of fighter pilot Benjamin Ralph Kim Lau and the Chinese Americans who died in WWII. East of the Square, on Division St, is Confucius Plaza, where a statue of Confucius stands near the tallest building in Chinatown.

At the triangle of Canal, Baxter, and Walker Streets, NYC & Company's Chinatown Visitor Information Kiosk, open daily, has information on the area's rich cultural attractions, shops, teahouses, and restaurants.

20 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020
Phone: 212 636 2000
Whether you're looking to buy, or just looking, Christie's in Rockefeller Center, is open to the public five days a week, and on some weekends as well. Their offerings for upcoming auctions and sales are displayed in their galleries and you can simply walk in and enjoy their beautiful pieces -- everything from modern masterpieces to toys and historic books. And lest you think that everything you'll see is umpteen million dollars, 75% of the offerings at Christie's are actually priced below $5,000. It's like a museum, but one in which the exhibits are for sale. Check their website for hours and offerings.

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
4881 Broadway at 204th Street
New York, New York 10034
Phone: 212.304.9422

The Dutch Colonial style farmhouse was built on this site by William Dyckman c. 1784 and was originally part of several hundred acres of farmland owned by the family. Today, nestled in a small park, the farmhouse is an extraordinary reminder of early Manhattan and an important part of its diverse Inwood neighborhood. Opened to the public in 1916, the farmhouse and park have been host to a wide range of public programs -- from educational crafts for children to concerts on the back porch.

Eldridge Street Project
12 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone 212 219-0888

Eldridge Street Synagogue dates back to the 19th-century, and the wave of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who ventured to the shores of America in search of a new life, building the first house of worship on the Lower East Side in 1887. Tours, exhibits and discovery programs explore architecture and historic preservation, cultural continuity and cultural change. The not-for-profit Eldridge Street Project provides guided tours exploring the history, architecture and cultural significance of the Eldridge Street Synagogue including a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the restoration and conveys the story of our historic building through its physical structure: the intricately-painted walls of the women's balcony, the grand stained-glass windows and painted murals of the sanctuary, the everyday details of the lower-level house of study, and the ultra-modern mechanical systems and amenities recently installed in the cellar. Their newest tour is interactive tour for families where children handle historic artifacts, learn about the American immigrant experience, encounter basic architectural concepts, and complete their tour with an art-making activity relevant to our site, such as a Design-Your-Own-Rose-Window or Make-an-Eldridge-Street-Finial project. The Crossing Eldridge Street tour will take place on the last Sunday of every month at 2 PM. The Synagogue is a City, State and National Historic Landmark.

Fraunces Tavern Restaurant and Fraunces Tavern Museum
54 Pearl Street New York, New York 10004
Phone: Museum- 212-425-1778
There’s not much that truly dates back to 1719, but building still stands, and has an interesting history. When the war ended the tavern was the site of General Washington’s famous farewell to the officers of the Continental army on December 4th, 1783.

Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
Ranger Desk -- (212) 825-6888
Here on the corner of Broad and Wall Street, General George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. Home to the first congress, supreme court, and executive offices, the original Federal Hall was trully the birthplace of the current government of the United States. The current structure, a Greek revivial style Customs House, later served as part of the US Sub-Treasury. Currenlty, the building still serves the Federal Government as a museum and memorial to the first president and the beginnings of the United States of America.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York
33 Liberty Street, between Nassau and William Streets
Phone: 212 720-6130
Enjoy a tour of this important part of our economy. Tours are given Monday through Friday (except Bank holidays) and last approximately 60 minutes. As you'd expect, there is tight security so come at least 15 minutes early. Valid photo ID is required. Tours are free and wheelchair access is available. Security regulations require visitors to leave cameras, briefcases and other packages in locked closets in the bank's lobby. All visitors are required to show ID and pass through a metal detector. Tour Reservations must be made at least five business days in advance.

Firefighters 9/11 Memorial
Liberty Street and Greenwich Street
Home of Engine Company 10 and Ladder Company 10
It's located on the side of Ten House --7,000 pounds of bronze telling the story of heroism. The name, rank and company of all New York firefighters who died at the World Trade Center are listed. “We will never forget that day or those that we lost,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “And this memorial will serve as an inspiration to members of the FDNY and all New Yorkers, forever.”

Gracie Mansion
East 88th Street and East End Avenue
Phone: 212 570-4751

Originally built as a country home in 1799 overlooking the East River by Archibald Gracie. It has led quite a varied life including being used as a concession stand and restrooms for the park. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate it as the official residence of the Mayor, and in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia was the first mayoral tenant. The City of New York appropriated the estate in 1896, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into the newly-formed Carl Schurz Park.

After decades of use as a concession stand and restrooms for the park, Gracie Mansion was restored and became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When it moved to a larger building, Gracie Mansion became a historic house museum run by the Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate it as the official residence of the Mayor, and in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in.

The house was enlarged in 1966 to include a grand ballroom and two intimate reception rooms. The Gracie Mansion Conservancy was established in 1981, and under its guidance, the first major restoration was undertaken between 1981 and 1984. In 2002, the interior and exterior were again restored, and the house was transformed into the "People's House" with increased accessibility to the public and to City agencies. It will also be used to accommodate visiting officials and dignitaries, such as former guests First Lady Rosalynn Carter and President Nelson Mandela.

One more thing makes it remarkable -- it's one of the oldest surviving wood structures in Manhattan and a member of The Historic House Trust. Tours are available.

Grand Central Terminal
42nd Street
GST brings us back to the days when train travel was something special, and a gracious and grand station was required. This landmark building dating back to 1913 certainly is that, and more. Yet, there was a time when this icon of New York was in danger of obscurity and demolition. It was in the 1970s. New York City’s recently created Landmarks Preservation Commission (formed in response to the demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station) had designation Grand Central Terminal as a landmark, providing it with a measure of protection. But Penn Central owned it and had other, far more lucrative plans. The battle for control raged for 10 years, eventually culminating in a Supreme Court decision on June 16, 1978 upholding New York’s landmark law. The building was saved, but rejoicing was premature. Years of neglect had left a leaky roof, chipped away stone work, and rusted steel support column. Years worth of grime covered the surfaces. To help firmly fasten it to public awareness and help insure its survival, the Municipal Art Society began offering free walking tours. In 1983 Metro-North, the suburban commuter railroad, took over the terminal and began a multi-year, multi-million reclamation project. Today Grand Central Terminal has become a working tourist attraction – a train station for commuters, and a visitor destination. The tour is free, with donations gracefully accepted. It's fascinating and highly recommended. Read more about the history and touring at Grand Central Terminal.

Grant Memorial -- Grant's Tomb
122nd Street at Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-666-1640

Overlooking the Hudson River from the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, General Grant National Memorial is the largest tomb in North America. Grant's Tomb (as it is commonly called) is not only the final resting place of the General, but a memorial to his life and acomplishments. Technically, no one is "buried" in Grant's Tomb. The 159 foot neo-classical structure is a tomb, therefore both General Grant and his wife are "entombed", above ground, inside the Memorial.

In addition to visiting the Tomb, winter views of the Hudson are breathtaking.

International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone 212-857-0000

New York's only museum devoted exclusively to photography. Changing exhibits, education programs, resource library, collections. Admission. Workshops and classes.

Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
West 46th Street @ 12th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Phone 212-245-0072

Walk the decks of the historic aircraft carrier, tour a submarine, see the Concorde SST, and experience an F-18 mission. There’s also a great view of Manhattan from the decks.

Irish Hunger Memorial
290 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10285
The Irish Hunger Memorial (2002) by Brian Tolle honors the memory and experiences of the 1.5 million people who perished in the famine of 1845-1852. The Irish potato famine began when a blight destroyed the crop, a staple of their diet. By 1847 millions were starving and dying. Between 1847 and 1852 hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrated to New York. Tolle's piece is part art, part history, part memorial. Read more at Irish Hunger Memorial

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 965-9000

The Italian American Museum sponsors exhibitions, festivals, lectures, symposia and educational travel programs to Europe with a focus on Italy and its contributions to the world, as well as house precious collections of objects and memorabilia on the Italian American experience.

Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse, Fort Washington Park
178th Street & Hudson River
New York, NY
For tour information, call (212) 304-2365

The Jeffrey's Hook lighthouse, originally built in 1880 and moved to its current site in 1921, became famous when the children's book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge (by Hildegarde H. Swift with illustrations by Lynd Ward) published in 1942. In this fictional account the lighthouse was a symbol of the significance of a small thing in a big world and it became a celebrated child's landmark representing importance and permanence, after the proposed removal of the lighthouse in 1951. The public outcry of children and their allies prompted the preservation of the structure. The Jeffrey's Hook lighthouse had formerly stood as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, New Jersey from 1880-1917. It was reconstructed in 1921 by the United States Bureau of Lighthouses as part of a project to improve the navigational aids on the Hudson River and is now a New York City landmark. We're told the way to reach it is From Lafayette Place at West 181st Street, take steps, footpath and footbridge over the highway, down to the park and south to the Lighthouse See

The Juilliard School
155 West 65th Street
Phone: (212) 799-5000

Yes, it's a New York icon for great performers in training, but it's also a great venue for free performances. And a great library for rare and special collections. The Peter Jay Sharp Special Collections Room are the following includes hundreds of individual manuscript scores and autograph letters including two songs by Johannes Brahms, almost 200 first and early editions of Franz Liszt’s original piano works, transcriptions, and arrangements. As for the free performances -- check the website for what's new and free.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
90 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212-431-0233

If your ancestors came through New York City, this is the one place you must see. It carefully and respectfully recreates the living conditions and lives of people who came to the land where the streets were paved with gold. The tour, Getting By: Immigrants Weather the Great Depressions, provides insights into how a German-Jewish, and a Sicilian-Catholic family survived the Depressions of 1873 and 1929 through visits to the recreated apartments. The garment industry figures prominently into the history of the Lower East Side, and Piecing It Together is another narrated apartment tour telling the story through two families - one who ran a garment shop in their home and the other who worked as a presser in a factory. The Confino tour is interactive, and perfect for families. Visitors tour the living quarters of the Confino family, pretending to be newly arrived immigrants in the year 1916. Read More.

Madame Tussauds New York
234 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-512-9600
A unique experience way beyond standing next to wax figures. Mix music with Usher, audition for Simon Cowell, sink a putt with Tiger Woods, and scream your lungs out in the Chamber of Horrors, and more. Sing, dance and mingle with over 200 wax celebrities in 85,000 square feet of interactive entertainment located in the heart of Times Square. Bring your camera and document your interactions with the powerful and beautiful people recreated in Madame Tussauds.

The Morgan Library and Museum
Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212-685-0008
The Morgan Library and Museum, with its newly enlarged space (it reopened in April, 2006) designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, houses quite an eclectic collection. Included in its holdings are original scores of Mozart and Beethoven, drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens, medieval and Renaissance works, three Gutenberg Bibles, literary manuscripts of Dickens and Twain, and five-thousand-year-old Near Eastern carvings. Their exhibits span the range of American culture from pop music to Victorian novels and award-winning cartoons. How's that for diversity?

Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace
New York, NY 10032
Phone 212-923-8008

Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's oldest house, was headquarters to General Washington in September and October of 1776. After Washington's departure, the Mansion played host to a succession of British and Hessian military leaders, served briefly as an inn for weary travelers, and finally returned to its role as country house. Regular tours provide fascinating glimpses into its history.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
421 East 61st Street
New York, NY 10021
Phone 212-838-6878

Built in 1799 as a carriage house and operated as the Mount Vernon Hotel from 1826 to 1833. The Museum transports the visitor back to the Mount Vernon Hotel, a country escape for New Yorkers living in the crowded city at the southern tip of Manhattan. Federal and Empire furniture, eight period rooms, beautiful garden. It's one of the seven oldest buildings in Manhattan and one of New York City’s hidden treasures. Docents conduct interactive tours for walk-in visitors which can be geared towards children, students or people with a particular interest (e.g. Social History, Decorative Arts, etc.). Family packs are also available with interactive activities for families with young children. They're also opening a new children's corner on April 9, 2006 where kids can dress up in historical clothing, pretend to make turtle soup in the Dutch oven, fill up a bed warmer with coals, and wash linens for guests at the Mount Vernon Hotel. The children's corner includes dress-up clothing for girls and boys and a mini Historic Kitchen with reproduction artifacts for a fun, hands-on history experience. Free with regular admission.

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-831-7272

Located on the fabled Fifth Avenue Museum Mile, El Museo del Barrio is the only museum in the US devoted to the richness of Caribbean and Latin American arts and cultural history, celebrating and educating with exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and festivals.

Museum of American Finance
48 Wall Street
New York, New York 10005 Phone: 212 908-4110 The only independent public museum dedicated to celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and the democratic free market tradition. The exhibits include little known aspects of history (such as the women of Wall Street) and evergreen issues like the story of money.

Museum of American Illustration
128 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues)
New York, NY 10021-7303
Phone: 212 838-2560

The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators maintains a large collection of original illustrations. Amassed over several decades, the collection is comprised of well over two thousand works by many of the biggest names in the field of Illustration. These works are on display throughout the public and member spaces in the Society’s circa 1853 carriage house on East 63rd Street.

Museum of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY
Phone: 212 299-7777

This small gem of a museum The Museum of Arts & Design collects, displays, and interprets objects in ceramic, glass, fiber metal and wood that honor innovation in art, craft and design. There is also a full program of lectures, and events as well as children's programs. And, for travel-lovers, guided tours all over the world. They just moved to their new building where they have a much expanded exhibition space. Read more about the new building at Museum Reopens

Museum of Biblical Art
1865 Broadway (61st Street)
New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212-408-1500

This is a truly unique museum, the only scholarly museum celebrating art and the Bible in the United States. Their goal is to create an environment of dialogue between the Christian and Jewish faiths, a place where visitors can learn about the original context, meaning, and function of religious art.

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
594 Broadway, Suite 401
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-254-3511
Comic and cartoon art are taken seriously at this museum, representing every genre of the art including animation, anime, cartoons, comic books, comic strips, gag cartoons, humorous illustration, illustration, political illustration, editorial cartoons, caricature, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and computer-generated art. Did we leave anything out?

Museum of Chinese in the Americas
215 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone 212-619-4785

The Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA) began as a community-based organization founded in 1980 by Jack Tchen and Charlie Lai and Chinese American artists, historians and students. They wanted to make sure that the memories of first-generation immigrants would not be lost. The Museum is not only the keeper of the community's documented history, but the community's cultural history as well. They have a new home and a much expanded exhibit space. Read more about Museum of the Chinese in America

Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
Phone 212-217-5800

Founded in 1967 to support the academic programs of the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Museum at FIT is the repository for one of the largest collections of costume and textiles in the world, which it preserves for both study and exhibition purposes

The Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place
Battery Park City, New York 10280
Phone: 646 437-4200

This distinctive building of layered concrete focuses on Jewish history and family life as well as current issues -- 20th century Jewish experience before, during, and after the Holocaust as described through personal accounts, artifacts, photos, and film. Special exhibits, performances, lectures round out a full program of events and information. But there is also special garden in memory of those who died in the Holocaust, and honoring those who survived. The Garden of Stones created by Andy Goldsworthy, is a contemplative space (although oddly located off a dining room) with a view of the Statue of Liberty. It harkens back to a Jewish custom of placing stones on graves as a sign of remembrance. These stones of remembrance however, are large boulders, carefully hollowed out. In each small hollow, a tiny dwarf oak has been planted. The stones are eternal, but with time, the trees will grow and change. Perhaps stone and tree will join, an everlasting tribute. There is an entrance fee to the museum, but visiting the memorial garden is free.

National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 542-0566 The only math museum in the US, the Museum of Mathematics -- MoMath -- strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics in daily life. The Museum’s dynamic, interactive exhibits and programs are geared for families and adults and present mathematical experiences that are designed to stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of math. Read more about Museum of Mathematics in New York City

Museum of Sex
233 Fifth Avenue (@ 27th Street)
New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212 689-6337
Yes, that's what we said. Naturally, it's recommended for mature audiences only due to the subject matter. They offer permanent and changing exhibits. Spotlight on the Permanent Collection is the first exhibition featuring a sampling of objects and ephemera drawn from over nine thousand objects that comprise the permanent collection of the Museum of Sex. This ever-growing collection, begun five years ago, covers many aspects of human sexuality; together they tell a fascinating story about America's changing attitudes about sex and sexuality over the last two hundred and fifty years. Changing exhibits look at topics such as blue movies, graphic sex in Japan, and more. Writer Vic Block in his review said Mere mention of The Museum of Sex often elicits knowing winks and nods. But in fact, collections like clips from historic “blue movies” and early “pinup” photographs share space with scholarly examinations of topics like how to define “obscenity,” and the history of efforts to restrict it.

The Paley Center for Media -- (Formerly known as The Museum of Television & Radio)
25 West 52nd Street
New York, New York 10019
Phone: 212 621-6600

It was never really a museum anyway. Rather it's a gigantic library of old (and not so old) television and radio shows. It was founded by William S. Paley in 1975 to collect, preserve, and interpret television and radio programming. There's over 120,000 programs covering more than 80 years of television and radio. Even Internet programming is being archived. There's also a full program of lectures, film screenings, and workshops. Some free with admission, some with an extra charge. It's a great place for adults to wax nostalgic, and a perfect rainy day choice for families.

The National Museum of Catholic Art & History
443 East 115th Street
New York, NY 10029
Phone 212-828-5209

Collects and preserves artifacts, paintings, and manuscripts in its eleven galleries. A cultural religious institution defining Catholicism America with Spiritual artworks.

National Museum of the American Indian
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004
Phone 212-514-3700

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it is said to be the largest collection in the world devoted to North, Central, and South American Indian cultures. Opened in October 1994, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian is in lower Manhattan at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, a truly gorgeous building on the water. Permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as public programs — including music and dance performances, films, and symposia. Admission is free.

New Museum (of Contemporary Art)
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212 219-1222

Summed up, their mission and focus is New Art New Ideas Contemporary art is truly innovative and unlike all the art you studied in school. Rather than standing and admiring it, contemporary art challenges and provokes.

New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring Street (between Varick St & Hudson St)
New York, NY
(212) 691-1303
Located in an old fire station dating back to 1904, the New York City Fire Museum offers group tours during the week led by retired fire-fighter volunteers on the history of firefighting in NYC and the vintage equipment. But if you go on a weekend, when the tours aren't offered, there's lots of historic fire-fighting equipment, including horse-drawn and hand-pumped machinery. Recessed into a wall at children's eye level is also a tiny memorial to a small brown mutt who became a firehouse mascot of Engine Co. 203 in Brooklyn. The dog (stuffed and on display) wandered into the firehouse in 1929 and was as heroic as his human friends for the next 10 years, until he was hit by a car and died in 1939. According to the plaque he helped rescue dozens of people and although he wasn't fond of cats he nonetheless rescued a cat and several kittens from a burning building.

The first floor contains videos, photographs, and a moving tribute to the firefighters who lost their lives in rescue attempts during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

New York City Police Museum
100 Old Slip (4 blocks south of South Street Seaport)
New York, NY
(212) 480-3100

If you're interested in NYC police, stop in at the New York City Police Museum, established in December 2001. Located in an historic building dating to 1909 at 100 Old Slip near South Street, the museum tells the history of the men and women in blue. Their newest permanent exhibit commemorates the role of the New York City police in responding to the events of the September 11th tragedy. There's also the vehicles used by the NYPD over the years, as well as the firearms. The Wall of Heroes goes back to 1854 with James Cahill being shot and killed on September 29th. Where there's heroes there are villains, and the exhibit on notorious criminals contains the lock pics used by famous thief Willie Sutton and Al Capone's machine gun.

New York Public Library
42nd Street and Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
The majestic Beaux Arts building opened in 1911 with over one million books available to the public. According to their website Between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors streamed through the building the first day it was open. Perhaps even more famous than the building are Patience and Fortitude -- the twin lions guarding the entrance. During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time: Patience still guards the south side of the Library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north. As a tribute to the Lions' popularity and all that they stand for, the Library adopted these figures as its mascots. They are trademarked by the Library, represented in its logo, and featured at major occasions. Besides admiring the building (inside and outside), the Library offers some wonderful biblio treats. A sample of their literary exhibits are listed on in the Festival & Events page.

New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza
55 Water Street
New York, NY
Excerpts etched into the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial reflect letters, diary entries, and poems written by Americans during the Vietnam Era. These quotes are supplemented by news dispatches and public statements about the war. The Walk of Honor lists the names and ages of 1,741 individuals who entered the military service in the City of New York and were lost to the Vietnam War. On their website you can click on a letter of the alphabet, above, to find someone you know. Then click on their name to post or read a tribute. Access that page directly by clicking Walk of Honor

Night Court
100 Centre Street
New York, NY

For decades New Yorkers in search of offbeat and free "entertainment" headed to Night Court. This is the real stuff -- a slice of New York made real. It’s an average of 24 hours before a person taken into custody is arraigned before a judge; 48 hours is the legal limit, so courts in NYC run day and night. Generally two courtrooms are in use in the somewhat forbidding fortress-like building completed in 1941. There are usually Legal Aid lawyers and other public defenders plus a few criminal lawyers in private practice. Drugs, robbery, even the occasional act of civil disobedience and protest. You can also learn a lot about bail watching the proceedings, and about a slice of the underside of life in NYC.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square Odditorium
234 West 42nd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
New York, New York
Phone: (212)398-3133
Ripley’s Times Square will house the ultimate in the odd and bizarre, as well as items that are truly New York ranging from 24 shrunken heads to a section of the Berlin Wall, a 3,197 lb. meteorite and Babe Ruth’s “Believe It or Not’s” New York team baseball uniform. Open 365 days a year from 9am to 1am.

Rockefeller Center
48th - 51st and 5th Avenue
New York, NY
Named after John D. Rockefeller Jr. who funded the building of this historic New York City icon during the Great Depression. It's done in the Art Deco style of the late 1920s and home to Radio City Music Hall. According to Wikipedia One of the complex's first tenants was The Radio Corporation of America, hence the names "Radio City" and "Radio City Music Hall." It's also home to Paul Manship's gilded statue of Prometheus recumbent, bringing fire to mankind. In winter, there's the ice-skating rink, and New York City's Christmas tree.

The Rock is also home to the famous auction house Christie's (20 Rockefeller Plaza) and their galleries are open daily for free public viewings. Read about Rockefeller Center Tours. Call 212 636-2000 for viewing information. For information on upcoming events at Rockefeller Center call 212 632-3975.

St. Bartholomew's Church
Park Ave at 51st St
New York, New York
Phone: 212-378-0222

Tour the spectacular sacred space of St. Bartholomew's every Sunday at 12:15 p.m., following the 11a.m. service. Group tours can also be arranged by calling 212-378-0211 or email

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone 212-833-8100

A hands-on communication technology and entertainment museum for all ages. Admission to the Lab is free to be enjoyed by both adults and children. Occupying four floors and 14,000 square feet, from the very beginning visitors know this is something special. In the lobby there’s an robot who actually interacts with the children waiting to enter the Lab. It’s not until later in the visit that the secret is revealed. The robot is actually controlled by an unseen master using goggles and gloves to make the robot an extension of operator’s own body.

Visitors start at the fourth floor by logging into the computer network. The sophisticated computer system records your face and voice when you first log in (all of the logs are wiped clean every evening) and codes it on a plastic card you swipe at each of the exhibits. This enables the personalization of their displays. Walking along the history of communication bridge for example, which provides 150 years of communication and entertainment history, you may see your face on the video displays. Although all the exhibits are fun and informative, there is a particularly special experience called Shadow Garden and Sand Interactive. A very long and fancy name for playing with shadows, with a twist. Visitors stand in front of a translucent wall which displays the image of cascading nuggets. But the wall interacts with shadows cast by visitors, and the sand nuggets accumulate on visitors’ shadows, pooling on shoulders, heaping in cupped hands. Soon visitors discover that they can link shadows and strangers learn to work together to pass the sand back and forth. There’s also movies screened in their High Definition television theater. All exhibits are wheelchair accessible and the Lab also offers American Sign Language tours. Reservations for these ASL tours are available for individual families and groups.

South Street Seaport
Located in the Financial District. A thriving waterfront community complete with breathtaking views and more than 100 shops, cafes, and restaurants.

South Street Seaport Museum
207 Front Street
New York, NY 10038
Phone: 212-748-8600

Located in an 11 square-block historic district, the museum features galleries with changing exhibitions, historic ships, tours, harbor sails aboard antique schooners, a reconstructed 19th century printing ship, gift shop, and extensive family and public programs.

St. Paul's Chapel
Church Street between Fulton and Vesey Streets
Phone: (212) 233-4164

In addition to be Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use, St. Pauls's was also the site for much of the volunteer relief effort following the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001. "Unwavering Spirit: Hope & Healing at Ground Zero" is their interactive exhibit, honoring that ministry and its legacy of love and compassion. Ground Zero Ministry Exhibit is open Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.- 4p.m.

Sports Museum of America
26 Broadway
Phone: 212 747-0900
The nation's first and only museum to celebrate, under one roof, all of the sports Americans love. Created with more than 50 single-sport Halls of Fame, Museums, National Governing Bodies and other sports organizations from across North America, the Sports Museum is an interactive, multimedia experience with an impressive collection of memorabilia and iconic artifacts. Relive goose-bump moments in sports history - thrilling athletic feats, record-setting triumphs, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories that transcend sports through more than 600 artifacts, 1,100 photos, and 20 original films within 19 galleries

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Located on 12-acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy. The poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, was composed in 1883 as part of a project to raise funds to build the pedestal for the Statue. The poem's title refers to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the world. The most famous lines of the poem: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! It was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.

Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. About 12 million steerage and third class steamship passengers entered the United States through the port of New York,and were processed at Ellis Island. Ellis Island is now a museum dedicated to the history of immigration and the people who came through its doors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Temple Emanu-El
One East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 744-1400

Established in l845 at a gathering of 37 Jews from Germany, Temple Emanu-El held its first services in a second floor loft at the corner of Grand and Clinton streets on the Lower East Side. After joining l927 with Temple Beth-El (located on Fifth Avenue and East 76th Street), the congregation built its present house of worship at Fifth Avenue and East 65th Street. isitors are welcome to tour our sanctuaries from 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Sunday through Thursday — except in the occurance of a holiday or funeral service. It is best to call the Temple Office at (212) 744-1400 prior to your arrival to make certain of no unforeseen closings. Guests also are invited to view our historic Judaica collection located within the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum. The museum likewise is open Sunday through Thursday, from 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Admission is free. All visitors to either the sanctuaries or the museum must enter through the Marvin and Elisabeth Cassell Community House (One East 65th Street). Individuals may spend as much time as they wish between the 10 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. time frame for a self-guided tour. Guided tours of Emanu-El are available for groups of 10 or more. Groups should allow approximately 45 minutes for the sanctuaries and an additional half-hour for the museum. Group tours should be booked at least two weeks in advance.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
28 East 20th Street, between Park Avenue South and Broadway
New York, NY
Phone: 212-260-1616
Not all Presidents were born in log cabins. One was actually born in a New York City brownstone! Visit the birthplace and boyhood home of Teddy Roosevelt and see what it was like to grow up in the "gilded age". Park Ranger guided tours of the period rooms are available on the hour 10 to 4 PM. Each tour lasts approximately thirty minutes. Visitors may also visit the gallery which contains hundreds of original items from Roosevelt's colorful life.

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
Central Park
79th Street and West Drive
New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212-988-9093

The Cottage was built as Sweden's exhibit of a model schoolhouse for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. In 1877, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park, had it moved to its present location. The City Parks Foundation restored it in the late 1990s, and today it hosts marionette shows for children of all ages.

United Nations
First Avenue between 42nd and 46th Streets New York, NY
Phone: 212-963-8687
Multilingual tours available include historical background and artwork from around the world. Plus a gift shop with international crafts and jewelry.

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Outer Boroughs Attractions

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