10 New York's Little Secrets August 10 2014


There are so many fabulous things to see in New York City that you probably studied in your travel guide, online, etc. Still, there are a few city secrets that even New Yorkers might not know about. Here we go...



1. Secrete train tracks underneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel

waldorf astoria, secrete train, new york

The famous (yet unconfirmed) story about the Waldorf-Astoria platform features Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). In some accounts, he used this platform to transfer himself into an employed custom-made train cart. The vehicle would commute him straight to the hotel and was armored for the traveler’s protection.

In another version, his armored train on Metro-North would disconnect and drive onto the platform and into the freight elevator. In yet another, there was an automobile on the train, which then went onto the elevator. 

The platform also served as an underground party space for Andy Warhol in 1965, according to William D. Middleton in Grand Central: The World’s Greates Railway Terminal. 


2. 77 Water Street Rooftop

nyc, 1st world war airplane, new york

“When you’re in a building that’s higher, and you’re looking down, it’s pretty ugly,” says Robert Kaufman, the William Kaufman Organization's president. “So we said: ‘what can we do?’ And we got the idea of putting an airplane on the roof.”

Though Kaufman delights in onlookers wondering if a plane did indeed fly in and land on 77 Water Street, the aircraft is actually just an artistic re-imagining of a 1916 British Sopwith Camel, designed by Rudolph de Harak and constructed by sculptor William Tarr. It was hoisted into place by crane in 1969 and hasn’t moved since.


3. Lenin Statue at Red Square

lenin, nyc, statue, new york

There are many monuments to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in the world. But there is a slightly twisted irony to the fact that the leader of the proletariat revolution and proponent of socialist equality wound up on the roof of an expensive luxury apartment building, arm raised, saluting the one and only New York City--perhaps the ultimate monument to capitalism. 

The building, called Red square, upon which Lenin's giant metal feet are planted, is owned by a former professor of radical sociology, Michael Rosen. This particular likeness of Lenin was created by Yuri Gerasimov, who was commissioned to build it by the Soviet Union, but because of the Union's collapse, the statue was never unveiled and remained so until 1994 when Rosen's partner bought it from the artist and had it installed on the roof. Since the construction of Red Square, Rosen has focused on building housing for battered women and those afflicted by AIDS, perhaps putting the spirit of Lenin slightly more at ease.


4. Submarine in Coney Island Creek

submarine in coney island creek

Coney Island Creek, really two sea inlets, is notable in part because it used to define Coney Island as an actual island. Before it was filled in , a portion of the Creek divided Coney Island from mainland Brooklyn. Now, it houses a ramshackle collection of at least nine burnt, half-sunken boats, a tragically surfaced dolphin corpse, and one curiously famous submarine.

The once–bright yellow submarine was built and launched on Coney Island Creek in 1970 by a Brooklyn Navy Yard welder named Jerry Bianco. The Quester was his first shipbuilding attempt. The Quester had raised several small wrecks in Gravesend Bay before it broke loose during a storm in 1981 and wrecked at its current location. The Quester’s original purpose, interestingly, was to find, raise, and salvage the Andrea Doria, a cruise ship which sank off Nantucket Island following a collision.


5. Secret Rooftop Gardens of Rockefeller Center

In at least one way, Rockefeller Center was green before its time. For 75 years formal gardens have bloomed on the roofs of the British Empire Building and Maison Française as well as on the setbacks of other Center buildings. Developer John R. Todd and architect Raymond Hood believed that architectural design should provide aesthetic delight to tenants as well as passersby, and installed these “hanging gardens” as a visual treat for the thousands of workers in the Center’s buildings.

This wasn’t strictly an aesthetic undertaking, for extra structural steel was installed to support the weight of thousands of tons of soil, pipes, pumps, and vegetation.


6. Museum of the American Gangster

museum of the american gangster, mafia, nyc, new york, new york city

The Museum of the American Gangster is a two-room museum located at 80 St. Mark's Place in the East Village, Manhattan New York City. Opened in 2010, it is located upstairs from a former speakeasy in a neighborhood once frequented by Al CaponeLucky Luciano, and John Gotti.

The Gangster Museum's goal is to objectively present the role that crime has played in shaping the politics, culture, myth and lore of New York City -- and beyond.


7. The Women's Bathroom Sitting Lounge in Radio City Music Hall

When you hear your Grandma proclaim, “They just don’t make bathrooms like they used to”, you now know what she’s talking about. And also, why are you talking to your Grandma about bathrooms? After using the facilities, women can relax in style in this art deco sanctuary. 

Ladies' lounges are spacious places to relax, complete with tables, plush seating and even a pay phone.


8. Waterfall

waterfalls, new york, new york city

Paley Park, East 53rd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenue. A small vest pocket park in midtown Manhattan, the park was developed (and every detail considered) by the person who paid for it, William Paley, former Chairman of CBS. Mr. Paley was involved in all aspects of planning the park from its conception to the selection of just the right hot dog (which is still served at a reasonable price).

A waterfall provides a dramatic focal point and a reason to enter the park; its noise blocks out the sounds of the city and creates a sense of quiet and privacy. There's adequate shade in the summer from the trees, though they allow a beautiful dappled light to pass through their leaves. People interviewed in the park said that they liked it because they could be "alone" in a busy city and it gave them a quiet, restful feeling.


9. United Nations Delegate Dinning Room

The Delegates Dining Room offers a unique, upscale dining experience with its award winning and globally inspired cuisine. Its eclectic menu changes daily and features refined recipes from around the world. The buffet features items such as our Chef’s Soup du Jour, specialty pastas, fresh salads, carving station, dessert table and more! The newly renovated Delegates Dining Room has a breathtaking panoramic view of the East River and city skyline accompanied by the world class service found at the United Nations.

The prix fixe buffet luncheon is offered at $34.99 for the public. Regular operating hours are Monday to Friday 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. 


10. Irish Hunger Memorial

irish hunger memorial,  nyc, new york, new york city

Wedged between financial powerhouses and well-manicured parks, the Irish Hunger Memorial serves as a humble reminder that Manhattan's southern tip was once the first glimpse of freedom for many immigrants.

The nucleus of artist Brian Tolle's multi-layered design is an early 19th-century stone cottage from County Mayo, Ireland. The modest home now sits on a raised field at the end of a pathway of thirty-two hefty stones, each marked with the name of the Irish county that donated it. Visitors enter the memorial through a dark granite corridor while voiceovers recount the horrors of Irish Hunger—one million dead; almost twice that many fleeing to the United States.