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Old New York: Historical Attractions

Jan 23rd 2014

With a history as rich as New York’s is, the options for history buffs are endless. The city can trace its roots back to 1524, when the explorer Giovanni da Verrazano discovered the area. The area that is now New York went on to become one of the most important seaports on the Atlantic Ocean. As the center for trade the population grew exponentially to become the most densely populated city in the country.

While there are very few attractions still standing from the time of the city’s founding, many of New York’s biggest attractions are historical landmarks and well known around the world, but there are also a lot of hidden gems in a city this big!

Here are some of the city’s oldest buildings and sites you won’t want to miss while visiting:

  • The Wyckoff House is New York City’s oldest house and first official landmark. Residing in Brooklyn, the old farmhouse (circa 1652) is now a museum where visitors can enjoy a guided tour.
  • The Van Cortlandt House, built in 1748, once hosted George Washington and was the city’s first historic house museum. It remains open to the public to this day.
  • St. Paul’s Chapel, which was constructed in 1764 contains George Washington’s pew; the very same pew where he prayed on his first inauguration day.
  • John Bowne House in Queens, circa 1661, is the oldest structure in the borough. The house, which was used by Quakers as a meeting place, is also said to have been a safe house for the Underground Railroad.
  • Green-Wood Cemetery was one of the country’s first rural cemeteries dating back to 1838. This National Landmark was once in the running with Niagara Falls as the most popular tourist attraction, partially due to the fact there are numerous famous figures that were buried on the grounds. The property is also a Revolutionary War Historic Site. The battle of Long Island was fought in 1776 on the grounds.
  • Merchants House Museum is the city’s only intact preserved family home.  The home, which was built in 1832, retains the original family furnishings.
  • Trinity Church was rebuilt in 1846 for the third time and is an Episcopal parish, which has been a part of the city since 1697.
  • New York City Hall’s current building was completed in 1812 and is the oldest City Hall in the country that still houses its original governmental functions.
  • In fact New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania is one of the longest still operating hotels in the city. Built in 1919, New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania has hosted more guests than any other hotel in the world and has the distinction of having the New York phone number in longest continuous use as well as the first hotel to introduce the high-rise elevator.

There are historical wonders everywhere you look in the city, but when you delve a littler deeper, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for New York!