New York City is always changing. Every year there are new attractions, buildings and restaurants to delight residents and visitors from all over the world. But don’t be mislead, we are rich with history. While visiting New York travelers can customize their own experience, interweaving our nation’s past, present and future to create the perfect trip. Tim Gerhold, the Front Office Manager at the Library Hotel and a self-proclaimed history buff, shares with us his recommendations for a fun-filled tour of history in NYC!
Between fabulous Broadway shows and decadent meals at Michelin starred restaurants, make sure to leave enough time to soak up the rich history of New York City. While it’s impossible to see it all, take in a few of these sights and you’ll make your grade school history teacher very proud!
Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty. 12 Million Immigrants funneled into New York via Ellis Island! Learn their stories during a 45 minute audio tour at the Ellis Island Immigration museum. Then, head over to The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, a gift from France in 1886 that officially became a National Monument in 1924! If you want to climb all the way up to Lady Liberty’s crown (377 steps) remember to reserve tickets well in advance – about 2 months! One ferry ticket will get you to both Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Pedestal access to Lady Liberty is included but crown access is additional. Did you know that in 1897, only 5 years after opening, Ellis Island Immigration Station burned completely to the ground? Take Statue Cruises, www.statuecruises.com, to Ellis Island from beautiful Battery Park.
Next, I suggest you visit The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side to find out exactly how most of these immigrants actually lived. Learn about life at 97 Orchard Street but remember to book a specific building tour ahead of time, like “Irish Outsiders” or “Sweatshop Workers”. I also recommend a neighborhood walking tour like “Storefront Stories” (Adults $25). Did you know that tenement family apartments were only 325 square feet, consisted of just 3 rooms, and did not have a shower or bath?
Not far from The Tenement Museum stands the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan. You can walk, drive or bike across this massive bridge and enjoy beautiful East River views of both boroughs. The bridge opened back in 1883 after 14 years of construction! Did you know that P.T Barnum personally walked 21 elephants over the bridge to prove that it was safe? This year, newly elected mayor Bill De Blasio relocated the city’s July 4th fireworks celebration to the East River, formerly hosted on the Hudson River, and hundreds of fireworks exploded from the Brooklyn Bridge itself!
Another must-see historical marvel is Grand Central Terminal, located just steps from Library Hotel! Opened in 1913, Grand Central Terminal was originally dubbed Grand Central Depot and later Grand Central Station. Did you know that the main entrance foyer of Grand Central was recently dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis? The former first lady played a pivotal role in preserving the building by leading the fight to stop developers from building a skyscraper on top of the terminal in the 1970’s. Self guided audio tours are available for $9 seven days a week. Or for $20, take a 75 minute guided walking tour with expert docents from the Municipal Art Society of New York. If tours aren’t your thing, Grand Central Terminal is also home to the New York Transit Museum as well as several famous NYC eateries like The Oyster Bar, Magnolia Bakery, Two Boots Pizza and more.
Exhausted yet? A history buffs trip to New York absolutely wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the New York Historical Society. Located on the Upper West Side and founded in 1804, it is the oldest museum in New York City! This place truly does have it all! In addition to the Historical Society Museum, it also has a Children’s Museum and a beautiful Library (yes, book lovers rejoice, there is a beautiful library with reading room!). During your visit check out the 18 minute film narrated by Liev Schreiber called “New York Story.” Adults $19.
Have more time to spare? History buffs will also love the American Museum of Natural History (Upper West Side), the Merchant’s House Museum (Greenwich Village) and the Museum of the City of New York (Upper East Side).
Please feel welcome to share any questions or recommendations for your fellow travelers and our team! If you would like further assistance contact our concierge team at the Hotel Elysee, Hotel Giraffe , Casablanca Hotel, or Tim himself at Library Hotel!