A History Lover's Guide to New York City

Historical Sites, Museums, and Architecture in New York City

New York City is full of history, and you can see it everywhere you go. From the world-class museums showcasing historical treasures and artwork to the finest representations of architecture from every period, New York offers plenty of terrific historical attractions and sights. Here we've curated some of the best and most important places to see in New York if you're interested in the history of the city and the country.

Museums

New York City has museums, galleries, and cultural centers for art lovers, history enthusiasts, and culture vultures. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim, NYC has museums that cater to just about anyone. Visitors can spend days or even weeks in New York and still not see all of the museums, so it might be best to focus on the places and topics that interest you the most, whether that be art, history, ethnic cultures, science and technology, or something else. Some of the most notable and popular museums include the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the New York Transit Museum, and the Jewish Museum. This is of course not a complete list as travelers to this great city will soon discover. And another great aspect to having so many museums is that they are open year-round and make a great escape from bad weather if you're visiting New York during the colder months.

Weeksville Heritage Center
During the 19th century, Weeksville was one of the country's first free black communities. The community had its own schools, churches, and community associations. The Heritage Center offers tours and activities that serve to educate the public on the history and significance of this community.
1673 Bergen Street, Ocean Hill, NYC, New York, 11233
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out The Best Art Museums in New York City and Christmas in New York City.
Wave Hill
Once a private estate with a beautiful garden dating back to 1843, this home is now owned by the city and is open to the public, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour both the gardens and the house for a small admission fee. The gardens consist of a variety of flora along with a few spots with magnificent views over the river. Also on the premises is an art gallery and gift shop. An entry fee is normally charged, but it's free before noon on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
665 West 252nd Street, Riverdale, New York, New York, 10471
The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
This unique Long Island museum combines a grand mansion, a beautiful park, and a marine and natural history museum, as well as a planetarium. In addition to shows in the planetarium, there is also a rooftop observatory viewing every Friday night.
180 Little Neck Rd, Centerport, Long Island, NY, 11721
The Skyscraper Museum
This museum focuses on the architecture and engineering of tall buildings. The exhibits educate visitors on the history, construction, and design of some of the city's most unique skyscrapers. There are also family programs and educational resources available.
39 Battery Pl, New York, NY, 10280
The Morgan Library & Museum
This institution began as the private library of J. Pierpont Morgan and it was donated to the city. It includes drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Picasso. There are three Gutenberg Bibles, and a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley, as well as manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck, and Wilde. There's also sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY, 10016
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This world-class museum has one of the most in depth collections of art, spanning more than 5,000 years and representing cultures from around the globe. This is one of the largest museums in the world and it features a wide variety of topics. Everything from fashion to photography, and ancient times is represented. For the best price and the least crowds, visit the museum early on a weekday.
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10028
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum. It has an impressive collection of museum ships and they also offer planetarium shows as well as Astronomy Family Nights. The museum is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street, along the Hudson River, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
Pier 86, W 46th St, Upper West Side, New York, NY, 10036
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: An Art Lover's Guide to New York City and Where to See the Sunset & Sunrise in New York City.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center
The Cradle of Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum that educates visitor's on Long Island's role in the history of aviation. The museum also has an attached planetarium, the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium, which shows educational films that cover a number of topics including pre-historic sea monsters and galactic journeys. This museum is in Garden City, Long Island.
Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, Long Island, NY, 11530
The City Reliquary
This museum focuses on the history of New York City's five boroughs.
366 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, NYC, New York, 11211
Tenement Museum
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum located in a historic tenement house. Tours are available and visitors will learn about the personal stories of the individuals who once resided here. There are also neighborhood walk tours that teach about the Lower East Side community and how it was evolved through the years.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY , New York, NY, 10002
Staten Island Museum
This museum has a new facility in Snug Harbor that offers a number of art and natural history exhibits. This is the oldest museum on Staten Island, dating back to 1881 when it was begun by 14 environmentalists.
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY, 10301
New York Transit Museum
New York Transit Museum
The New York Transit Museum is housed in a former subway station near Brooklyn's Borough Hall. Kids love this museum and it's small, so you can pass through it in about an hour and see the cars of a vintage subway train, or sit in the driver's seat of a city bus. The museum walks you through more than a century of transportation history in New York City.
99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY, 11201
Merchant's House Museum
This is the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village, Soho, NoHo neighborhoods.
29 East 4th Street, NoHo Historic District, NYC, New York, 10003
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in The Best Science Museums in New York City and The 17 Best Children's Museums in New York City.
Lewis Howard Latimer House Museum
This museum was once the home of the African American inventer Lewis Howard Latimer and today it is a museum that educates visitors on his work.
34-41 137th Street, Linden Hill, NYC, New York, 11354
Historic Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town is an authentic town and farm museum on Staten Island. It's a living history museum that's part of La Tourette Park and it brings everyday life from the 19th century into today. Many of the buildings are historical structures and the staff make up the community of a 19th century small town, each representing a different trade.
441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
Garibaldi - Meucci Memorial Museum
Located in a Gothic Revival cottage, this museum was once home to the inventor and candle maker, Antonio Meucci. Later, the Italian revolutionary and politician, Giuseppe Garibaldi lived here.
420 Tompkins Avenue, Clifton, NYC, New York, 10305
Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Ellis Island, which is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, was the primary entry point for immigrants coming to the United States from 1892 to 1954. The island consists of a park area and several buildings. The main building, which was the immigration port of entry, is now a museum which showcases the history of immigration into New York. Visitors can browse through the museum and see a variety of exhibits about the immigration experience and the history immigrants in New York and the U.S. The island can be reached as part of the ferry service that takes visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island that departs from Battery Park.
New York City, New York
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
Dating back to 1785, this is the oldest remaining farmhouse in Manhattan. It's located in a small park in the Inwood neighborhood.
4881 Broadway, NYC, New York, 10034
DiMenna Children's History Museum at the New York Historical Society
This museum is designed with kids in mind. There are hands-on displays that take you back in time 350 years to learn about the history of NYC. Kids are encouraged to climb and interact with the exhibits that look at the lives of historical figures. There are also family programs available including cooking classes, scavenger hunts, games, and story time.
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, New York, NY, 10024
If you're looking for more information about New York City, read The Best Parks, Gardens, and Things to Do Outdoors in New York City and The Best Iconic Skyscrapers to Visit in New York City.
Castle Clinton
This monument, previously Fort Clinton and Castle Garden, is a sandstone fort that is found in Battery Park. It once served as the first immigration station between 1855 and 1890 before Ellis Island.
NYC, New York
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
This historic house dates back to the mid 1800's, and was built on the land which Thomas Pell purchased from the Siwanoy Native Americans in the 1700's to form the Bronx. Now the estate and its gardens are owned by the city and are open to the public. Visitors can tour the house which features a Greek-Revival style, as well as the beautiful formal-style gardens which are home to a variety of sculptures, sculpted landscapes, flower beds, and more. Events, children's activities, classes, group trips, and other festivities can be experienced here, too.
1 Orchard Beach Road, NYC, New York, 10464
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
This is one of the largest museums in the world and it is made up of 28 interconnected buildings that house 45 permanent exhibition halls. There's also a planetarium and a library. The museum's collection includes more than 33 million specimens of animals, plants, minerals, fossils, rocks, and more.
180 Central Park West, Lincoln Towers, NYC, New York, 10024
Alice Austen House
Located in what was once the home of Alice Austen (1866 to 1952) this museum features about 8,000 photographs taken by this renowned photographer. The museum teaches visitors about her life's work and shows examples of her different styles of photography.
2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY, 10305
How much does it cost to visit the museums in New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $12 to $1,099. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $110. A few of the best options are below.

Historic Sites

New York City is full of history. From the Revolutionary War to Prohibition, New York has had its share of historical events. And as a visitor to this great city, you can explore the various museums and historical sites that tell these stories. From the days of the original settlers of New Amsterdam all the way up to modern times, New York is like a living history museum itself. With a mix of older and newer buildings in the skyline and along the waterfront, every location tells a story. For example, the New York Stock Exchange building as well as several major train stations are not just functional, they are also examples of historical architecture that are worth visiting. And don't forget about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, where much of the amazing history of the people of New York began. Below are even more historical sites in New York City.

Wall Street
Wall Street
This eight block area runs between Broadway and South Street and is where you'll find some of the world's most important exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Broadway, this is also where you'll find the famous bronze statue of Charging Bull at Bowling Green.
Broad Street, NYC, New York, 10004
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in Famous Squares and Plazas to Visit in New York City and The Best Planetariums to Visit near New York City.
Ulysses S. Grant's Tomb
Ulysses S. Grant's Tomb
Formally known as the General Grant National Memorial, this is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), the 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant (1826–1902). Construction was completed in 1897, and the tomb and monument is located in Riverside Park in the Morningside Heights neighborhood.
501 Riverside Drive, NYC, New York, 10024
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is a historic Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral which is also a prominent landmark of New York City. Located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, it sits directly across the street from Rockefeller Center, and is a popular place for visitors and locals alike. The building is one of the finest symbols of the Roman Catholic Church in New York City and the entire United States. Built in the 1800's, it is constructed of marble and features a large rose window flanked by two large spires.
625 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10035
Railroad Museum of Long Island
With a variety of historic train cars and engines on display, this museum is part railroad and part history, and all fun. It's great for adults and kids alike. Visitors can tour the historic rail cars, browse the museum informational exhibits, ride the "miniature" train which is large enough for kids and adults to sit inside, and view various toy and model railroads, too.
416 Griffing Ave., Riverhead, New York
New York Times Building
This building was the home to the New York Times from 1889 to 1903. This is the oldest remaining building along "Newspaper Row" and it is currently owned by Pace University.
NYC, New York, 10000
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The famous New York Stock Exchange is located on Wall Street, and it is, by far, the world's largest stock exchange.
Wall Street, NYC, New York, 10005
New York Public Library Main Branch
New York Public Library Main Branch
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is the flagship building in the New York Public Library system and a prominent historic landmark in Midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue. Opened in 1911, it offers four stories of books and reading areas open to the public. The building itself is a work of art and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.
476 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10018
Long Island Live Steamers
This is a cross between a railroad museum and an amusement park. Here you'll find a number of scale model railroads and trains that are large enough sit in to take a ride, but not as large as a real train. It's lots of fun for both adults and children. The park is run as a non-profit and organized by model railroad enthusiasts. They are only open to the public on select days of the year, usually spring to autumn, on the 2nd and last Sunday of every month (but other days are available, too). Check their website for opening days and times.
Southaven County Park Gerard Road Entrance, Brookhaven, NY, 11719
Irish Hunger Memorial
This memorial and park is dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine, also known as "The Great Hunger", during which more than one million people starved to death.
NYC, New York, 10282
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
The Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the home and burial site of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The mansion showcases the restored historical rooms of the house, along with an interactive exhibit showcasing the history and life of Hamilton.
160 Convent Avenue, NYC, New York, 10031
Federal Hall
This is one of the first two historic buildings to be located on Wall Street. It once served as New York's City Hall and after the American Revolution it was the meeting place of the Congress of the Confederation.
Pine Street, NYC, New York, 10005
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
In the heart of Central Park sits the Bethesda Fountain and the Terrace which overlooks it along with the lake. This scenic spot has appeared in multiple films and TV shows over the decades, and it's a very popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Central Park, NYC, New York
African Burial Ground National Monument
African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York City.
NYC, New York
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $22 to $79. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $41. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites

Trinity Church Wall Street
At one time this church was the tallest building in New York. With 23 bells in the tower, it can be heard throughout midtown Manhattan. The historical building is worth a visit to see the gorgeous architecture along with the story of how it has been modified over the centuries.
75 Broadway, New York, New York, 10006
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
This beautiful Roman Catholic church was built in 1892 and sits in the Garment District, and features architecture from the Gothic Revival style. It also features one of the largest mosaics in the United States, making it worth a visit. Another unique service the church offers is its breadline, which has been active since the Great Depression, feeding the hungry.
135 W 31st St, New York, New York
Central Synagogue
Originally opened in 1872, and with various renovations after fires throughout its history (including one in 1998), this historical synagogue has a beautiful Moorish Revival architectural style featuring a large rose window, ornate interior, and cast iron columns. Tours of the sanctuary are available some days of the week depending on events and other factors.
652 Lexington Avenue, 123 East 55th Street, New York, New York
How much does it cost to visit the religious sites of New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $24 to $28. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $25. A few of the best options are below.

Monuments

New York City is home to some of the world's most famous monuments, and it's no accident that many of them are so popular. From the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building, these landmarks are must-sees for any visitor to the city. They have become famous through film and television, as well as having historical stories on their own. They create a sense of wonder and awe in every visitor not just because they are famous, but because they emote a story, a history, and an emotion in everyone. These monuments and memorials are unique to NYC, and are a must-see for everyone.
Williamsburg Bridge
Spanning the East River, the Williamsburg Bridge connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was built between 1896 and 1903 and is made of steel towers and four steel cables. At the time of its completion, the Williamsburg Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Today the bridge has 3 subway lines, a bike path, a walkway, and eight lanes of traffic that go across it. This is also a popular photography spot in the city.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan is one of the city's most famous public parks. Visitors here can find the huge Washington Arch which is a large, marble triumphant arch which serves as a landmark and honors the nation's first president. In front of the arch is a nice fountain. The arch also serves as the terminus for 5th Avenue. Also located in the square is a monument to Alexander Lyman Holley, along with some walking paths, benches, and shaded tree areas which make for a nice and relaxing picnic spot.
Washington Square Village, NYC, New York
Verrazano Narrows Bridge
The Verrazano Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the United States, measuring just over 2.5 miles in length. It crosses "The Narrows" and connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. This is a double-decker bridge that is named for the Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano.
The Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building
This triangular shaped building received its name because it looks like an iron. The surrounding area is named the Flatiron District, after this iconic building.
The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building
This Art-Deco skyscraper continues to be considered one of the New York City's greatest sites. It has 77 floors and a beautiful lobby that is open to the public, although there is no public observation deck.
405 Lexington Ave, New York, NY, 10174
Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry travels between downtown Manhattan and Staten Island. Along the route it offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The ride is free, and it's particularly nice at sunset when the colors are bright and the setting is stunning.
Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is a great place to hang out with a family. There are two miles of waterfront that you can explore with impressive views of Manhattan and Queens. There is also plenty of green space, parks, and a playground. For a picnic, head to the southern tip of the island and grab a spot at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which has views of both Manhattan and Queens.
Manhattan
Queensboro Bridge
Queensboro Bridge
The Queensboro Bridge crosses the East River connecting Manhattan to Queens. It is a very recognizable bridge with its distinct design and two levels. The bridge has vehicle traffic as well as a pedestrian path. It was completed in 1909 and it remains a popular attraction with tourists today.
Queens County Farm Museum
This fun and family-friendly museum lets kids and adults explore everything about life on a farm, including getting to know the animals. They have pigs, alpacas, sheep, goats, and chickens, as well as hay rides, a bush maze, and a variety of education events. They also have seasonal activities such as pumpkin picking in the fall and more. Most days are free, except during special events.
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens, Floral Park, New York, 11004
Liz Christy Garden
This was the first and oldest community garden in New York City.
111 East Houston Street, NYC, New York, 10013
Governor's Island
Head to this island between the months of May and October (it's closed other times of the year). In addition to fountains where kids can play, there's a zip line, rock wall, and even a mini golf course. The national park service also offers educational programming, so it's fun and informative. The island spans 172 acres and it's the perfect place for walking, running, or cycling. There's also a lot of history here. As you arrive on the island, the first thing you'll likely notice is the breathtaking views of the city. Bring your camera and enjoy your day!
New York Harbor
George Washington Bridge
The George Washington Bridge connects New Jersey to Manhattan, crossing over the Hudson River. This is a double-decker suspension bridge that's the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world. It has two towers that are held by four main steel cables. There are 14 lanes for cars and two sidewalks on the upper level.
Empire State Building
Empire State Building
The iconic Empire State Building has long been a symbol of New York City. It's one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and the Art-Deco tower has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1970 and, at 102 stories, it is currently the 2nd tallest in New York City.

A highlight for many visitors to New York is the ride and view from the Top Deck observatory, which offers breathtaking views in every direction.
20 W 34th St, New York, NY, 10001
Edge Observation Deck
Edge Observation Deck
Located at Hudson Yards, this viewpoint sticks out from the 100th floor of one of the tallest buildings in New York, and offers views of all of Manhattan, as well as a glass floor area so you can look down at the streets below (if you have the courage). Enter on the 4th floor of the shops and restaurants at Hudson Yards opposite of the Vessel. And don't forget your camera!
Hudson Boulevard at Hudson Yards, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Sitting on the edge of the water between DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, this park offers a number of great facilities and recreational activities. There's a bouldering wall, a roller skating rink, a pop-up pool during the summer months, and bocce courts. This is the perfect park to enjoy a run or a bike ride. The park also offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline as it meanders along the waterfront, with the most spectacular spot being by Jane's Carousel, between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
Brooklyn
How much does it cost to visit the monuments in New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $15 to $1,595. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $257. A few of the best options are below.

Citi Field
Citi Field is a baseball stadium in Flushing Meadows that is the home of the New York Mets. Anybody interested in baseball will enjoy a visit to Citi Field. There's also activities that kids of all ages can enjoy including a FanFest area and a large family entertainment area.
41 Seaver Way, Queens, NY, 11368

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