New York City's skyline is famous and recognizable. But it didn't always look this way. In fact, the skyline changes every few years as new buildings are constructed and older buildings are taken down. Despite this change, a number of historic buildings still stand strong and proud in the heart of the city. We've put together this list of famous historical buildings in New York so that on your next trip to the Big Apple, you can check them out and experience their beauty and grandeur.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Church of St. Francis Xavier
Located on W. 15th near 6th Avenue, this gorgeous Jesuit church has a Romanesque style. They host regular concerts featuring their choir and handbell ensemble, which is a nice way to spend a relaxing evening away from the hustle of the city.
55 W 15th St, New York, New York, 10011
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This Romanesque Revival style synagogue has a gorgeous exterior and a beautiful interior. Complted in 1929, it's the largest Jewish house of worship in the world. Featuring a large rose window with the star of David, bronze doors, various sculptures inside and outside, and an arch representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The synagogue is open to the public, and tours are available most days.
840 Fifth Ave at East 65th, New York, New York
The City Reliquary
This museum focuses on the history of New York City's five boroughs.
366 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, NYC, New York, 11211
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 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
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
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
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.
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
This beautiful cathedral hosts concerts and tours in addition to regular church services for locals and visitors alike. With construction beginning in the late 1800's and not completed until after World War II, this cathedral took quite awhile to finish, but it was well worth the effort given the gorgeous interior.
1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, New York, 10025
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Blackwell Island Light
This is a stone lighthouse that was built in 1872. It's located at the northeast end of Roosevelt Island in the East River.
NYC, New York, 10044
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.
Gehry New York
This is the tallest all-residential building in North America. It has 900 rental units and stands 76 stories tall. While the building is closed to the public, it is included in many walking tours of Lower Manhattan and it can be seen as you cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
8 Spruce Street Tower
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.
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
Metropolitan Life Tower
Don't confuse this building with the MetLife Building at Grand Central Terminal. This tower faces Madison Square Park and has 50 floors. A premiere feature of the tower is the clocks on all fours sides of the tower. Each clock has a face that's 27 feet and each number is four feet tall.
New York Life Building
This Gothic Revival style building serves as the headquarters for the New York Life Insurance Company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New York City has some of the most stunning architecture in the world. After all, this is the city that made skyscrapers famous. The iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building, are instantly recognizable, and the historic brownstones, townhouses, and churches are architectural masterpieces. Every year, more interesting designs pop up next to the historic buildings that we have come to love for decades. For example, the new Vessel at Hudson Yards is becoming very popular after its opening in 2019, while the historic art deco Chrysler Building stands the test of time. Below are even more architectural gems in the city that are worth visiting, whether you just breeze by for a glimpse or spend hours admiring it.
The Cloisters is located in a park by the Hudson Rivers and you can reach it by following a charming path that leads to a castle. This is where you'll find the Met's medieval art and architecture collections. Popular exhibits include the Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
99 Margaret Corbin Drive, New York, NY, 10040
How much does it cost to experience the architecture of New York City?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $48 to $100. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $66. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in New York City