Seven Can’t Miss Historical Sights in New York City

All around the globe, people list New York City among the greatest cities of the modern world. The city has a dynamic culture, with many different neighborhoods and ethnic groups contributing to the food, fashion, music, and art scenes throughout the five boroughs. 

Founded in the 17th Century by Henry Hudson, New York boasts a rich history, including many incredible historical landmarks that still stand today.
Though there are many buildings with historical importance, travelers should include these seven institutions if they want to get a good overview of the city and its magnificent history.



The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building, completed in 1930, exemplifies the luxurious and glamorous Art Deco style that was popular in the early 20th century. Its signature triangle-shaped windows and a brick relief sculpture of racing cars pay homage to its automotive namesake.

The Chrysler Building stands tall on New York’s famed skyline at 1,046 feet. This measurement includes the stainless-steel spire, which briefly earned it the title of Manhattan's tallest skyscraper.

After securing that title, the Chrysler Building only remained the highest building in the city for approximately 11 months, until the Empire State Building — at 1,454 feet with its antenna — reached completion in 1931. Contemporary buildings change the skyline all the time, but none compare to the Chrysler Building’s sophisticated style.

Location: 42nd Street between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue


The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Most people who visit New York City know about St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity Church, but few are familiar with the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Despite its more famous neighbors, Saint John’s is the fourth largest Christian church in the world, and it occupies a unique spot in the history of New York.

Nicknamed Saint John the Unfinished, the construction of the church has been ongoing since breaking ground in 1892. Various parts of the church reflect the different construction styles over the last 130 years, including a 601-foot cathedral. Also, there is a gothic revival section that boasts an immense art studio famous for hosting some of the most interesting exhibitions in the world.

Location: 1047 Amsterdam Avenue


Carnegie Hall

First envisioned by Andrew Carnegie in 1891, Carnegie Hall has hosted some of the world’s most preeminent performers from nearly every genre, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. The venue has perfect acoustics, thanks to several minor construction improvements over the years.

Upcoming performances include the Philadelphia Orchestra, famed violinist Janine Jansen, and the New York Pops.

Location: 881 Seventh Avenue


The Federal Hall Memorial

Other buildings on Wall Street often overshadow the Federal Hall Memorial even though many people consider Federal Hall as the most historically significant edifice on the list. The original Federal Hall marks the site of several important events in America’s early history, including President George Washington’s inauguration and the first presentation of the Bill of Rights to Congress. It was also America’s first capitol building.
The public can view the Memorial, erected in the Greek Revival style, for free. It’s easily identified by the 12-foot-tall bronze statue of our first President presiding over the front entrance.

Location: 26 Wall Street



Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater, which opened in 1934, was one of the first theaters to allow black patrons. Previously, a whites-only burlesque club occupied the spot.

Located in Harlem, the Apollo Theater boasts a long list of legendary performers, including famed jazz performer Ella Fitzgerald, Godfather of Soul James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix, who won one of the theaters famous Wednesday Amateur Night contests in 1964.

The theater gained national fame for its syndicated television show “Showtime at the Apollo,” which ran from 1987 through 2008.

Location: 253 West 125th Street


Governors Island

Formerly a joint U.S. Army-U.S. Coast Guard base, Governor’s Island has some of the most diverse history of any site on our list. Governor’s Island has over 10 acres of park land, two large coastal forts utilized in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and a large open space used for hosting concerts and festivals during the summer.

Accessible to visitors only by ferry, you will enjoy beautiful views of Manhattan and Brooklyn while you travel to your destination.

Location: Governor’s Island (see ferry schedule for additional details)



The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library remains one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Completed in 1911, the library serves as both a museum and a functioning library, with hundreds of students, tourists, and dedicated readers flowing through its doors daily. With over 125 miles of shelving, including 40,000 restaurant menus dating back to the mid-19th century, there’s something for everyone in this elegant architectural treasure.
Location: Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street

Offering the perfect combination of style, culture, and significance, these sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of the great city of New York.