The Empire State, Flatiron and Chrysler buildings are New York icons. But the legendary city’s skyline is hiding other architectural gems worth visiting – without the queues.
The Met Cloisters
Most tourists will pass through New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (or enjoy a hotdog on its famous steps). One of its most striking attractions, however, is located in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park on a 1.5-hectare property facing the Hudson River. Opened in 1938, the Cloisters branch of The Met is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It’s from this period that its unique design inspiration was drawn, with elements of genuine medieval cloisters incorporated into the building’s structure and gardens planted and maintained according to horticultural records from the Middle Ages.
99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park
Tiffany & Co. Flagship Store
It’s easy to be distracted by what’s inside the Tiffany & Co. Flagship Store, opened to the public in 1940, but the Art Deco building hides some intriguing design history. The appointment-only Tiffany Salon, the former studio of designer Jean Schlumberger, opened in 2010, houses the company’s rarest jewels, while the renowned Atlas clock mounted over the store’s main entrance is older than the store itself, having been brought over from the original Tiffany & Co. location on Broadway. The Flagship Store is also home to the Tiffany Diamond – one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered – which is usually on display on the main floor and well worth a peek.
727 5th Avenue, Midtown East
American Radiator Building
With its conspicuous black-and-gold façade – intended to symbolise coal and fire respectively – the American Radiator Building (also known as the American Standard Building) cuts a striking figure against the mostly neutral palette of New York City’s streetscape. Built in 1924 for the American Radiator Company – and since converted into the luxury Bryant Park Hotel – the original lobby also brought the drama, decorated throughout with black mirrors and marble. Today, Gothic features remain in the hotel’s cavernous Cellar Bar and its dark hues have been carried through to the exclusive Koi Restaurant.
40 West 40th Street, Midtown
Fraunces Tavern and Museum
It may be surprising to learn that one of Manhattan’s oldest buildings is an unassuming but artfully maintained English-style pub. Constructed in 1719 as a private home and then converted into an alehouse in 1762, the Georgian building went on to hold the first offices for the State, War and Treasury departments before becoming a tavern for the second time – one that was frequented by America’s Founding Fathers. It was at the Fraunces that beloved general George Washington bid farewell to his officers at the end of the American Revolutionary War. Today it’s part museum, part pub and it serves a mean chicken pot pie.
54 Pearl Street, Lower Manhattan
St Paul’s Chapel
As New York City buildings go, St Paul’s Chapel is a miniscule blip and it’s not much to look at when compared with the neo-Gothic grandeur of Midtown’s St Patrick’s Cathedral or the historical significance of nearby Trinity Church. But it’s the chapel’s tale of resilience that makes it worth visiting. Known colloquially as “The Little Chapel That Stood”, it’s not only the oldest surviving church in Manhattan but also one of the few buildings that survived the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 – which some consider miraculous given its proximity to the Twin Towers. The chapel was undamaged, believed to have been protected from falling debris by an old sycamore tree, and served as a vital place of rest for exhausted emergency services personnel.
209 Broadway, Lower Manhattan
“The world’s best-known apartment building”, The Dakota was one of the city’s first luxury residential buildings, boasting tennis courts, four-metre-high ceilings, staff living quarters and unrivalled views of Central Park. Later, it attracted celebrity tenants such as Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland and – perhaps most famously – Yoko Ono and John Lennon, who was assassinated there. Today, it still occupies prime real estate, with some of the 10-plus-bedroom apartments selling for up to $US30 million.
1 West 72nd Street, Upper West Side