There are a lot of neat places in New York, tourist attraction or otherwise, which is why we were pretty shocked to learn that one of the most photographed spots in the city is the Fifth Avenue Apple Store. (The findings were based on one researcher’s experiment with Flickr geotags.) Considering a person there could just turn around and take a picture of the gorgeous and historic Plaza, it seemed a little stupid that the Apple Store was getting so much attention. So we’ve compiled 10 more under-the-radar spots in the city that would be far better for photo ops.
1. Alice in Wonderland mosaic at the 50th Street 1 station
Perhaps, if we’re going to get metaphorical, because New York is something of a Wonderland itself, Alice pops up throughout the city, but Liliana Porter’s “Alice: The Way Out” is our favorite. You first catch a glimpse of the blue mosaic figures of Alice, the Mad Hatter, and others as the 1 train pulls into 50th Street, and really, is there a more apt rabbit hole than the New York City subway system?
2. The Hotel Chelsea
Snap a shot of yourself in front of the Hotel Chelsea (or Chelsea Hotel, if you prefer), where an abundant number of plaques detailing who wrote what there decorate the facade. But its legend goes beyond the names on its door, which include Dylan Thomas and Arthur Miller; the Chelsea was long a place writers, musicians, and artists congregated. Now its future is uncertain, having been put up for sale in October.
3. Keith Haring Altarpiece in St. John the Divine
While the enormous cathedral is certainly worth a camera’s attention, what grabs our eye is a small triptych altarpiece by Keith Haring in St. Savior’s Chapel. Though it might look traditional from far away, up close the work is filled with Haring’s recognizable, faceless figures.
4. Governors Island
Now that it’s officially summertime, Governors Island is open for business. The former military stronghold is a place for indie bands and polo matches, but also features photogenic 19th-century homes and views of Manhattan. For kitschy modern fare, there’s the “beach:” a man-made structure that serves as concert venue. Last year, we grabbed a shot of the fake multicolored, light-up palm trees with the Staten Island Ferry going by.
5. 455 Central Park West
A former cancer hospital turned nursing home turned condominium building, this structure looks like a medieval castle plopped down on the Upper West Side. Some consider it “haunted.”
6. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park has beautiful views and claims to be “one of the city’s best bird-watching spots” (though we are partial to the hawk cam).
7. New York Central Railroad 69th Street Transfer Bridge
At another spot on the Hudson, this ruin of a bridge emerges out of the water looking like something a pirate might come across or, oddly, a guillotine. It was originally used to help cars get to barges on the river, but looks even better, we’re assuming, in disuse. It’s a nice alternative to the Trump buildings on land.
8. The New York Marble Cemetery
On Second Avenue, this cemetery, the oldest “non-sectarian” cemetery in the city, looks more like a walled park. There are no headstones because when the cemetery was constructed in the 19th century, fear of yellow fever caused legislators to ban earth graves. The bodies were interred 10 feet below the ground around the surrounding block in marble vaults. Family names are featured on plaques on the cemetery’s wall. The cemetery is rarely open, though — only the fourth Sunday of every month when the weather is warm. (There is also the New York City Marble Cemetery nearby.)
9. East Village gardens
If gardens without names of the dead are more to your liking, the East Village is also home to a number of community gardens.
And just because we love animals, we’ll end in Central Park — a tourist trap already — at the statue of Balto. Not that Balto’s story of delivering antitoxin to an Alaskan town suffering from diphtheria has anything to do with New York. His statue is pretty cute, though.