They say that living in the Big Apple for 10 years makes someone a true New Yorker. By that point, you know where to find the best Sunday brunch, the best cup of joe, and the best route to get crosstown during rush hour. But, at Haute Living, we think that being a real New Yorker is so much more than that. It’s about knowing the ins and outs of our little city—the secret gardens, the abandoned tunnels, the forgotten burial grounds—and that could take months, years, or even a lifetime. To help you on your quest of becoming a bonafide New Yorker, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite secret spots that you won’t find in any guidebook.
Grand Central Whispering Gallery
Tucked inside the chaos of Grand Central Terminal lies one of the most romantic spots in all of NYC—the famed Whispering Gallery. The four unmarked archways, which are located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, possess a strange acoustic ability—they allow even the slightest sound to travel clear across the room. If you and a friend each stand at diagonal corners and whisper something while facing the walls of the building, you’ll be able to hear each other as clearly as if you were standing side by side.
Subway station beneath City Hall
Turns out, Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall isn’t the last stop on the 6 train. There’s a massive hidden station underneath City Hall that’s been closed for 70 years. Featuring tall arched ceilings, antique tiles, and glass skylights that blanket the space in natural sunlight, it’s truly a sight to be seen. And now you can—without the the use of Google image. To do so, take the 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station (the final stop, if you’re heading south), but don’t exit. The train will turn on a loop and give you a glimpse into the shuttered station.
Ancient burial ground in Washington Square Park
Beneath the clusters of college coeds—and Zagat rated dosas cart (another NYC hidden treasure) lies a secret so spooky that it might give you nightmares. More than 20,000 bodies, according to an archaeological assessment by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, are buried beneath the grassy landscape under varying depths of fill. Historically, the site was reserved for burying unknown or indigent people when they died, but when NYC underwent yellow fever epidemics in the early 19th century, its victims were also buried there.
Bar entrance inside East Village hot dog stand
New York is full of bars and restaurants with no signage or visible address designed to keep the riff raff away. But Please Don’t Tell on St. Marks Pl. takes it one step further. To enter the famed speakeasy, patrons need to walk through Crif Dogs hot dogs, and locate the unmarked phone booth on the back wall. After dialing the number, the “wall” of the photo booth opens and you’re at the entranceway of a secret bar.
Rooftop gardens at Rockefeller Center
To see truly beautiful greenery in Manhattan, skip Central Park and look up! Located several hundred feet above the ground—on the rooftop of Rockefeller Center—are five breathtaking gardens, originally designed by English landscaper Ralph Hancock between 1933 and 1936. Though the gardens have been closed to the public since 1938, you can sneak a peak from the Top of the Rock observation deck.