Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little Known Secrets Of New York City

This article is about places of interest that give refuge and a history lesson in some of the largest cities in the world.    Places of interest where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle and spend some quiet time with yourself while learning a little bit of unusual history.

New York City:

Hidden Subway Station Beneath City Hall
The New York City subway has long been the country's most comprehensive transportation system, and now it even lets you travel back in time. The majestic subway station underneath City Hall has been inactive for nearly 65 years, closing for good on December 31, 1945. The station is an underground architectural marvel, with tall arched ceilings covered in antique tile and glass skylights that flood the space with natural light from above. It's been sealed like a time capsule since then, but you can officially see it with your own eyes (from inside a subway car). Here's how: take the 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station (the last stop, if you're heading south), but don't get off. The train will turn around the City Hall station loop, which will give you a one-of-a-kind view of the otherwise unreachable location. Until recently, passengers were supposed to exit the train at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station before it made the turnaround and only attendees of special events or tours sponsored by the MTA and New York City Transit Museum (or anyone who managed to linger on the train) could see this gem.

Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal has many secrets (just for starters: Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his own underground passageway that led to the Waldorf=Astoria hotel), but the Whispering Gallery is its most romantic. This unmarked archway, located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, possesses a mystifying acoustic property: when two people stand at diagonal arches and whisper, they can hear each other's voices "telegraphed" from across the way. According to rumor, jazz legend Charles Mingus liked to play under the arches. Today, though, the Whispering Gallery is more popular for murmured marriage proposals. Just don't confess anything that you don't want strangers to overhear! —AB


Rooftop Gardens at Rockefeller Center
Some of the most beautiful gardens in New York are hidden—hundreds of feet above the ground. Rockefeller Center maintains five spectacular roof gardens originally designed by English landscaper Ralph Hancock between 1933 and 1936. The gardens have been closed since 1938, but three can be spied from the Top of the Rock observation deck. And there's a chance you've seen at least one close up: the garden atop the British Empire Building appears in a scene from the 2002 film Spider-Man. —AB  Find a seat and enjoy the view of the gardens.


Berlin Wall Remnants in Paley Park
Nestled in a small Midtown plaza at 520 Madison Avenue is an unexpected piece of history. Five sections of the Berlin Wall, in total measuring 12 feet high and 20 feet long, have been on display here since 1990. The wall's western-facing side is covered with dazzling work by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. The eastern side, meanwhile, remains a blank slab of concrete—a reminder of the oppressive political regime in the former East Germany. At first glance, this artifact appears to be just another public mural; it goes largely unnoticed by the office workers who sit in the park on their lunch break. —AB

 bowerycemetery_v1_460x285.jpgThe access to this is very restricted so make sure that you are here on the fourth Sunday of each month from April to October, but it is worth the wait as it is very quiet and a place to reflect.

Cemetery Behind the Bowery Hotel
Bowery Hotel guests who gaze through the lobby's back window often admire the tranquil green lawn located behind the building. But few realize that they're actually glimpsing a hidden cemetery. (Part of the confusion: the deceased are interred in underground marble vaults marked by plaques, not tombstones.) Founded in 1830, the New York Marble Cemetery, located in what is now the East Village, is the City's oldest nondenominational public burial ground—and also one of the hardest to find. The cemetery gate is located at the end of a narrow alley leading from Second Avenue; it's unlocked to visitors only for a few hours on the fourth Sunday of each month from April to October. —AB


Pomander Walk
Twenty-seven buildings resembling Tudor homes with colorful doors, shutters and timber frames grace this gated street that's tucked away on the Upper West Side, nearly completely out of view to passersby. Originally conceived as a temporary property that was to be knocked down and replaced with a hotel, Pomander Walk—which is modeled after an old London street and the set of a stage play, both of the same name—earned landmark status in 1982. Surrounded by buildings that tower hundreds of feet above its rooftops, this pedestrian-only lane of residences is a peaceful respite from the people and cars that hustle and bustle past its wrought-iron gates every day, unaware of the sanctuary within. You can't access the hidden haven unless you have a key or know someone who does, but the picturesque spot is still worth a peek through the gate. —EO

  The Labyrinth for Contemplation in Battery Park.
The Battery Conservancy created the Battery Labyrinth to commemorate the one year anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. It offers the public a way to reflect, honor and heal. It is a walking path outlined with 1148 granite blocks that forms seven circular rings. Designed by Camino de Paz Labyrinths, it runs approximately 358 feet to the center core and then 358 out again to the entrance. A labyrinth is not a maze, in which confusion is the aim. A labyrinth encourages contemplation on a journey with a clear destination. Its goal is to create an internal balance generated by the rhythm of the walking and the mental state of no decision-making.
The labyrinth sits within Jerusalem Grove--a grove of 11 Blue Atlas Cedars (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca') fronted with inscribed horizontal marker. The cedars were a gift from Israel and dedicated on July 8, 1976.

Uploaded by on Apr 3, 2011
a friend turned me on to this place a while back. It's situated in a north west corner of Battery Park, in one of the most traveled areas, by tourists, because it's near the dock for the boat that goes to the Statue of Liberty, and yet, very few people know this place exists. From the outside, it looks like a fenced off part of the park. But there's a little door you can enter through, and then as you walk towards it, it opens itself up to you, and welcomes you.
It's an oasis, for it's mindful clearing and meditative design. the peace you have, by being there. I was there around sunset on this cool crisp April day. I truly needed to be here. I was uptown and feeling totally stressed, both mentally and physically... and after 5 minutes. I just sat and became present and found myself.

License:  Standard YouTube License

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