The lesser known treasures of New York City

I’ve done three other posts on NYC previously (here, here and here) so thought there might not be a lot to report, except this time we made some discoveries which I thought might be worth posting about.

First up is the not so hidden side of the city: the trip to Hoboken by ferry is a lovely thing to do. These ferries helped people escape from downtown after the 9/11 attacks and the ferry attendant on one of our trips regaled us with stories of the evacuation. He also took our photo – you can see it was freezing and windy!


Although the ferry ride is lovely, the ferry and train terminus is exquisite. The outside is aged copper and “Lackawanna” is apparently derived from the Lackawanna Steel Company, although our ferry guide told us it was an American Indian tribe. Not sure whether to believe him or the internet!


The terminal is a quite remarkable example of the Beaux Arts architectural style and  here is the Hoboken side of the terminus, showing the detail on the building.


The first thing that hits the visitor to the waiting hall is the Tiffany glass ceiling. I’m sure I haven’t done it justice here.


The ceiling had been boarded over and was only discovered recently when they renovated the space. The integrity of the building has been maintained beautifully with original light fittings, gorgeous stained glass signs and lovely mouldings (Australian English spelling here).IMG_1838

They kept the shoe shine stand, but I don’t think it’s in operation any more.


And the gorgeous seating with Tiffany glass shades over the top.


The trip to Hoboken is really worth while. It has a nice shopping strip with restaurants and coffee shops and also a most wonderful chocolate shop!!

Also to be discovered is all the street art. I could put hundreds of photos up here, but chose this one, which was taken in Brooklyn. There are street art walking tours to be taken if that’s your thing.


Ok, now for a couple of hidden things! First up is the City Hall Station which is now decommissioned, but which is stunningly beautiful. There are a couple of ways of seeing this, one of which is to take a tour and the other is to just stay on the subway 6 train as it turns round at the end of the track, which is illegal and therefore I’m not going to say which way I saw it!

photo credit: John-Paul Palescandolo

There are several secret subway tunnels and descriptions can be found here

The next time I visit NY I am definitely going to try and visit a couple more of these.

We found the Elevated Acre which is in Water Street in the Financial District. We had to laugh because this is in the same street as the office where Archie works and he had never seen it before. The Financial District is known as FiDi and it must have taken me several days to stop calling it Fido! This is a garden which is a couple of stories above street level and overlooks the Hudson River. It was still beautiful in winter when everything is basically dead and I think it must look really something when all the plants are green and in flower.


Greenwich Village is home to one of the world’s narrowest houses. It is number 751/2 Bedford Street and the house is 9.5 feet wide. It has been home to many notable people including anthropologist Margaret Mead and actors Cary Grant and John Barrymore. I think it would be an inconvenient place to live as it is all spiral staircases and trapdoors.


This English Elm is reportedly the oldest tree in Manhattan, being an estimated 310 years old. It is known as the Hangman’s Elm, although it appears that there is no evidence that people were hanged from the tree.  It stands in a corner of Washington Square Park which was also a Potter’s field and I read somewhere that they estimate that 20,000 people remain interred under the park. That’s a lot of people!


This tree is so tall that I had to use the panoramic setting on my camera, which is why the buildings are curved. They aren’t like this in real life!

On the day we arrived in New York, Mark noticed the Downton Abbey Exhibition advertised on the top of a taxi. We didn’t see it advertised anywhere else our whole trip, so it was a really lucky observation. I thought that Hélène might like to come with me and was delighted when she said yes. We had such fun! Here she is admiring the wedding dresses.


Another shot of some of these amazing dresses


Seeing dresses in closeup that I had admired whilst watching the show was a real thrill and the detail is just breathtaking. Some of these dresses are originals from the era.


Much of the exhibition was set up in a series of rooms and this is the bedroom. That kimono totally had me drooling!IMG_1892

There was a display of needlework implements. The pin cushion is tapestry and I loved the box of thimbles. The case at the front contains needles and all sorts of implements some of which I can identify.


I thought I’d finish with this outfit which I would be totally happy wearing today. Isn’t it gorgeous?


If you are a fan of the show and have an opportunity to see the exhibition I would thoroughly recommend it. The use of video to draw the visitors into the show was really imaginative, and there were some interactive activities – Hélène and I applied for a position and managed to get ourselves shortlisted for the position of lady’s maid!

We have now moved on from New York, but I don’t think it will be our last visit.



26 thoughts on “The lesser known treasures of New York City

  1. The Lackawanna were (are) a tribe in Pennsylvania. They were there centuries before the gas company. I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts about your trip through our country. It is interesting to see “our” country from a “forgieners” viewpoint. We citizens become so jaded by the minutiae. Thank you for sharing your enjoyment. Renita in NC

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know this Renita. I know what you mean about seeing your country through a foreigner’s eyes as it’s the same for me.

  2. What a meaningful post to me! I am so glad you took me to Hoboken with you, otherwise I would never have discovered that place and its historic beauties. Your photos are splendid. And visiting the Downton Abbey exhibit with you made it all the more exquisite. Remember how the friendly doorman was surprised to see us leaving after three hours! I think few people stayed that long (and chatted so much)! He didn’t know us…

  3. What lovely adventures you had in New York / New Jersey. I livd in NYC when I was in my 20’s in the 1990’s and went to see lots of bands playing at a bar in Holboken – I certainly never noticed the amazing ferry building then. Its beautiful!

  4. Thank you for sharing the details of your lovely visit in New York! This is certainly a city we should visit one day, too!
    I had already read about the dresses used in Downton Abbey and that a lot of them were from the era. I am looking forward seeing your kimono! How funny when seeing the needle display! I own that book in German. It was printed in a city in Alsace, France, 60km away. There is an industrie of fabric printing since 250 years.

  5. Another wonderful vicarious tour. That waiting room is really fabulous.
    I’m not sure the Downton Abbey exhibition has been shown here – if it has I missed it. Hopefully not so I can see it in the future 😃.

  6. You do such fun things-hope to get back to New York and stay a bit longer ! Where are we off to next?

  7. You are seeing places in America, I have not had the opportunity to see and it’s wonderful ‘travelling’ along with you guys. The architecture is beautiful! Representing another era… and time. So stunning in 2018, cannot imagine what it must’ve seemed to folks all those years ago. The Downton Abbey exhibit is lovely and I can so see you wearing that beautiful outfit! 🙂

    1. We adore the architecture and I tale so many photos of buildings. The Downton Abbey exhibition was fabulous and I feel so privileged to have seen it. Thanks Lisa!

  8. I have loved all of your latest posts on NYC and Washington and feel that I have been along for the ride with you and Mark, as well as Helene. It must have been lovely staying in NY and seeing your son too.

    1. Thank you Marjorie, it was so lovely to see Archie, and we were sad to leave him, but we’ll see him in April when he comes home for our other son’s wedding.

  9. Sue, your travel blogs are wonderful. As much as I enjoy your sewing blogs, I adore your travel ones. Thank you again for the one on the World Trade Center and 9/11 tribute. It made me cry. And the details you picked out to share are ones I wasn’t aware of. I can’t wait to see what you find in San Fran. Jean

    1. I’m so sorry I made you cry Jean, but you were in good company! We are loving San Fran and I have done all the usual stuff, but will see if I can find some extra things that aren’t generally known. Thank you for the lovely comment.

  10. I have thoroughly enjoyed your traveling posts, and this one particularly. I love off the beaten path treasures. Thank you so much for sharing! I have only been to NYC once, many years ago, with the specific purpose of taking in a Broadway show, and there was no time to enjoy the rest of the city. Your posts have made me want to take a longer trip to get to know the city a bit better.

    1. I like the hidden treasures too. NYC is definitely a city worth spending time in, especially once you’ve done the mandatory tourist things as there are so many lovely things to do, especially fabric shopping!

  11. What a wonderful post! I love stuff like that. That station is beautiful! So many good other pictures too. I loved those kind of houses like the one you posted too. Good job, keep up the good work.

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