Rockefeller Plaza, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway, Central Park, the Empire State Building and Times Square are the top traditional entries on most people’s list of things to see and do when visiting NYC. It would be a shame to go home and have to admit that any one of these attractions were somehow missed.
In a city of this size and magnitude, it stands to reason there have to be some strange and quirky things hiding from the typical tourist’s view. Places not advertised. Places tucked away on side streets where they don’t receive the attention they deserve.
If you’re planning on visiting the Big Apple don’t make your list of things you don’t want to miss until you consider some of the following.
1 Museum of Sex
Only open to those 18-years-old or above, the museum hosts a collection of 15,000 sexually related artifacts to include weird inventions, art, photos, movies, and clothing. The museum’s founder, Donald Gluck, wanted to take the taboo subject of sex and present it in a more scholarly way as a historical education.
When Glock was refused non-profit status, the porn industry offered their funding. He politely declined.
2 Museum of the American Gangster
In the 1960’s, Harold Otway bought a place called Theater 80. When Otway began renovated the building in 1964, he discovered a series of underground tunnels and two safes. After cracking the safes open he found $2,000,000 in gold certificates. Unfortunately, they had expired.
It was determined the theater at one time had been an elaborate speakeasy owned by the notorious gangster, Walter Sheib, and the entrance was through a butcher shop around the corner. The butcher shop is long gone and an Afghan restaurant sits in its place.
Two rooms are now a museum filled with gangster memorabilia such as cracked safes, bullets from the St. Valentines Day Massacre, moonshine stills, whiskey made during the prohibition era and more. Visitors can tour the tunnels with the original telephones and a mass of wires designed to blow the building to kingdom come in the event of a raid, guests and all.
3 Times Square Hum
It’s easy to get caught up in the fervor of Times Square. There is so much to see and hear at one time it has sent many a visitor’s brain into overload. But unless these visitors were incredibly observant, they missed out on a very cool landmark. Most people do.
In 1977, Max Neuhaus, an artist, conducted an experiment by placing a hum producing device under a grate in a busy Times Square intersection to see if any of the thousands of pedestrians passing over it daily would notice. Very few did. But to those who did hear it, and later found out what it was, it became sort of a secret landmark.
Neuhaus removed it 1992, but it was almost immediately restored by a local art foundation, and it’s still there.
4 A Garbage Depot of Treasure
Over 20 years ago, a sanitation engineer by the name of Nelson Molina started collecting trash from his route to spruce up his garage. Before long his friends got in on the action and started adding things they picked out of the garbage from Manhattan’s elite. Antique lamps, art deco items, fake flowers, paintings, and anything they thought would add character to the collection.
Since sanitation workers can get in big trouble for taking things out of peoples trash, but the collection was just so awesome, Molina was allowed to keep his treasure but could only show it to other sanitation workers. The public is now allowed to look at it but they must call the sanitation department for permission.
5 Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic Subway Grate
Hordes of pedestrians stampede over this sewer grate day and night with very few of them realizing who once stood where their size 11 Nike with a wad of gum on one sole, just stepped. It’s the air-blasting grate that had Miss Monroe’s skirt trying to fly up over her head on the morning of Sept. 15, 1954, as thousands of anxious fans watched. Her husband Joe DiMaggio didn’t like what he saw and the couple later battled it out in their hotel room. A couple of weeks later Monroe asked DiMaggio to sign divorce papers.
It’s on the corner of Lexington Ave., and 52nd St., in Manhattan, in front of a French restaurant named Le Relais de Venise.
6 The Oldest Manhole Cover in the City
Over 150 years old, this manhole allowed access to an aqueduct that was later drained to make way for Central Park. It’s on Jersey Street where horse and buggies used to drive over it. Go to Central Park. At 85th street take a small path to the left and walk about 70 steps.
7 Graffiti Hall of Fame
Yes. Graffiti is an art form. Located in Harlem, at Jackie Robinson Educational Complex, the concrete walls are reserved for the best internationally known graffiti street artists. They are covered by the professional work of these artists and they are nothing short of amazing.
“Once Upon a Time” Bathroom Mural by Keith Haring
This is not your ordinary bathroom stall door etching of something you would prefer not to see. In 1989, Haring painted the last of his major murals before succumbing to AIDS in 1990. It was created in honor of the Stonewall Riots, which are marked the start of the LGBT rights movement. Haring was asked to create the mural. He chose all four walls of the second-floor bathroom as his canvas.
Because he didn’t prime the paint it began to fade but was restored in 2012 and opened to the public. Other pieces of art by LGBT artists are also on display. Some of Haring’s paintings have sold for as much as $2.5 million so this could be the most valuable bathroom in the entire city.
When you get to NYC, why not jump off the beaten path and forget about the things everyone else goes there to see. Imagine the pictures you’ll be able to show your friends and the stories that will go along with them.