Bits Of Old New York Here Today

New York City is 401 years old. It has survived hurricanes, fires, riots, economic upsets, and rampant urban renewal. In spite of all of that there are still vestiges of the city left from eras gone by, some large some small. Here are a few places to check out.

42nd St. Subway Station, Knickerbocker Hotel Entrance

If you ever walk towards the Times Square S train platform look to your right and you’ll see this door with the word “KNICKERBOCKER” emblazoned on the top. The door was part of the Knickerbocker Hotel which opened in 1906 almost 2 years after the NYC subway began operations. This the hotel was a masterpiece of Beaux Arts Architecture, fifteen stories tall located on the corner of Forty-Second Street and Broadway. It’s existence was proof that the subway turned this neighborhood to the new must-go destination in Manhattan. To capitalize on the subway’s ability to move people, the hotel arranged to have an entrance into the station, allowing guests to enter its underground bars and restaurants.

In spite of it’s ideal location, the hotel closed in 1920. In 2015 it officially re-opened, branding itself on the hotel’s original glamour. The door unfortunately will remain closed.

Financial District, St Paul’s Chapel

The oldest church building on Manhattan Island, and one of the oldest buildings left in the city. Built in 1766, 10 years before the American Revolution, it has remained in operation ever since. It lasted so long because it was made of stone. It survived a massive fire in the year 1776, that burned down 500 buildings. The building was also spared damage on 9/11 even though it was across the street from the disaster site. This house of worship was used by countless New Yorkers including George Washington, who worshiped there whenever he was in New York, including the year that New York City was the US capital. In his honor, the church sectioned off the pew where he used to sit.

The Lone Dirty Brick In The Grand Central Ceiling

Granted Grand Central Station itself is a historical throwback, built by the Grand Central Railroad in 1871, it’s now the destination for commuter trains that feed the city with office workers, sports fans, and tourists. It existed back when the trains were originally at street level, and lasted through a massive construction project to bury the adjacent train-yard and train tracks under park avenue. However one little anachronism is left on the ceiling of the main waiting room from the massive cleaning of the station back in the mid 1990’s. Decades of smoking left the ceiling black, and after painstaking restoration we can now see the stunning designed map of the constellations. One spot, was left untouched, to prove to future New Yorkers the extent of the dirt (and the dangers of smoking). It shows the ceiling as it was, before the renovations.

– Mark Gilman, Tour Guide


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