• Living

9 Little Known Places to Visit in New York City (That Aren’t Tourist Traps)

3 minute read

The New York Federal Reserve’s Gold Vault

A real-life Mt. Doom, this vault is the world’s largest storehouse of treasure. You can see its 7,000 tons of gold—5 percent of all that was ever mined, even more than Ft. Knox—which is now worth $273 billion. The vault was robbed in Die Hard With a Vengeance, but you’ll never get away with it. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

The Explorers Club Headquarters

A stuffed polar bear. Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki globe. A “yeti scalp.” The spectacular Explorers Club is stuffed to the rafters with the treasures, curios, maps, and books collected by the world’s greatest adventurers. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

A Panorama of the City of New York

Constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair, and updated recently, this basketball-court sized model shows the entire, sprawling city, with tiny scale versions of every single one of the 895,000 buildings in the five boroughs. Circumnavigate it on a catwalk, and feel like an emperor! (Queens) More at Atlas Obscura.

Harry Houdini’s Grave

Fans still gather at the grave of the magician, awaiting his escape from death. For years it was the site of Halloween séances. Now Houdini’s admirers leave decks of cards and tarots for him. (Queens) More at Atlas Obscura.

The Earth Room

For nearly 40 years, this loft space has been filled two-feet deep with dirt, sometimes sprouting mushrooms. It’s an art installation, not poor housekeeping, and the room is a peaceful, quiet sanctuary from the city bustle below. The dirt is valued at a million dollars; the real estate is worth a lot more. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

The Pratt Institute Engine Room

With its glistening 19th century steam generators and its marble switchboard, it’s heaven for steampunks. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.


Exhausted by huge museums and giant exhibitions? Then Mmuseumm is the place for you: a museum housed in a freight elevator. The quirky, tiny collection includes that shoe that was hurled at President George W. Bush in Iraq. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

The John M. Mossman Lock Collection

A gorgeous display of more than 300 antique bank locks, each more ornate, more complex, and more fiendish than the last. (Manhattan) More at Atlas Obscura.

Marilyn Monroe’s Grate, and the Ghostbusters Firehouse

New York is jammed with real-life movie locations, but these are two of the most iconic. Hook and Ladder 8 was the Ghostbusters firehouse. The most famous subway grate in the world is at the corner of Lexington and 52nd. It’s where, during The Seven Year Itch, a passing 6 subway train blew up Marilyn Monroe’s dress. (Manhattan) More on the firehouse and the subway grate in Atlas Obscura.

This article was written by David Plotz for Atlas Obscura.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com