A History-Buff’s Guide to NYC

New York City is a major history-hub, and the best way to learn about the history is to truly immerse yourself in the culture yourself! First founded by the Dutch along the Hudson River in 1624, New Amsterdam was established 2 years later on Manhattan Island. The English later took over the area in 1664, renaming the city New York.  Between 1892 and 1954, millions of immigrants arrived in New York Harbor, first passing through Ellis Island on their journey to becoming U.S citizens. Throughout the many years, the city has evolved in various manners and the melting pot of cultures is truly evident throughout. From the Bronx, Harlem, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, visit New York and explore its rich history from the inside out, down cobblestoned streets and over the river. Check out some of our most recommended historical sites throughout the city.  

New York Historical Society

This may be the best location to learn about specific time periods in New York City’s past. You will also find historical artifacts dating back to the pre-revolution period as well as more modern 9/11 artifacts.

Empire State Building

This is an iconic New York City art-deco building built in the 1930s. You are also granted access to the Empire State Building Observation Deck for stellar views of the city

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

(Photo by Marley White)

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic National Monument, universally recognized as a symbol of freedom and democracy for all. Visit the Statue of Liberty along with Ellis Island, the immigration destination prior to entering America for a permanent life.

Alexander Hamilton US Custom House

The Alexander Hamilton US Custom House was built in 1907 on the same spot as the first settlement on the island of Manhattan. The building currently holds the National Museum of the American Indian. Entrance is free.

Brooklyn Bridge

(Photo by Joe Buglewicz/ NYC & Company)

Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River. Over 125 years old today, the iconic landmark continues to connect millions of travelers between the two cities. Many walk or bike the bridge when visiting New York City to take in the unique architectural design and the views over the Manhattan skyline.

Brooklyn Heights

(Photo by Harlem Spirituals)

Brooklyn Heights is the first historic district of the city. This neighborhood claims to be “America’s original suburb,” first inhabited by Native Americans then later dominated by the Dutch, for whom the sole transportation to Manhattan Island was a ferry across the River. Over the years, this neighborhood began to reflect the diversity of incoming immigrants. You will find Greek, Gothic, Victorian, Renaissance, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival in the architectural styles.

The Cloisters

This museum in Fort Tyron Park in Washington Heights takes you out of the city and into a European Medieval age, focusing on Romanesque and Gothic periods. Same-day admission to the Cloisters is included with your ticket to the Metropolitan Museum.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

This is the fourth largest Christian church in the world, most famous for the fact that it is still incomplete despite its 1892 start date.


Building 92 is a history museum in Brooklyn that highlights the history and innovations of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Originally the Marine Commandant’s residence, this building has transformed into an exhibition, employment and visitors center. You are also invited to tour the 300-acre Yard.

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library has been labeled the flagship of the New York Public Library systems as well as a prominent historic landmark in Midtown, Manhattan.  Four stories open to the public. You can find the main entrance steps on Fifth Avenue opposite East 41st Street.

Apollo Theatre

(Photo by Harlem Spirituals)

Built in Harlem in 1913, the Apollo Theater is the most famous performance venue associated with African American entertainers. This Theater has made a major contribution culturally, socially and artistically in the African American community, particularly during the Harlem Renaissance and later on with its Amateur nights. Take a Soul Food and Jazz Tour to learn more about the Apollo and the history of Harlem.

New York Transit Museum

This museum in Downtown Brooklyn offers a display of historical artifacts of the New York City Subway, bus and commuter rail systems.

Federal Hall National Memorial

Free to the public, this memorial is one of the most important in New York City. While the original Federal Hall was torn down in 1812, the current structure that served as America’s first capitol building, was the site of George Washington’s inauguration, and the place where the Bill of Rights was first presented to Congress.

Greenwood Cemetery

This cemetery, located in South Slope, Brooklyn was founded in 1838. Over 5,000 Civil War veterans are buried here. You can find a unique tour experience at the cemetery.

9/11 Memorial

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a memorial and museum commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. Located at the Westfield World Trade Center, find the impactful monuments and museum that tell the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts.


If you plan to visit New York City with museums in mind, consider purchasing a New York City Pass, allowing you to save time and money during your stay.  If you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions, and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on www.harlemspirituals.com.




A Guide of Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO & Brooklyn Heights

How To: New York City Transportation, Lodging, and Expenses

A History Of Jazz in Harlem



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *