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5 Best Historical Sites In New York

New York City has a long and fascinating history. Take a walk down any city street and you can practically hear the buildings whispering their stories to you. Tales of war heroes, ghosts, hard-working businessmen and years long past are woven into the city's framework. Some of the oldest sites are open to the public for little or no charge - an opportunity for you to discover our city's past. From family homes to places of worship, architectural beauties and sprawling parks, there is a story no matter where you look in New York

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Mount Vernon Hotel Museum
(credit: Jennifer Eberhart)

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum
421 E 61st St
New York, NY 10065
(212) 838-6878

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum (MVHM) is a recreated day hotel from the 1820s. Built in 1799 and originally used as a carriage house, the building has a long and interesting history. From 1826 to 1833, it was used as a country hotel – a way for travelers to get away from the grimy city and enjoy some fresh air. Take a step back in time as you are introduced to the ladies parlors, where they would have played the pianoforte or harp, or the tavern room where men would have talked business over a pint. Various concerts and events take place throughout the year, and the garden is beautiful in any weather. Enjoy the garden on your own, free of charge, but note that tours are only available with a guide on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Merchant House
(credit: Jennifer Eberhart)

Merchant's House
29 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-1089

Walk in the footsteps of the Tredwells as you take in the only house in New York to still retain the original family's furnishings from the early 19th century. A double-parlor in the front of the house with a grand chandelier, a basement kitchen with a sink that pumps water from rain collected in an outdoor vat and master bedrooms with canopy beds are all highlights of the tour. Self-guided tours are available, or you can jump onto a guided tour whenever the museum is open.

The Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery
Webster Ave and E 233rd St
Bronx, NY 10470
(718) 920-0500

Newly instated in 2011 as a national historic landmark in New York, Woodlawn Cemetery provides a great opportunity for you to not only learn about the history of our nation, but to stretch your legs as well. The scenery alone is worth a walk or drive through the park. Stop by the graves of famous individuals like architect Alexander Archipenko, "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville, philanthropist Joseph Pulitzer or even jazz musician Duke Ellington. Wander on your own or catch a guided tour through the extensive grounds.

More: 5 Historic Facts You Didn't Know About NYC

Central Synagogue
(credit: Jennifer Eberhart)

Central Synagogue
652 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 838-5122

A gem of a building that struggles not to be dwarfed by the rising skyscrapers in the vicinity, Central Synagogue is the oldest Jewish synagogue in New York. The building is truly breathtaking, both inside and out. Having suffered from a devastating fire in 1998, the synagogue was restored in 2001. Built in the style of the Spanish Moors, the synagogue features a central stained-glass rose window that faces the avenue, interior stencil work in 69 colors, two sentinel towers with gilded-onion domes and two grand, linked organs. The synagogue still operates as a regular site for religious devotions, but tours are offered for visitors to enjoy it as well.

Trinity Church

Trinity Church
74 Trinity Place
New York, NY 10006
(212) 602-0800

Another spot of both historical and religious significance is the Trinity Church, which overlooks Wall Street. The church has a long history, dating back to 1696 when the land was granted for a worship space. The first church service was held two years later. During the Revolutionary War, the church sided with the British, but the building was destroyed by fire during the war. A second church was built in 1790 but collapsed less than fifty years later. The current church building was erected in 1846 and has since provided public-service programs for the hungry, teens, seniors, young children, mental patients and many more of the needy throughout the city and the world.

More: Best Historic Landmarks In NYC

Jennifer Eberhart is currently an art history/museum studies graduate student at The City College in New York. She is an avid art enthusiast, and visits as many museums and galleries as she can in her free time. Her work can be found at


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