15 Of New York City's Coolest Unexplored Places

city hall subway station

Photo: Untapped Cities

Untapped New York is a proud to be a partner of Let’s Go, with our shared vision for off-the-beaten path exploration in your own city and while travelling.

See the best “untapped” places in NYC >
To launch the collaboration, we curated a list of our top “Untapped” places from our home base in New York City.

These are all tried and true urban exploration sites that we’ve gone behind the scenes to cover on Untapped New York.

How many have you been to? What others would you add to the list?

1. The TWA Flight centre at John F. Kennedy Airport

Decommissioned in 2001 after the construction of the Jet Blue terminal, this cathedral to aviation by Eero Saarinen fills you with the pride and optimism the aviation industry had in the 1960s. Preservation efforts have saved it from the wrecking ball and there are proposals to turn the TWA Flight centre into a hotel.

2. High Line Section 3

In the concrete jungle that is New York, it's surprising to see nature in its chaotic, uncontrolled form.

The celebrated High Line still has a section yet to be converted into a park and you can sneak onto it if you know where to enter. Groundbreaking happened earlier this year on this sectio, which will become part of the Hudson Yards development, so see it soon.

3. Doyers Street Tunnel

4. City Hall Subway Station

5. Superhero Supply Store

If you're 8, 18, or 80, and and decide the next big step in your life trajectory is to become a superhero, the perfect one-stop shop for your success can be found tucked away in Park Slope.

Brooklyn's Superhero Supply company, an unassuming free-standing store that serves as the front for 826NYC, a not-for-profit writing lab for kids, is often mistaken for a hardware store, but actually houses shelves of fun things like cans of Courage, Gumption, invisibility paint, and tools to help you scale walls. An easily missed trap door leads you into the writing lab.

6. 5Pointz

7. The 'Secret Burger Joint' in the Parker Meridien Hotel

This little faux-dive has a deserved cult following. Known as Burger Joint or Secret Burger among fans, it's hidden inside the lobby of the Parker Meridien hotel, tucked behind thick floor to ceiling curtains with only a neon burger sign to denote what lies beyond.

Visually, the interior features vinyl booths, 1970s-era wood veneer paneling with sports and movie posters taped haphazardly, and no shortage of graffiti. It's as if a mid-century burger joint was preserved and the hotel was built around it, but it actually opened only in 1999. Know your order or you'll be sent to the back of the always long line.

8. Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island

Between the new FDR Four Freedoms Park and Southpoint Park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island sits the abandoned Smallpox Hospital designed by James Renwick. It's landmarked as a ruin and FDR Four Freedoms Park hopes to stabilise it for us as a welcome centre.

Once only viewable from a distance along the East River (or for the intrepid urban explorer), the new parks enable the public to get up close and personal like never before.

9. Dead Horse Bay

Just near the Rockaways sits Dead Horse Beach, which not only contains the remnants of dead horses, but also a sea of vintage garbage from over a hundred years ago. The landscape is dotted with bottles, among which you can find perfume bottles from the early 1900s, creepy toys, plenty of household nicknacks, decaying boats and even (reportedly), old hand guns.

The beach gets its name from the days it was was a horse-rendering plant, where dead horses were disposed with and you can still find horse bones in the flotsam.

10. Rikers Island

We spent six weeks inside the infamous Rikers Island prison teaching the Bill of Rights to incarcerated juveniles as part of the Rikers Island Project. Over the years, the MTA has both included and omitted Rikers Island from its maps, undecided as to how public or private the place truly is.

But the Q100 MTA bus takes you across the bridge to the entrance of the Rikers facility, for those interested in setting foot on this island.

11. Staten Island Boat Graveyard

12. The fake brownstone in Brooklyn housing an MTA transit facility

Don't be fooled by the building exterior at 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights. The middle brownstone is actually a ventilation facility for the MTA.

13. 46th Street Loew's Theatre

One of the many opulent theatres that once entertained New York's finest, the Loew's 46th Street theatre was the first atmospheric theatre in New York City.

It was designed to look like a night sky in an Italian garden. Though in a state of architectural decay, it has not (yet) been demolished and serves as storage facility for a furniture company.

14. Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn

Nestled between symbols of urban industrialisation and modern residential development, Vinegar Hill is a five-block square cobblestoned neighbourhood next to the Manhattan Bridge that seems to have been preserved in time circa the nineteenth century.

Catch a glimpse of the Commandant's House in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and grab a bite to eat at appropriately vintage Vinegar Hill House.

15. The Campbell Apartment

We checked out the Campbell Apartment as part of our recap of the top 10 hidden bars of New York City. The bar is situated in Grand Central Station, denoted by a small plaque in front of an unmarked elevator, and is a testament to the grandiosity of a different area.

The space originally served as a private salon for 1920′s financial mogul John W. Campbell and has been restored to give prominence to the intricately crafted woodwork on the ceiling, the stained glass windows, the dark wood paneled bar adjacent to the balcony and the large fireplace.

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