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Nagel Apr 3rd, 2007 08:20 AM

NYC for a history geek
I am traveling to NYC for a conference that begins Monday, May 7 and ends the next day.

My flight arrives in NYC on Saturday, May 5 around 10:45am at LGA. I basically have the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday (I have only been to NYC once before and saw little while there). My wife will be traveling with me so she will get an extra couple days while I am at the conference on Monday and Tuesday.

I enjoy history and plan on going to Federal Hall, Cooper Union (Lincoln's speech) and the Statue of Liberty. We will be staying at the Park Central New York Hotel at 870 7th Ave.

I really want to see the Statue, but many think it is not worth the time. Thoughts? What is the best way of going about making it worthwhile?

Anything about Federall Hall or Cooper Union I should know?

What other great historical sites, etc. would be worth a look.

My wife wants to see a show. Is there any way to get less expensive tickets for her to a show. Any must-see shows?

What restuarants are good to try when near our hotel or near historic sites. We would like inexpensive (less than $20-25 for an entree), small and ones that locals patronize.

Any general must-sees?

Thank you.


xrae Apr 3rd, 2007 08:24 AM

Grant's tomb?

NewbE Apr 3rd, 2007 08:32 AM

I was going to suggest Grant's Tomb, as well. It's a bit of a haul from Midtown, but the Cloisters is nearby, so you could do both while you're there.

doug_stallings Apr 3rd, 2007 08:59 AM

Frankly, I can't think of anything that makes going into the Statue of Libery worthwhile anymore. It's just too much hassle, and you can see it as the ferry passes by. What is very much worthwhile and so often neglected is the Ellis Island museum, which is a treasure trove of immigration history. Just stay on the ferry, check out the view of the statue, and spend several hours at the museum. If you can get one of the new tours of the old ferry building that were just announced, that would be great too.

There are also interesting walking tours of Governor's Island, but I think they are offered only on weekdays.

You can get half-price tickets at the TKTS booth if you don't want to buy tickets in advance; if you want to know what you're seeing, register at and buy discount tickets. Drowsy Chaperone is good.

For a very different dinner, check out the Bar Room at The Modern in MOMA (make reservations now if you want to do that) or try the cafe at Aquavit, an excellent Swedish restaurant in Midtown (again, reserve). The prix-fixe at the cafe is an excellent value at $35 for 3 courses, or they have even cheaper Swedish "home cooking" entrees during the week. Both of these restaurants are within walking distance of your hotel.

Gekko Apr 3rd, 2007 09:04 AM

If you have time before May 7, be sure to watch Ric Burns' documentary on New York. I believe it's now in 8 parts, chronological, so you might want to watch just the 1st few for the early history.

Netflix has it.

GoTravel Apr 3rd, 2007 09:04 AM

I think the most historical part is downtown.

Visit the Federal Building where George Washington was sworn in as the very first President of the United States and then walked up the street to pray at Trinity Church.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge built in 1883.

Visit Fraunces Tavern and the Maritime Musuem.

I think the best architecture is downtown.

Gekko Apr 3rd, 2007 09:05 AM

Call ahead to Cooper Union and ask to see the Great Hall where Abraham Lincoln spoke in 1860. The podium used by Lincoln is still right there, and you can stand behind it as Lincoln did. Pretty cool.

Outside the Great Hall is a small exhibit about the time & Abe's visit.


nytraveler Apr 3rd, 2007 09:21 AM

Definitely check out

The New York Historical Society - always has interesting exhbiits

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum - a brilliant exhbiit of all the various people who entered the US through Ellis Island and how they afected the growth and development o f both NYC and the coountry

Tenement Museusm

Museum of the City of New York

Fraunce's Tavern - where Washington bade farewell to his roups at the end of the Revolutionary War (food is just OK)

And - if you have any time outside of the city take a day trip up the Hudson to see some of the houses of the Dutch padroons near Tarrytown

I would not spend the time necesary to see the inside of the statue - since it takes so long - and there's so much more valuable/interesting you can do with the time

usroadman Apr 3rd, 2007 09:23 AM

Since you can't actual go into the statue anymore (just the base), I probably wouldn't bother with the statue. Either view it from the ferry to Ellis Island (if you do that), or take a (free) ride on the Staten Island ferry and see it from there.

Not sure if you'd consider them historic, but I've always thought Grand Central Terminal was amazing, and the Library is pretty cool. You can also check out the Brooklyn Bridge, and from the outside, City Hall and at least 2 buildings on City Hall Park that were once the world's tallest (the Woolworth & some little building on Park Row). Speaking of biggest, if you take the ferry ride, you can also see the Bayonne Bridge, which for decades was the longest arch span in the world, a few feet longer than the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

If you take the subway between City Hall and Grand Central, you'll be riding on the original section of the subway, and can see the remnants of some of the original stations from 1907.

Nagel Apr 3rd, 2007 05:05 PM

Thank you everyone for your input.
How do I go about setting up a trip to Ellis Island?
Does anyone know dinner spots in the area where we are staying (Park Central New York Hotel at 870 7th Ave)--$25 and under for an entree?
Is the Met The museum to see?
What neighborhoods have the most history? Is downtown the best place to go for this?
How about must see areas of town? Is, for example, Greenwich Village, TriBeca, Little Italy , etc. must go places?



Jeffrey Apr 3rd, 2007 07:52 PM

Park Slope Historic District. One of the best preserved architecture sites from the late 1800's.

missypie Apr 4th, 2007 06:23 AM


Carpetbagger Apr 4th, 2007 07:51 AM

Today's Manhattan User's Guide has an article on Stuyvesant Street you would find interesting.

They mention McSorley's Ale House in the article which I would highly recommend to a history buff (and a short walk from Cooper Union - legend has it that Lincoln stopped in for a post-speech beer). Go during the day, the frat boys overrun the place at night.

mclaurie Apr 4th, 2007 08:24 AM

There is a former park ranger, Tom Bernardin, who does tours of Ellis Island. He has a 3 hr. tour that also includes a few stops in lower Manhattan. Info at

You can also just go on your own. Entrance to the museum is free. You pay for the ferry ride from downtown Manhattan. You can pre purchase your ferry ticket online or just show up and buy one. is a great resource for restaurants in Manhattan. You can do some researching on your own by looking in the west 50's. Some places I like nearish your hotel include Trattoria Dell 'Arte (Italian), Redeye Grill (seafood), Whym (American/Asian), Kennedy's (Irish pub/rest.), Angelo's (pizza), ViceVersa and Maria Pia both have good prix fixe dinners (Italian).

The Met is world class and is huge. Good history on the building too. Go to history here

The downtown financial/govt. building area is the oldest area of the city where development started. North of that, I'd say Greenwich Village has the most interesting history, but the lower east side was where many immigrants originally settled and is in the midst of gentrification. The Tenement Museum (requires a reservation) on the lower east side is a popular place to visit and augment the Ellis Island trip. There are some free walking tours that might interest you. is a co. that does some good historical walking tours that might interest you or at least give you some ideas. The Municipal Arts Society the same

PalmPilot Apr 4th, 2007 09:49 AM

For restaurants, try the Brooklyn Diner, which is not really a diner at all on 57th between Broadway and 7th I think. There's also Molyvos if you like greek, which is on 7th btwn 55th/56th, Matt's grill on 8th between 55th/56th is also in your range.

For the most history, visit Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. They offer a plethora of walking tours. Click to see a tour schedule.

lisettemac Apr 4th, 2007 10:15 AM

Big Onion walking tours are well done and are often conducted by a grad student in history or architecture. You might check out what offerings they have.

escargot Apr 4th, 2007 07:19 PM

The Tenement Museum, and my favorite one hour tour is the Confino Living History Tour

there is a short film about history of immigration (in the building where you buy your tickets) as well as bookstore, film is about 20 minutes - good info on the route from Ellis Island to the LES/ Tenement life and then the one hour tour/ - fabulous tour guide who stays in character - amazing information -

and since you are in the Lower East Side / Delancey St ( see movie: Crossing Delancey)
you could do a walk around Orchard St, etc - we have walked to McSorleys from here, or you can walk towards Soho if you'd like to see some stores/have a bite - many restaurants to choose from in Soho

travelbuff Apr 4th, 2007 08:26 PM

There are also 2 historic homes in upper Manhattan one called the Jenrette HOuse, ( I think, on 160th and Edgecome) and one further up on Broadway and 180th. You might want to see both if you are coming up to the Cloisters. Both homes date back to the 1700's.

I also agree that Fraunces Tavern is a must see. I think it is the oldest restaurant in the US.

There's also Teddy Roosevelt's home/birthplace in the 20's on the east side and of course a walk around Gramercy Park is close by as well as several historic buildings around the park and down Irving Place.

Have a great time while you are here.

TarheelsInNj Apr 5th, 2007 07:09 AM

Brooklyn Heights would be a nice stop if you have time. It's a beautiful residential neighborhood that was actually designated as NYC's first historic district.

The views from the Promenade are gorgeous, and May would be perfect for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Nagel Apr 7th, 2007 12:40 PM

Thank you all for your help.

How long will an Ellis Island trip?

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