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Experiencing New York History: Events and Attractions

March 8, 2023 By CityPASS

One of the beautiful things about New York City is that there truly is something for everyone who visits. While the Big Apple is known for world-class shopping, dining, and theater, it’s also a place where you can take a deep dive into American history. As the most populated city in the U.S., NYC tells the tales of the many cultures and people who have made it home over the centuries.

History buffs will have no shortage of places and landmarks to visit to explore New York City's history and understand why it’s so important to American history as a whole.

New York's Contribution to American History and Culture

Did you know that New York City was the capital of the United States for a short time after the Revolutionary War? While it may not be the capital city anymore, it’s certainly one of the top cities for discovering American history and culture.

The history of New York is closely intertwined with the nation’s history, telling the stories of innovation, industry, and the communities of people who made this city their home. A major transportation hub in the 19th century and the welcoming port for immigrants around the world, NYC quickly became a link between the emerging U.S. and the rest of the world.

5 Historical Experiences New York Has To Offer

There are several places where New York City’s history timeline comes to life. New York City boasts an enormous range of attractions. Below are five history-rich ideas for learning more about the city and its contribution to American history.

Incredible Museums

The Big Apple has museums galore that explore different aspects of the city and where you can learn new and exciting New York history facts. For example, the American Museum of Natural History features 45 permanent exhibitions, a planetarium, and a library, all of which are spread out across 26 different buildings. Within the collections, you can explore cultures from near and far, as well as the origins of human life itself. This massive museum highlights the importance of the natural world, including biodiversity, ecosystems, and more.

Another major museum that’s a landmark in itself is the Guggenheim, an art collection that has been welcoming visitors since 1959. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect who challenged ideas and concepts in the 20th century, the museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features both special exhibits and permanent collections for visitors to explore.

Ellis and Liberty Islands

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous attractions in the world and one that Americans hold dear. No trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Liberty Island, so hop on the ferry and enjoy the sites as you cruise toward the island. Once there, you can enjoy an audio tour of the grounds that explain the history of Lady Liberty and her importance to the U.S. Once you're off the ferry you can explore the island, or visit the Statue of Liberty Museum.

Next is Ellis Island, the first stop for nearly 12 million immigrants who came to the United States between 1892 and 1954. Located in New York Harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River, many visitors opt to visit Ellis Island on the same trip as Liberty Island. Visiting the island is an especially meaningful experience for people with ancestors that passed through the island on their way to a new life. You can tour the Immigration Museum to learn what it was like for new Americans to pass through Ellis Island or browse the public records online gathered by public historians to discover more about your family’s personal history at Ellis Island.

The Empire State Building

Venturing to the top of the Empire State Building is a thrilling way to experience New York’s history and importance through an architectural lens. The Empire State Building is one of Manhattan’s most recognizable landmarks and was the world’s tallest building for more than 40 years. This was quite a feat when the building opened in 1931.

Today, there are two observation decks that you can take in the views from, one on the 86th floor and another on the 102nd. While the Empire State Building has had many uses over the years, it’s now a National Historic Landmark and an official city landmark.

The National September 11 Memorial

September 11th is a day that Americans remember vividly, whether they were in New York or not. This date will never be forgotten, and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum helps ensure that. It’s located at the World Trade Center and tells the story of that infamous day through media and artifacts. These items tell the personal stories of people whose lives were impacted and forever changed on that fall day.

The 9/11 Memorial is the space around where the twin towers stood, and the museum is located underground. Together, both sites help to honor the memory of those who lost their lives during this event that defined the U.S. and its people.

Observation Decks Around the City

Do you still have a taste for adventure after visiting the top of the Empire State Building? New York City has several other observation decks to check out that you won’t want to miss. Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is a favorite spot in the heart of Manhattan where you can see the city from above in a location where all the action is. Rockefeller Center is especially magical during the holiday season when you can look at the city’s Christmas tree or take a spin on some ice skates.

Head to the Hudson Yards neighborhood and go to Edge, the highest observation deck in the entire Western Hemisphere. With a glass floor and unique design, this deck makes you feel like you're suspended in the middle of the clouds. Afterward, have a drink at Edge’s bar for an experience you won’t soon forget.

Immerse Yourself in New York's Rich History

The best way to experience New York’s history is by purchasing CityPASS® tickets that helps you save big on the city’s top attractions. There are three different CityPASS® tickets for purchase depending on how much time you have and how many things you want to see.

Buying CityPASS® tickets can save you significantly compared to purchasing individual tickets at the attraction counter. So what are you waiting for? Let your CityPASS® tickets be your entry point to the best of New York’s history and culture!

New York City Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in New York City, we recommend finding lodging near New York City's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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