Visiting Old NYC: The Historical Highlights

New York is a great city, and has great food, great people – and great landmarks. The city has served as the main port of entry for millions of immigrants, who have left their cultural influences spread across the city’s landscape. While most New Yorkers, along with tourists, are told about the history of this great city through its modern icons, such as the Empire State Building or other familiar sites that are not very old but have become landmarks of New York City. Keeping that sad truth in mind, the following lines are going to be about some of the oldest places in New York City you probably don’t know about. So, here goes!

Fraunces Tavern NYC

credit: KatieThebeau


The Oldest Bar in NYC

Although New York City’s bar scene is changing dramatically, there are certain sites to behold. When it comes to bars, NYC’s name comes amongst the best bar cities in the world. So, it’s only natural for New York to have its fair share of really old bars too.

When it comes to bars, the oldest one by far is Fraunces Tavern which is located at 54 Pearl Street. If you’re looking for George Washington’s tooth, this bar cum restaurant is the place to be. Constructed way back in 1719, the bar was designed in a Georgian style, and served as a home for the Delancey family, before officially being opened as the Queen’s Head Tavern in 1762 by Samuel Fraunces. One of the highlights of this historic bar is that it was a frequent spot for the Sons of Liberty, and is also the place where Washington gave his farewell speech back in 1783.

Oldest Building in NYC

5816 Clarendon Rd. Brooklyn is the address of the oldest surviving structure in New York City. The Wyckoff House Museum is considered one of the oldest buildings in New York. During the 1600s, many Europeans looked towards New York City and dreamed of making it their new home. Back in 1652, the flatlands of Brooklyn centered on New Amersfoort, which was a famous Dutch village. And it was probably during that same year when, Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his wife Grietje moved to Brooklyn and built the one-room farmhouse, which is where they lived as a family with their eleven children.

After countless additions and renovations to the original quaint structure, the room is now a kitchen of the house museum. One reason why the site is worth the visit is because it gives you remarkable insight into the lives of the Dutch farmers of that era, and in the way they lived, on what was back then just a frontier. Today, the museum can be visited by guided tours only, which are offered by appointment.

The Oldest Pizza

Although Pizza was invented in Italy, it migrated to America to show the world that Italian expertise isn’t limited to just making fast cars and criminals. Tacconelli’s is located at 450 South Lenola Road, Maple Shade, New Jersey, just 15 minutes outside of Philly. Tacconelli’s story goes like this; in 1918, Giovanni Tacconelli moved from Italy to Philadelphia. After working as a laborer, he decided that a change in profession was in order. This is when Tacconelli decided to bake bread instead which was his profession back in Chieti, Italy. And the best and only way to bake bread was to do it in a brick oven.

The business ran well until WW II, when many members of his family were drafted on the frontline, Giovanni found himself with no choice but to leave his profession of baking bread. It was not until a few years later, in 1946, when Giovanni decided to make tomato pies instead, something that his mother taught him. What started as a family business has since then turned into an institution, and is today one of the best pizza destinations for residents of Philly and New York City, as a whole.

nyc oldest cathedral

credit: Jorge Elías


The Oldest Cathedral

In a city which is known for its churches, it’s surprising that the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine at 1047, Amsterdam Ave. is often times forgotten. The fact is that Saint John’s boasts of a long and illustrious history. Apart from being the fourth largest church in the world, it is most famous for the fact that while construction of the cathedral started back in 1892, it still lies unfinished today. This gothic church is home to some of the most exquisite works of art you will find anywhere in the city.

Ending Note

These are some of the real landmarks that have made New York City what it is today. While most of these locations have been sympathetically restored, they are open for visitation; so don’t forget to stop by and have a peek (and a taste) of the real New York City.

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