New York is full of gorgeous, and sometimes secret, Instagram-worthy spots. I’ve picked out the 15 prettiest and most photogenic places to visit in town.
Planning a trip to New York soon? Great news, I have some sights to delight your eyes. All of them are special, pretty and even romantic. If you love architecture, you’ll likely love all of these too.
With much pleasure I start the research of my upcoming New York Architectour Guide, which is scheduled to be published by January 2021. If you have any personal favourites in the city – rich in history, cultural relevance and beauty – please let me know in the comments below. I am in search of New York’s wonderful places.
For more traveling inspiration, follow along on Instagram
@ Bob Cuk
1. Flatiron Building
Not many people know that the original building concept of a flatiron was created by by Bradford Gilbert, a Chicago school contemporary of Daniel Burnham, the designer of the New York building. Daniel Burnham stole – I mean reused – the concept for this beautiful building completed in 1902 and it became so iconic that everyone forgot about Gilbert’s structure. You can visit the original Flatiron in Atlanta.
Location: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010
This delightful neighbourhood was once known as Gairville but nowadays everybody knows it by an acronym: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO). Its cobblestone streets and converted Brooklyn warehouse buildings are the backdrop for independent boutiques, high-end restaurants and trendy cafes. The most iconic view? The Brooklyn Bridge one.
Location: 80 Pearl St #58, Brooklyn, NY 11201
3. Albertine Bookshop
The building that houses the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, at 972 Fifth Avenue, has been owned by the French government since 1952. It was designed in the high Italian Renaissance style by Stanford White and it ranks as one of the architect’s most impressive late projects. Sadly, he did not see it to completion: as he was overseeing the mansion’s final stages, he was murdered one sweltering summer night in 1906, in the rooftop garden of the second Madison Square Garden (White’s most famous building), by the mad husband of the model and actress Evelyn Nesbit. This only French bookshop is a delightful corner of New York.
Location: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY 10075
4. The Oculus
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, or ‘World Trade Center’ originally opened in 1909. Since then a lot has happened: bankruptcy, increase in traffic and unfortunately the 2001 terrorist attacks. A new redesign of the area was carried out after that and the Oculus station house, designed by Santiago Calatrava, now occupies the main site. Which do you find prettier, the exterior white ribs or the space created underneath?
Location: Church St, New York, NY 10006
5. Bethesda Terrace
Central Park is one of the most romantic places in New York and Bethesda Terrace and Fountain my personal favourite corner of it. It was built during the American Civil War in 1864. This structure is the physical reminder of persistence during turbulent times, an inspiring place. The base of the fountain was designed by the architect of all the original built features of Central Park, Calvert Vaux, with sculptural details by Jacob Wrey Mould.
Location: 72 Terrace Dr, New York, NY 10021
6. Brooklyn Bridge
I am a big fan of bridges, for what they represent: a connection between two points in space. Brooklyn Bridge is a classic, and a place I always visit when in New York. It was completed in 1883 – one of the oldest roadway bridges in the US still in use – and it was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge, as well as the first fixed crossing across the East River. Over the years, the Brooklyn Bridge has undergone several reconfigurations; it formerly carried horse-drawn vehicles and elevated railway lines, but now carries vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.
Location: Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038
7. New York Public Library
At the time of its completion in 1911, New York Public Library was the largest marble structure in the United States. The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by Carrère and Hastings, an architectural partnership between John Merven Carrère, a Brazilian architect and Thomas S. Hastings, a native from New York. This building is so relevant because it was the tipping point of their career, and one of the prettiest places in New York.
Location: 476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018
8. Guggenheim Museum
New York’s museum scene is pretty exciting. Yet, the (still) most innovative space of all is this 1959 gallery created by starchitect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City occupied Wright for 16 years (1943–1959 and is probably his most recognised masterpiece. Its unique central geometry, resembling that of a seashell’s interior, allows visitors to experience the collection by walking down the slowly descending, central spiral ramp.
Location: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128
9. Grand Central Station
New York City’s magnificent Grand Central Terminal is more than a hundred years old and is perhaps one of the buildings in the city that has aged most gracefully. It was designed by Warren and Wetmore and completed in 1913. Remarkably, it doesn’t have any stairs – only ramps and lifts – necessary for train passengers with large trunks and train cases. One of the prettiest parts is the celestial mural, conceived in 1912 by architect Warren and painter Paul César Helleu, and executed by Brooklyn’s Hewlett-Basing Studio.
Location: E 41st St, New York, NY 10168
10. The High Line
One of New York‘s most loved areas is The High Line. It is a 1-mile linear public park created in 2009 and built on a 1.45-mile section of the former elevated NY Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. It has been redesigned and is now seen as an aerial greenway. The team of architects who made this a unique urban intervention were James Corner Field Operations, DillerScofidio + Renfro and garden designer Piet Oudolf. It has become not only a green point of the city in which people relax or interact but also a path to commute faster, since it is pedestrian only.
Location: 500 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011
11. Stuyvesant Street
This Instagram hot spot is one of the oldest streets in the New York City borough of Manhattan. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, Stuyvesant Street remained an important thoroughfare and market street, but today it is a quaint street with single family homes and apartment buildings, and is often used for movie shoots of ‘Old New York’.
12. Park Slope Historic District Houses
Park Slope Historic District, a national historic district in Brooklyn, consists of 1,802 contributing buildings built between 1862 and about 1920. The 40-block district is almost exclusively residential and located adjacent to Prospect Park. It includes a variety of two and three story townhouses built in a variety of popular architectural styles of the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Every street is beautiful.
Location: 356 6th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
13. Pietro Nolita
There isn’t anywhere else in New York as pink as this restaurant. Everything – even the loos – are pink. Tucked away on a quiet New York City street lined with century-old redbrick buildings lies Pietro Nolita, a new Italian eatery that stands out for its contemporary decor, all in an eye-catching shade of pink. The Swedish interior designer, Jeanette Dalrot, maximised a very limited space which ended up entirely decked out in pink, from top to bottom.
Location: 174 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
A monochromatic palette establishes an oasis of tranquility at the glamorous Barneys New York flagship, which opened in the store’s original 1923 location, on 7th Avenue in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood. The mastermind behind the space is architect Steven Harris, whose eponymous firm is known primarily for its minimalist residential projects. The best part of the store? Its pristine white monumental staircase 😍
Location: 101 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011
15. Hudson Yards
The newest architectural addition and centrepiece of Hudson Yards is its spiral staircase, a soaring new landmark meant to be climbed. This interactive artwork was imagined by Thomas Heatherwick – who recently completed Coal Drops Yard in London – as a focal point where people can enjoy new perspectives of the city and one another from different heights, angles and vantage points. Comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs (almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings) the vertical climb offers remarkable views of the city, the river and beyond.
Location: 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001