Take in New York’s memorable vistas, scintillating history, and architectural wonder on this tour of the city and its nearby celebrated structures.
A few blocks from Rockefeller Center, Manhattan’s most celebrated buildings guard intriguing secrets. Beloved of locals and visitors alike, these seven iconic locations have earned their place in the history books.
1. Rainbow Room
On the 65th floor of the storied Rockefeller Center, the Rainbow Room has unbeatable views of the Manhattan skyline from its floor-to-ceiling rectangular windows, and has hosted many a starry soirée since it first opened its doors in 1934.
Major renovations were undertaken from 2009-2014 to preserve the ceiling dome, revolving dance floor, and dramatic staircase, which are all now protected under the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The room owes its unusual name to an organ installed when it first opened, which reflected light around the room in a kaleidoscope of colors. Today the effect is re-created with the use of custom-made crystal curtains.
2. The Met Cloisters
Located in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park—which served as a battleground in the Revolutionary War—The Met Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, might be one of the most historically intriguing and also palliative places in the whole of Manhattan.
Dedicated to Medieval and Gothic art, the five cloisters were imported from France and reconstructed here between 1935 and 1938. The site’s beautiful courtyard gardens alone are worth the 45-minute drive from Midtown, but to gaze upon the collection of beguiling wool and silk tapestries, which depict a hunt for the mythical unicorn, is one of the finer ways to spend an afternoon in the city.
3. The Beekman
One of the first skyscrapers to be constructed on Manhattan Island, 5 Beekman Street, or Temple Court as it was previously known, was originally home to Temple Theatre, which premiered Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the United States in 1881. It was later used as offices until a fire ripped through the building, and today its 19th-century sandstone façade belies a stunning interior: a nine-story atrium has been restored to its former glory, complete with wrought-iron dragon motifs, original tiles, and intricately decorated balustrades. Two restaurants and a basement speakeasy bar have turned it into a place to see and be seen.
4. Grand Central Terminal
Built over a period of 10 years, from 1903-1913, Grand Central Terminal is certainly one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The largest construction in New York City at the time, the train station covers 48 acres (19.4 ha) and, when first built, featured 4,000 exposed lightbulbs—a demonstration of a feat of electrical engineering and the status of the building’s original owners, the Vanderbilt family.
The building and its decorative elements have been restored several times over the years, the celestial ceiling mural and famed Oyster Bar still holding court more than 100 years after they were installed.
5. Katz’s Delicatessen
Serving up salt beef sandwiches and pickles since 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen is as at home on this Manhattan icons list as it is in the hearts of New Yorkers, who flock here in their hundreds daily. Located on East Houston Street, the deli has had many owners, but its signage and decor have remained the same since the beginning.
Inside, the faces of famous customers line the walls, from the time of the Lower East Side’s Yiddish theatre boom to today, and a collection of neon signs and wartime slogans—”Senda salami to your boy in the army”—hang from the ceiling.
6. The High Line
Built on a disused freight line by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line is part public park, part art walk, and part culinary destination, spanning 1.45 miles (2.33km) from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. As well as the elevated walkway flanked on either side by Piet Oudolf’s stunning wild gardens, there are intermittent viewing platforms and spaces that showcase performances and art installations.
The route snakes through a section of Chelsea Market that once housed the National Biscuit Company—now home to the High Line’s food hall—along bridges and spurs and even through a small forest in the Meatpacking District. It’s one of the city’s modern marvels, offering a beautiful break in the frenetic cityscape.
7. Darlington, New York Metro Mansion
Just 40 minutes from Manhattan, Darlington Mansion offers a rare opportunity to own one of New York’s most iconic buildings, often referred to by architectural enthusiasts as the American Versailles.
This 58-room, three-story mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey is listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, and is the location of the welcome reception for affiliates visiting New York for the Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Specialist Conference 2018.
Modeled on an English castle, the estate sits within 12 acres (4.85 ha) of grounds. Notable highlights include a library with a 15-foot (4.6-m) ceiling mural by James Wall Finn, a wine cellar, luxury spa, and an elegant formal dining space among its many remarkable attributes.
Content provided by Christie’s Luxury Defined, September 17, 2018