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Six Lesser Known New York Landmarks You Should See

There are so many things to do in New York City that, even if you stayed a month, you would not see everything. Everyone visits the traditional landmarks, but one can only tour the same places so often. Be different. Use these suggestions to get your mind going, and prepare to discover something unusual on your next trip.

The Explorer's Club

Indiana Jones would have loved this place. Imagine that you are sitting in Allan Quatermain's library, looking at all the fascinating objects that he welcomed back from his global adventures. Walk through the Explorer's Club and see them in person. The tour reveals elephant tusks, leopard skins, taxidermy mounts of wild animals, remnants of exploration vessels, and the oversized globe used by Thor Heyerdahl to plan the Kon-Tiki expedition. Your favorite 20th century explorer was probably a member, too.

Central Park

Many outsiders are surprised to learn that there is more to Central Park than grass and trees. It turns out that Central Park is really a theme park of itself, with its own castle and zoo and carriage rides. Its restaurant, Tavern on the Green, is a park within a park, with its topiaries and outdoor seating. Strawberry Fields, another landscaped oasis, is also a tribute to John Lennon. You will instantly recognize the promenade mall from any one of several movies. One caveat: try to experience Central Park only in daylight.

Ellis Island

A typical New York visit often includes a trip to the Statue of Liberty, but Ellis Island is where all the action was. Forty percent of Americans can trace their ancestor to someone that entered America through Ellis Island. The National Park Service offers a presentation that allows you to help decide the fate of fictional immigrants, illustrating the importance of immigration policy. You can also research your own ancestors' immigration records, as long as they had arrived between 1892 and 1924.

Rockefeller Center

Variety is the theme in this dense complex of buildings, and although your trip probably already included a walk through its arcade to see the statues and the flags, you should also experience the rest of it. Spend the morning with the Today Show, tour Radio City Music Hall, watch the sunset from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and travel down five floors for dinner and dancing in the Rainbow Room. Then you can walk around and look at the statues and the flags.

United Nations Building

We have a global "town hall", and it is right on the shores of the East River. The United Nations building is arguably one of the most underrated tributes to world peace. Contributions from all over the world decorate the Public Lobby and the grounds. For instance, you'll see the Norman Rockwell painting, "Do Unto Others," which was turned into a beautiful mosaic by Venetian artists. If you're lucky, you'll even be able to listen to a meeting of the General Assembly – in any language you choose.

The Morgan Library & Museum

Located at 225 Madison Avenue, this building houses J. Pierpont Morgan's intensive stash of original handwritten or printed works. In his lifetime, he was able to use his wealth to acquire first editions and rare books (including three Gutenberg Bibles), handwritten letters and manuscripts, original sketches by the master painters, original music scores by the great composers, and Ancient Near Eastern engraved seals and cuneiform tablets. Every artifact makes those boring history lessons seem more human.

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