New York is an open-air museum that hides many secrets! Have you figured them out yet?

The capital of the world, New York dazzles with its energy, pop culture, electrifying museums, 21st-century meltings pots and trendy hubs, as well as its endless avenues and skyscrapers, street food and yellow cabs, Broadway and Greenwich Village.

But that's not all there is to New York! The city is so rich that you may have missed some of its (surprising) features on a previous trip. It's a vast open-air museum, and here we share some of its secrets with you, even though they've been well-guarded until now!

© Rabbit75123 / 123RF

The Speakeasies

The hushed ambience of the speakeasy.

- © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

New York's Speakeasies have a long history! These clandestine bars were designed during Prohibition, roughly between the two world wars, to be hidden from the authorities, and date back over a century. At that time, alcohol was banned in the United States and a kind of resistance was quickly organised, particularly under the control of the underworld. People drank alcohol, smoked, had fun and women mingled with men (which was prohibited in public drinking establishments at the time).

Even today, these bars are still very popular with tourists (there are about fifty left out of the thousands that existed at the time; they're all in Manhattan), and the average tourist will have a hard time finding them without a little help from us. Because, of course, their entrances are hidden!

Unfortunately, the Cotton Club immortalised in Francis F. Coppola's film no longer exists, but you can spend an evening at Beauty & Essex, The Back Room or Attaboy.

Practical information

📍 Beauty & EssexIn the Lower East Side, this establishment is trendy and very popular. You don't just drink here, as its table is one of the most sought-after in NY. Cosy atmosphere, subdued lighting and lots of good humour. It's huge and it's a blast!

Location: 146 Essex St, NY. Hours: 5pm to 10pm on Mondays, 5pm to 11pm on Tuesdays, 5pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, 11.30am to 4pm, then 5pm to 10pm on Sundays.

📍 The Back RoomAuthentic speakeasy in operation since 1920 under the name The Back of Ratner's. Rather well hidden, equipped with a dance floor and welcoming musicians. Please note: real fur is prohibited!

Location: 102 Norfolk Street, NY.

Opening hours: opens every day at 6pm.

📍 Please Don't TellAs popular as the Attaboy, but with only 20 seats, this speakeasy in the East Village is not easy to get to.

Location: 113 St. Marks Place, NY. Access is via a small hot dog restaurant called Crif Dogs, via a phone box at the back.

Opening times: open every day from 5pm until 2am****(3am on Friday and Saturday nights).

Alice in Wonderland in Central Park

You've heard of Puss in Boots walking proudly and decisively at the foot of Perrault's statue in the Tuileries Gardens, but have you also heard of this statue of Alice in Wonderland in Central Park?

Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter in Central Park

- © Vitali MIRKO / Viewapart / 123RF

It's not easy to find, and since you're now interested in discovering it, you'll have to go to the east of the park, just opposite the tip of the small Conservatory Water lake. Take your children with you, as they will be allowed to climb the statue and sit next to Alice. You should also know that this monumental bronze by sculptor José de Creeft depicts a giant Alice in the company of her friends, who look like grown-up humans. It's a far cry from the miniature world of the novel. And it's not every day you get to sit on a mushroom!

Practical information

📍 Location: Central Park, access opposite E 76th Street.

🚌 Getting there: by bus, stop 5 Av/E 75 St.

🚇 : underground station E 77th St, New York.

👛 Price: it's free! And free access.

The Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery and its sound-carrying vaults

- © Erika Cross / Shutterstock

Everyone knows the principle of the echo, but few of us have actually experienced it. So let's go to Grand Central Station, in the heart of Manhattan. It's not just the biggest station in the United States - it's the biggest in the world! Numerous galleries provide transfers for travellers, but you come to the Whispering Gallery to... whisper. It's well worth the effort if two of you share the experience. The curve of this gallery's vault is such that it carries the voice of anyone speaking in a low voice in one of its corners to the opposite corner, even if you are whispering. A unique sound teleportation experience!

Your bench in Central Park

Central Park's countless painted wooden benches

- © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

You'd like to buy yourself a piece of New York, but like us, you can't afford a flat overlooking Central Park. No problem, you can become the owner of a bench in this legendary park thanks to the"Adopt a Bench" programme, which aims to fund the preservation of the park's flora and fauna. For the modest sum of $10,000, you can own a wooden bench in the middle of Central Park, with the right to have a plaque engraved with whatever you wish. 41 million dollars have already been raised!

Ghost metro stations

City Hall ghost station

- © Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

If you're a film buff, you'll no doubt have realised that Manhattan has a vast underground network, particularly that of the Underground. Much of it is unknown to the general public and of little interest. But there are some disused stations that nobody knows about, "ghost" stations that are worth a look, particularly for their art deco architecture and decor. The most remarkable of these is City Hall Station. It is particularly noteworthy for its "Catalan" vaults covered in ceramic(Guastavino tile arch system) and for its skylights that let in natural light.

This station is only visited on rare occasions. But if you take line 6 towards Wall Street, you can see it at Brooklyn Bridge station. However, the train does not stop there.

Where to sleep in New York?

3 West Club 3* New York

3 West Club 3*

Right in the heart of Midtown, this 3-star hotel-restaurant is the perfect base for visiting New York.
8.5 Very good
£247 / night
by Jude JONES
Need a hand? take a look at our guide
New York
New York
Latest news
In the shadow of mythology: 13 place you can't miss while in Greece
6 exciting places to visit in Laos
The Pavillon de Vendôme museum, a private mansion dedicated to art
New York
48 hours in Rochester, NY
Read more articles
Best cities