The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Mount Rushmore: you probably recognize them all. From history class to travel brochures, we see these iconic locations everywhere. But even if you’re lucky enough to have caught a glimpse of one in real life, it’s unlikely you would have been let in on the secrets concealed inside. Hiding just below the surface, there’s much more to these sites than first meets the eye. It’s time to expose the secret spaces, hidden places, and little-known quirks that lurk within some of America’s most legendary landmarks. So, next time you lay eyes on these famous spots, remember to take a second look.
1. New York public libraries’ secret apartments
Burrowed behind the bookshelves of many public libraries in the Big Apple are a series of abandoned apartments that once housed the library wardens. You see, in a time before central heating, these institutions needed around-the-clock assistance to keep the coals burning, books warming, and the decaying force of damp away.
Ghosts of the past
Today, these neglected quarters still sit out of sight behind the libraries’ walls. Peeling panels and rotting plaster that clings onto old rotary telephones paint a picture of what life was like in the apartments. And as of 2016, Atlas Obscura reported that 13 dwellings are still hidden among the shadows of the city’s libraries.
2. The Frick Collection’s buried bowling alley
Sitting in the cellar of one of NYC’s most celebrated art collections is a showpiece of the strangest kind. You see, buried floors beneath the Frick’s art-adorned walls, there is — unbeknown to most — a beautifully ornate bowling alley. Commissioned in 1914 by one of America’s most successful industrialists, Henry Clay Frick, the lavish recreation space was finally completed two years later. Just head down the stairs to the basement...
For your eyes only
Two-holed balls are spun down smooth pine alleys and retrieved using only the hand of gravity in a loop-the-loop contraption. The exquisitely decorated bowling alley was completed in 1916, but fire concerns saw it later close down. And despite being renovated 81 years later, the hall still sits largely forgotten and seductively frozen in time.