New York City is Atlas Obscura’s most popular destination of 2018

New York City is Atlas Obscura’s most popular destination of 2018
New York ranks ahead of cities like Berlin, London, L.A. and San Francisco.

New York ranks ahead of cities like Berlin, London, L.A. and San Francisco.

New York City is an explorer’s paradise, according to Atlas Obscura — a guidebook to the world’s most unusual places.

Of the 15,268 places on Atlas Obscura’s map of “wondrous” sites in the world, our city is No. 1 when it comes to having the most intriguing locales, followed by Berlin, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Lesser known but beloved pieces of history and amusement have made the site’s list of local places, including Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel, Track 61 beneath the Waldorf-Astoria and Roosevelt Island’s smallpox hospital.

The guidebook put together a listing of the 100 top places readers want to visit based on their expressed interest — New York City appeared 18 times on the list, which considers the entire globe. 

Atlas Obscura drilled down further and created an interactive map, where users can discover each place by clicking on a pin.

For example, there are remnants of 17th century New York City on Pearl Street that are preserved under glass. Believed to be some of the oldest buildings in the city, they include part of the Dutch colonial City Hall, which dates from 1642. Clicking through the map shows what it looks like, a summary of its history and important facts to know before you go. 

Before Roosevelt Island was named after FDR, it was called Welfare Island and primarily used for holding sick patients at various hospitals, including the Smallpox Hospital located in the southernmost part of Roosevelt Island. It operated between 1856 and the 1950s, closing when a vaccine was developed. The hospital has remained abandoned ever since.
Before Roosevelt Island was named after FDR, it was called Welfare Island and primarily used for holding sick patients at various hospitals, including the Smallpox Hospital located in the southernmost part of Roosevelt Island. It operated between 1856 and the 1950s, closing when a vaccine was developed. The hospital has remained abandoned ever since. Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

Another point of interest is the secluded garden in FiDi, “The Elevated Acre.” Much like most of Atlas Obscura’s featured places, not many people know about this “urban oasis,” which has a lawn, an amphitheater, a beer garden in the summer and amazing views of the city.

International readers are intrigued by the smallpox hospital ruins on Roosevelt Island, the abandoned City Hall subway station and the illusive Explorer’s Club Headquarters on the Upper East Side, among other locales that many New Yorkers may not have even visited. 

An ornate subway station built in 1904 stopped being used in 1945 when platforms were getting longer to accommodate more passengers. Once in awhile, passengers can catch a glimpse of it as their cars pass through to loop back north.
An ornate subway station built in 1904 stopped being used in 1945 when platforms were getting longer to accommodate more passengers. Once in awhile, passengers can catch a glimpse of it as their cars pass through to loop back north. Photo Credit: iStock

“New York City is clearly one of the world’s top travel destinations,” said Alexa Harrison, the company’s public relations manager. “But Atlas Obscura believes there are still hidden wonders to uncover—even in neighborhoods and areas that we swear we know very well.”

Shaye Weaver