New York City is the place where a million stories have happened—many of which ended up in history books around the world. No matter where you go, it’s safe to say that at least one famous figure probably walked in your footsteps. At times, it’s only natural to wonder what some of those buildings have seen.
Every famous iconic building in NYC has a story, right? Did you ever wonder what the oldest buildings in New York City are? We did, so we decided to find out for you.
Believe it or not, the oldest house in New York City isn’t in Manhattan. Rather, it’s in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Wyckoff House was erected in 1652—a full 120-plus years before the American Revolution took place.
Though the house has seen its additions through the years, the original structure still remains after all these years. If that isn’t NYC staying power, we don’t know what is. The house doesn’t actually act as a home anymore, but rather, a museum to show the humble roots Brooklyn once came from.
Would New York City really be the same without all the apartment buildings? Probably not, and the Stuyvesant Apartments are the ones that kicked off that reputation. They were the first apartment buildings geared towards the middle class, rather than lowly tenement houses.
Unfortunately, they were demolished, but the neighboring building wasn’t. 129 E 17th Street in Manhattan was erected in 1879, just as the Gilded Age came to a close. They’ve been in use ever since.
Skyscrapers are what define the New York City skyline, but they’re a surprisingly new addition to the cityscape. (Well, relatively speaking!) The first skyscraper erected in New York was the Tower Building in 1889, but that one didn’t survive. The second skyscraper, though, did.
The Flatiron Building, now known for its iconic architecture, was built in 1901 and is widely considered to be the oldest skyscraper in New York City. Surprisingly, the Flatiron Building wasn’t a hit when it first was erected. People even petitioned to get rid of it!
Manhattan’s City Hall is huge and is famous for its Governor’s Room, where many of the greatest minds who ever lived enjoyed the honor of being guests. Though most of us recognize it for the subway stop, the fact is that there’s another significant factoid people tend to overlook: it’s the oldest government building in the city.
Even though it was constructed in 1812, City Hall still remains open and active as a part of New York’s government. It’s living, breathing history!
Admittedly, this is a debatable subject. Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern was initially erected in 1719, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. However, the tavern burned down in the earlier part of the last century and had to be rebuilt. So, it’s not the original structure.
Despite it not being the original, city officials agreed to make it as close to an exact replica as they possibly could. So, if you go there today, it’ll still look like it belongs to the Revolutionary War period. If you’re a real history fan, you might also want to stop by and enjoy their in-house museum.
Known as “the Little Red Schoolhouse” among locals, Brooklyn’s PS 34 remains the oldest functioning school in New York City. This petite schoolhouse has been in action since 1867, shortly after the American Civil War.
This petite school remains a highly acclaimed educational institution and is famed for its small class sizes. If you decide to move to Greenpoint, there’s a good chance that your kids might attend this petite school.
We can’t have an article about New York City without mentioning its most famous food, pizza. Most people don’t realize this, but pizzerias weren’t always found on every street corner in the Big Apple. In fact, the oldest pizzeria in the city is only slightly over 115 years old.
Of course, you have to leave it to New York City to kickstart a trend that would remain with America for centuries. Lombardi’s, located in Little Italy, was the first pizzeria in America, not to mention the first in the Big Apple.
Before opening its pizza services in 1905, it was a grocery store dating back to 1897. The pizzeria is still open today and regularly gets rave reviews. What’s impressive about this, you ask? Most of the people who eat there have no idea they’re tasting history!
Though New York City has five boroughs, most people who are history buffs tend to flock to Manhattan for their taste of old New York City. It’s understandable. To help history fans enjoy the city’s lore and legends, we added two bonus Manhattan locations.
Manhattan is where most of the city’s action lies, and it’s also considered to be the most historic. Unsurprisingly, there are some really old buildings in this area. So far, the oldest building to still stand in the city is St. Paul’s Chapel.
Erected in 1764, this chapel predates the United States of America by over ten years. This historic church is a major tourist attraction thanks to George Washington’s pew, where he sat and prayed the day of his inauguration.
At first glance, the Morris-Jumel Mansion looks like it’d be more at home in the Deep South. But, it’s actually a major part of New York City’s history. This mansion belonged to a Washington Heights farming family back in the 1760s.
The home was erected in 1765 and acted as one of the main parts of Manhattan’s culture during its heyday. Nowadays, it’s been converted to a museum and tourist attraction.