Looking for the most famous buildings in New York City? This helpful guide covers the top ten most iconic buildings in the Big Apple, perfect for a first time visit.Less
The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in New York City and the 6th tallest in the world. The unusual shape and full-glass facade (it seems to disappear into the sky) makes it quite unique as well. The building caps out at 1,776 feet and the towering height is no coincidence - 1776 is the year America declared independence. Today, the One World Trade Center stands as a symbol for American resilience and pays tribute to the lives lost on 9/11.
At the time of construction (in the mid 1900s) everyone was vying for the honor of building the tallest building in the world, the architects behind the Chrysler Building were no exception. Impressively, the goal was achieved and the Chrysler Building officially became the tallest building in the world -- at 1,046 feet -- when construction completed in 1929. But the honor didn't last long, within a mere 2 years the Empire State Building surpassed the height by 204 feet.
They don't call New York City the Empire State for nothing. Soaring to dizzying heights of 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for 40 years (from 1931–1971). More impressively, the construction of this iconic New York City building took only 20 months from start to finish. More than 3,400 men worked on the building daily. They were able to build the skeleton of the building at an unimaginable pace of 4.5 stories per week.
Designed in a Beaux-Arts style, the New York Public Library stands in stark contrast to the glass and iron it surrounds. When it opened to the public in 1911, the library officially became the largest marble building ever built in the country. No small task, considering it took 16 years to construct this monolithic structure, but the wait was worth it -- more than 50,000 people showed up on opening day. Fun fact: The two lions in front of the library are called Patience and Fortitude.
Heavily featured in movies and TV, Grand Central Station is one of those places that is on every first time visitors list of iconic places to see in New York City and never dissapoints. The Beaux Arts design transports visitors into an intricately detailed main hall that boasts a celestial ceiling and a famous four-faced clock. Today, Grand Central Terminal is one of the most famous functioning buildings in New York City and sees an average of 750,000 daily visitors.
The iconic architectural feat that houses the Guggenheim Museum in NYC was Frank Lloyd Wright’s most notable achievement. Unfortunately, Wright passed away six months before the museum opened to the public in 1959. This monolithic distinctive concrete structure is considered a work of art itself and attracts more than 1 million visitors per year. Once inside, visitors slowly make their way up a spiral ramp to observe world-famous modern art.
Home to one of the most famous observation decks in New York City, 30 Rockefeller Plaza is one of the most visited buildings in New York City. The brainchild of one of the wealthiest men in the country, John D. Rockefeller, 30 Rockefeller Plaza was constructed during the worst years of the Great Depression and employed more than 40,000 people. Local's Tip: The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller is famous for a reason, don't miss the opportunity to see it in person if you're visiting at Christmas.
Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is often considered the best museum in New York City and it’s not hard to see why. With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Met is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. The Met is one of those rare places you can go a dozen times or more and see something new on every visit.
Located in the heart of the Financial District (the oldest neighborhood in NYC), the New York Stock Exchange stands as a symbol for capitalism. Fitting for a city synonymous with financial power. Visitors are no longer able to tour the interior of this famous NYC building (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks), but, honestly, even just seeing the building from the outside is worth a trip. If you show up at 9:30am or 4pm, you may even hear the ringing of the bell.
The American Museum of Natural History has been a beloved Upper West Side landmark long before the movie Night at the Museum brought it to the mainstream. The museum is a treasure trove of fascinating exhibits for children and adults alike, but the interior isn't the only thing worth seeing. The exterior of the building is beautiful and worth a visit alone.