When hearing the word ‘New York’, most people think of the Big Apple. What might come to mind are the hustle and bustle of the city, the swarms of people at Times Square, famous New York City landmarks like Central Park, and the overall glamour and allure of big city life. New York State itself is often overlooked. This north-eastern state also has incredible natural beauty and historical appeal.
New York is the United States 11th state and is often nicknamed the Empire State. The state capital is Albany and was the site of the first European settlement in America. The natural beauty of New York state is incredible. From the mighty Niagara Falls to the famed Hudson River, New York certainly is not short of natural allure.
The Adirondack Park is the USA’s largest national park outside of Alaska. Within parks such as the Adirondacks are a wide variety of animals such as moose, bears and raccoons. Bluebirds, the state bird, can also be found in New Yorks tranquil forests.
New York has a long history, with people first settling in 10,000BC. It is home to the United Nations headquarters, secret train stations and the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Here are 20 incredible natural and historical landmarks in New York State that you cannot miss when visiting.
- 21 New York Landmarks
- Natural Landmarks in New York
- Historic Landmarks in New York
21 New York Landmarks
Natural Landmarks in New York
1- Finger Lakes
Finger Lakes are a series of long and narrow lakes in this eponymous region.
The lakes get their name from Iroquois legend that says the finger-like lakes are an impression of the Great Spirit’s fingers.
With such a vast number of lakes in the region, the Finger Lakes is incredibly popular with those searching for a natural escape.
Within the region are state parks, waterfalls, gorges and thick forests.
The Finger Lakes is famous for its vineyards and wine tours, including visits to vineyards and their production lines, boat tours of the region and food tours.
Finger Lakes is at Finger Lakes Region, New York.
2- Thousand Islands
Thousand Islands is a collection of more than 1800 islands dotted along the St Lawrence River for 50 miles (80km).
The river straddles the US Canadian border.
The islands vary in size, from 40 square miles (100 kilometres squared) to small islands occupied by only one resident.
There are rules in place which dictates that an island must feature at least 1 square foot (0.093 meters squared) above the water level and have two living trees.
The largest island in the river belonging to New York is Grindstone Island.
The islands make for a fascinating visit as some islands feature old ruins, stunning 19th-century mansions and nature reserves.
Thousand Islands is at St Lawrence River, between Kingston and Brockville.
3- The Adirondacks
The Adirondacks form part of the Canadian Shield and are formed of densely wooded hills and stunning lakes.
The region stretches for more than six million acres and features the largest protected area in the United States outside of Alaska.
Within the region are famous lakes such as Saranac and Tupper, both popular locations for canoeing and kayaking.
The highest peak in the Adirondacks is Mount Marcy at 5345ft (1629m), making for spectacular year-round hiking and climbing opportunities.
Head to the Adirondack Seaway close to the Canadian border for mysterious shipwreck dives surrounded by natural beauty.
The Adirondacks is at Keene, NY 12943.
4- Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in New York State as it plunges over 215ft (65m) into the gorge below.
Reaching the falls is possible following a pleasant hike along the gorge or rim trails which offer incredible views of the falls and the 400ft (121m) gorge the falls sits inside.
Camping is available within the National Park for those looking to extend their stay in this breathtaking area.
In addition to hiking, cross-country skiing and skating ponds are also available during the winter months.
Taughannock Falls is at Taughannock Blvd., Trumansburg, NY 14886.
5- Saratoga Spa
It has long been believed in American culture that the waters of Saratoga hold healing properties.
This belief led to the creation of many spas and health centres within the region and the city of Saratoga Springs itself.
The springs were formed during the Paleozoic period after fault lines in the bedrock split the ground open. Water gradually forced its way to the surface.
During the early 1900s, companies bottled the water from the Springs.
Due to this frenzy, the area was declared a state park, and the government introduced conservation efforts to protect the area’s natural springs and landscape.
Saratoga Spa is at 19 Roosevelt Dr, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
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6- Watkins Glen Waterfalls
Nestled in the Finger Lakes region is the Watkins Glen Waterfalls.
Unlike other waterfalls in the area, Watkins Glen Waterfalls fall over a series of 19 small drops throughout the glen.
The waterfalls are at the southern tip of Seneca Lake.
Watkins Glen stretches over a 2-mile area and drops for 400 ft (122m).
Within the glen are 200ft (61m) high cliffs carved by the water, swimming areas, and many beautiful hiking trails.
Watkins Glen Waterfalls is at Watkins Glen State Park, 971 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY14891.
7- Lake Placid
Lake Placid sits at the base of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks region.
The lake has an average depth of 50ft (15m), covers 2170 acres (878 ha) and has three islands: Moose, Hawk and Buck.
The lake is fed from freshwater springs in the mountains and provides drinking water for the same name’s town.
Loons and osprey are often seen, making the lake a nature lovers location.
There are also numerous camping grounds dotting the shoreline.
Lake Placid is at Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid.
8- Howe Caverns
Howe Caverns were formed over millions of years as underground streams carved the limestone rocks away.
Native Americans first explored the caverns in the early 1700s.
Over the century, the cave became forgotten until Lester Howe, and his family learnt about the cave and its hidden entrance after moving to a home nearby.
The caverns opened to the public in the mid-1800s.
Howe Caverns sits 156ft (48m) below the surface.
The caves are long and narrow corridors, vast galleries, boulders, a subterranean riverbed and an underground lake.
Howe Caverns is at 255 Discovery Dr, Howes Cave, NY 12092.
9- Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain stands at 4867ft (1483m) above sea level and is the state’s fifth-highest mountain peak.
From the summit, a 360-degree view across the Adirondacks is offered and views across Vermont.
Montreal’s skyscrapers in Canada are 80km (50 miles) away and can be seen on a clear day.
The mountain’s east slope is a dedicated skiing area that holds regular skiing and winter sports competitions.
The mountain is a famous place for hikers due to its highly accessible Veterans’ Memorial Highway trail.
The highway leads to a car park at 4699ft (1400m), with a tunnel and elevator taking visitors the remaining 267ft (81m).
Whiteface Mountain is at Wilmington, NY 12997.
10- Chimney Bluffs
Rising 175ft (53m) out of the water at the edge of Lake Ontario are the Chimney Bluffs, an uniquely shaped rock formation.
The Bluffs, known scientifically as drumlins, form one of the largest drumlin fields in North America as they cover 12000 kilometres squared (4633 square miles).
There are approximately 10,000 drumlins in the area that stretches from Lake Ontario’s shores to the Finger Lakes.
The bluffs’ unique shapes are caused by weathering and are retreating by up to 5ft (1.52m) each year due to nature.
The best way to view the bluffs on the lake’s shores is from the pebble beach itself, as climbing the cliffs to view from above is highly dangerous.
Chimney Bluffs is at 7700 Garner Road, Wolcott, NY 14590
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Historic Landmarks in New York
11- Statue of Liberty
For many arriving immigrants, the Statue of Liberty was their first glimpse of America.
This welcoming and mighty statue stands 305ft (93m) from the ground to the torch’s tip.
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, designed the statue, which was then built by Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel Tower.
In 1886, the statue was a gift to the Americans from the French.
The Statue of Liberty is made from copper, which over the years has given the statue its famous greenish hue.
The Statue of Liberty is designed around Libertas, the robed Roman goddess of liberty.
There are many unique historical features on the Statue of Liberty, including the date July 4th 1776, inscribed in Roman numerals to represent when the United States gained independence.
There’s a broken shackle laying by her feet, an addition made to commemorate the abolition of slavery.
The Statue of Liberty is at Liberty Island, New York, NY 10004.
12- Montauk Lighthouse
Montauk Lighthouse sits on the tip of eastern Long Island and is the oldest lighthouse in the state, built in 1796.
Montauk has been looked after by members of the US lighthouse service and the US coastguard.
Climb the lighthouse for incredible views over Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
Within the lighthouse is the Montauk Lighthouse Oceans’ Institute, which aims to identify, educate and explain challenges about the oceans and other waterways and provide solutions associated with the ecology.
Montauk Lighthouse is at 2000 Montauk Highway, Montauk, NY 11954.
13- The Edward M. Cotter
Crescent Shipbuilding of Elizabeth City, New Jersey, built the Edward M. Cotter fireboat in 1900.
It is possibly the oldest active fireboat globally and is still used today by the Buffalo Fire Department.
The boat has had three names during its services.
In 1900 the boat was named the William S. Grattan, before being renamed ‘Firefighter’ following an extensive renovation in 1953.
A year later, in 1954, authorities renamed the boat ‘Edward M. Cotter’ in memory of a Buffalo firefighter and leader of a local firefighters union who had died that year.
The Edward M. Cotter is at 155 Ohio St, Buffalo, NY 14203.
14- Sagamore Hill
Sagamore Hill, also known as the ‘Summer White House’, was former President Theodore Roosevelt’s home.
The house is in Cove Neck, Long Island and named after a Native American chief called Sagamore Mohannis, who had lived on the hill during the 1800s.
The home consists of 22 rooms kept in the same style and is complete with artefacts, furnishings and personal objects from when Roosevelt lived there with his family.
The home today serves as a museum and is surrounded by many pleasant hiking trails and nature walks.
Sagamore Hill is at 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771.
15- Boldt Castle
Boldt Castle makes up part of the many attractions of Thousand Islands and was built on Heart Island.
George C. Boldt, a millionaire hotel magnate, wanted the castle to be built in Thousand Islands during 1900 as a summer home.
The castle was a tribute to Boldt’s wife, Louise, but she suddenly passed away before the castle was completed.
Following her death, Boldt ceased construction, and the castle lay unfinished and abandoned for 70 years.
The castle was eventually purchased and renovated by The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority.
Visitors can step inside this beautiful and romantic home to explore and experience the 1900s and the castles tragic tale.
Boldt Castle is at 1 Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607.
16- New York State Capitol
Completed in 1899, the New York State Capitol is a grand Romanesque Revival and Neo-Renaissance building in Albany’s capital city.
Thomas Fuller, Leopold Eidlitz, Henry Hobson Richardson and Issac G. Perry were the architects behind the building’s design.
Within the Capitol are bright and open entrance ways, ceiling murals reflecting battles and a large equestrian sculpture of civil war general Philip Sheridan.
State Capitol is at State Street and Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12224.
17- George Eastman House
Built in 1905, George Eastman House celebrates the life and works of George Eastman, a pioneer of photography and motion picture.
The house underwent serious renovations before being opened to the public, which returned it to its original appearance.
Within the grounds to the house is the International Museum of Photography and Film.
The museum was founded in 1947 and is the worlds oldest photography museum.
It also houses one of the worlds oldest film archives.
Within the museum is an extensive collection relating to photography, cinema, and technology, making up the several million objects displayed.
George Eastman House and the International Museum of Photography and Film is at 900 East Avenue, Rochester, New York.
18- Darwin D. Martin House Complex
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed the Darwin D. Martin House complex in 1904.
It is considered to be one of the most important architectural works of Lloyd Wright’s career.
The estate was designed at the height of Lloyd Wright’s Prairie House era.
The house is filled with nearly 400 stained glass windows, which connect the house’s exterior to the interior through shape and colour.
The house is open to the public and offers visitors an understanding of the architect, the house and its unique design.
Darwin D. Martin House Complex is at 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo.
19- Chrysler Building
A marvel of Art Deco architecture is the Chrysler Building.
William Van Alen designed the building following Walter P. Chrysler’s purchase of the land.
Chrysler, the founder of Chrysler Corporation, was a key player in the automotive industry.
Construction was completed in 1930 and the building is 1,048ft (319m) tall, with a 125ft (38m) steel spire.
The building features common Art Deco traits such as the sunburst motif towards the spire, which represented optimism and strength despite the ongoing Great Depression, and the use of pyramids, a pivotal link to the interest surrounding Ancient Egypt.
Chrysler Building is at 405 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10174.
20- Harriet Tubman Home
Harriet Tubman was a leader in the Underground Railroad movement, which helped slaves escape their captors.
Tubman had been born into slavery in Maryland but gained her freedom in 1849 following her escape to Philadelphia.
Over 10 years, Tubman would free more than 70 slaves.
Tubman also played an essential role during the civil war as she acted as a spy, cook and nurse.
Following the civil war, Tubman kept her desire to help others as she became active in women’s rights movements, continuing her support of former slaves, and became involved in the AME Zion Church.
The home, which was once part of Tubman’s nursing home for destitute and aged former slaves, is now open to the public and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Harriet Tubman Home is at 180 South Street, Auburn, NY 13021.