New York’s History in 20 Buildings

The city of New York has not always been what we see now. Today, this city is included in the topmost developed cities of the world, but it once used to be a normal city struggling to get on the top. The structure of the city has changed a lot in the process of development, but some of the architectural valuables are still preserved. These buildings reflect the historic values of New York. Some of the most important buildings that describe the history of this amazing city are as follows:

Note: The following list is in no specific order.

69th Regiment Armory


The 68th Regiment Armory at 68 Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets in Manhattan

The 69th Regiment Armory is a National Guard Armory Building. It is located in the rose hillside of Manhattan. This historical asset of America was built in 1904 to 1906. Since then, it has been used for many purposes.

The state has used this building in different styles from decades to decades. It has been a house of modern art where famous artists showed off their works and talents. This place has also hosted several Victoria Secret Fashion Shows. The army officers have used this building as a residential place as well. All in all, this building is known for its versatility.

Now, it has been declared as a National Landmark of History. People from all over the world come and visit this place and learn about the role it has played in the development of New York.

American Stock Exchange Building


Looking southwest across Church Street (Manhattan) at American Stock Exchange on a sunny afternoon

Before this building Historic, most of the stock market of New York was dealt on the curbside. When this place was built in 1921, it provided a center to the market investors to get under one roof and carry out business in complete peace.

This building is one of the greatest architectural pieces in New York. When it was being constructed, it left people with no words. It is located between Greenwich Street and Trinity Street with an exterior that complements its surroundings. The interior of the building was designed to cater to the officers with maximum ease. Hence the whole place has large windows that face into the offices. 

This building has been declared as a historic landmark of the country. And it surely deserves to be on that list. It has preserved ways of how the New York market used to deal for the longest times. This place has served the state with pure honesty.

Bartow-Pell Mansion


A picture of Bartow-Pell Mansion

This famous mansion that once belonged to the Bartow family is now a museum house located in the north side of the Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Although the estate and residence date back to 1654, the mansion was built in 1836, which was enlarged, renovated, and remodeled to become what it is today. It turned out to be the best Modern Greek model of architecture at that time. 

With its amazing garden exterior and antique but beautiful interior, this place truly reflects the modernization and historic values of New York. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Bayard–Condict Building


Entry and lower façade of the Bayard-Condict Building

The infamous Bayard Building that was once known as Condict Building has definitely played an essential role in the development of New York. This beautiful commercial building with a white terra cotta exterior grabbed attention soon after it was built in 1899.

This building is situated in the heart of Manhattan, and it complements the idea of Chicago style architecture. This building has been known for its sky-scraping height (49 meters) and amazingly detailed exterior. 

Bayard-Condict Building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1975 and a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Bell Laboratories Building (Manhattan)


Bell Laboratories Building

The well-known Bell Telephone Labs are a 13-building complex located in the Washington Street of Manhattan. This laboratory has been the house of all the pioneering technology that New York has produced. 

From telephones to vacuum tube and the first experimental talking movies, every single technology product has been crafted in the vicinity of these buildings. They have played an important role in the development of New York and thus was added in the list of National Historic Landmarks in 1975.

Brooklyn Heights Historic District


picture of the Brooklyn Historical Society (formerly the Long Island Historical Society)

Brooklyn Heights is one of the earliest residential projects in New York. This project was initiated to provide an easy lifestyle to the public. This building was mostly used by college students and young adults who stayed at the apartments as rentals. 

This building gave the initiative to a new lifestyle choice, and the general public heavily appreciated it. Due to how it has changed the perspective of apartment life, this building has been declared as the historic landmark of New York. 

Central Synagogue (Manhattan)


The Central Synagogue (Congregation Ahavath Chesed), located at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of East 55th Street, Manhattan

Situated in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the Central Synagogue is one of the oldest buildings in America that was built in 1870 to 1872. It has been home to thousands of people who come and pray in the vicinity of this place. It was declared as the historic landmark of the Country in 1975 as it has been standing at its place strongly for a very long time.

In addition to this, Central Synagogue as also designated a New York City Landmark in 1966.

Chrysler Building


picture of Chrysler Building

This Art Deco building that once held the status of the World’s Largest Building has a rich history attached to it. Anyone who has even the slightest idea of New York surely knows about this skyscraper. 

With its staple exterior and chic looking architecture, this building got famous as soon as it was opened on May 27, 1930. Because of its signature attention-grabbing style, it was declared as a National historical landmark very early, in 1976 and a New York City Landmark in 1978. This building has undoubtedly played the part of attracting people towards the city.

New York City Hall


Exterior of New York City Hall

New York City Hall, constructed from 1803 to 1812, is one of the most important historic landmarks of New York because it is the functional machinery of the city. Located in the lower Manhattan, it was home to a government official and hence proved to be the backbone of the country. 

The City Hall is included in the list of the oldest buildings in New York. It reflects how previous governments used to operate. It possesses the current mayor’s office, and several government functions are carried out in this building daily.

Daily News Building


Colorized postcard image of the Daily News Building, looking southeast from Chrysler Building

This 145-meter-high skyscraper is commonly known in public as The News Building. With a total of 36 floors, this building was built in 1929 to store and manage all kinds of news media. 

One of the most popular things about this building is the fact that it houses one of the World’s Largest Indoor Globes. This globe has been preserved for the education and exhibition purposes. Both the interior and exterior of this masterpiece was designed by glass that adds up to the overall modern vibe of the building.

The lobby of The News Building housing one of the World’s Largest Indoor Globes

The Dakota

The Dakota Building as seen from Central Park West

In the year 1882, the building named Dakota Apartments was built on the upper west side of Manhattan. This building, in all its glory, represents the urbanization of New York City. With the classic terracotta exterior and deep roofs, The Dakota represents the German architectural style.

With a total of 65 modern style apartments, the Dakota building brought a new definition to the apartment lifestyle in New York City. The interior design of the apartments was laid out after getting inspired by French architectural trends in housing design. 

The building also provided several amenities to its residents, including the gym and swimming pool. Keeping in mind how it changed people’s perspective towards apartment life, this building correctly secured its name in the list of National Historic Landmarks of the country in 1976.   

Dyckman House


Looking west across Broadway at Dyckman farmhouse on a cloudy midday

This is not an ordinary building. It is, in fact, the oldest farmhouse in the city of New York built in circa 1785. Located at the corner of Broadway, Manhattan, this place spreads over 250 acres of land.

It is a two-story building with architecture inspired by the Dutch Colonial Style. The interior was built with attention to weather change. It features a winter kitchen that can work as a heater as well. The woodwork of the house flooring was carried out by chestnut wood, and the back of the house was crafted carefully as to resemble a maze.

When the government of New York realized the importance of this house, they added it to the list of National Historic Landmarks in 1967.

Eldridge Street Synagogue


photo of Eldridge Street Synagogue

This Synagogue is one of the first prayer places for Jews that the United States produced. It was built in 1887 on the location of Chinatown, Manhattan. The reason for this building’s unparalleled popularity is its spiritual values. It is known as a symbol of the expansion of the neighborhood in the late 80s. 

This building has a museum in the lowest floor. People from all around come to visit this place to experience the spiritual magic that this place withholds. The Eldridge Street Synagogue holds an incomparable value in the history of America and its Jewish citizens.

Green-Wood Cemetery


The Gothic Revival northern gate of Green-Wood Cemetery

This 478-acre piece of land is located in the vicinity of Brooklyn. Green-Wood Cemetery was planned and crafted as the first Brooklyn Central Park. Even though it could not become what its makers had in mind, it became something even more spectacular. This cemetery contains about 600,000 graves, a private chapel, and several ponds. 

The fascinating thing about this place is that it is now home to thousands of heroes who lost their lives due to various causes. It holds the graves of all the Titanic survivors. Even the soldiers who lost their lives while protecting their homeland in the wars are also buried in the land of Green-wood. 

From good to the worse, this place has truly seen all the colors of New York. 

Low Memorial Library


The Low Memorial Library

Despite what its name directs, this iconic library is definitely one of the true staples of New York City. This building was built in 1895 on the Land of Columbia University. Its architecture was heavily inspired by the Royal harams. Once it was on its feet, it became insanely popular among students.

But the reason for its popularity is not limited to the fact that it was amazingly beautiful. It has been the center of all the attention for the students from day one. From protests to meetings, this building has been utilized for everything from decade to decade. 

It was designated a New York City landmark in 1967 and then a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower


The Met Life Tower as seen from below

This insanely beautiful Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower is an 11-story skyscraper located at Madison Square, Manhattan. This tower is well known throughout the world more commonly by the name of New York Clock Tower or the Met Life Tower.

It gained popularity among locals when it started to feature the new multi-colored light system on the top of the tower. People from all across the world come to visit this place and wish to get to the top. This building is included in the oldest skyscrapers of New York City and thus counted as a historic asset of the city.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

55 Wall Street


Picture of the National City Bank Building at 55 Wall Street between William and Hanover Streets in the Financial District of downtown Manhattan

Constructed in 1841, the building of 55 Wall Street, is commonly known as the Merchants’ Exchange – designed by Isaiah Rogers in the Greek Revival Architectural Style. This building has served New York through all thick and thins. It has been the center of money exchange, stock exchange, and banking for decades now. 

This building has not only functioned as the money machine for the country. After the 9/11 incident, this place was evacuated and converted into a relief center for survivors. 

With its amazing architecture and rich history, the National City Bank Building is quite famous in the general population. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and a New York City Landmark in 1965.

Federal Hall


View of the Federal Hall from North

Federal Hall is an iconic building that was constructed in 1842. It served as the first-ever City Hall of New York. This staple piece of architecture was designed when half the city was still just land and forest. This place not only became home to the Governor and his family, but it also welcomed every policymaker that could live inside. 

From classy exterior to practical interior, this building was put together with attention to every little detail. Since its construction, it has been renovated thrice. In the present, it has been converted into a museum to showcase the history of the city. Even though this building gets blurred in the crowds of lower Manhattan, it still manages to shine through.  

New York Public Library Main Branch


Picture of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library, more widely known as the Main Branch or simply as the New York Public Library

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, also called as New York Public Library Main Branch, is one of the most important historical landmarks of the city. This building truly represents the development of New York. It was built in the early 1900s in the vicinity of Midtown Manhattan. This place has seen all the struggles of New York City. 

Now used as a research library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was once the most important asset of the state. People from all over the city come and spend their days in the rooms of this building to study and explore the rich history.

Want to know more about the oldest libraries of New York? Check out our article on A Guide to the Oldest Libraries of New York.

Plaza Hotel


a picture of the Plaza Hotel

The Plaza Hotel is one of the most famous luxury hotels in New York City of all times. It was built in the year 1907. This hotel is a 20-floor high skyscraper and right after it was constructed and opened, it received massive popularity. People from all over the world obsess over this stunning plaza. It features condo apartments, restaurants, hotels, ballroom, and whatnot.

When this building was designed, it settled the bar so high that no one could touch it. The Plaza Hotel definitely blessed New York with unparalleled appreciation and attention. This building has played a crucial role in the modernization of New York.


The New York City that we all know and admire didn’t use to be this modern always. New York City took a whole journey of development and change to get to its current position. It was the untiring efforts of the architects and builders who produced such masterpieces for the city. These buildings have changed the fate of the state and even the entire country. 

All these historic buildings of New York City deserve to be preserved as a lesson of motivation for our future generations. It is a saying that a modern city is known by its infrastructure, and New York has proven that.