New York City is a fab place. Infinite skyline, crazy sick energy, never-ending inspiration. It is amazingly easy, however, to fall into tourist traps and never get a bite of the genuine city life. Walk away from the crowd’s jungle and uncover the real Empire State of Mind in these five less-known places.

NY aerial tram to Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island Tramway

Very few people know this 4-minute ride, which offers spectacular views. Nonetheless, it has been praised by NY Times as “the most exciting view in New York City”. Ticket is a mere $2.25 each way ($4 for a round trip) and connects the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island! Not only this tram allows you to see Queens and Manhattan from high above the traffic jams below, but it is the only aerial commuter tram in the country.

Red Hook Grain Elevator

Red Hook Grain Elevator

Alone at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, this century-old abandoned refinery factory features huge silos for exploring and boasts a fantastic view of the city skyline. 12 stories high and 430 feet long, containing 54 cement silos. Furthermore, each one is 120 feet tall and with walls eight inches thick. It was opened in 1922, seven years after the last grain terminal in Brooklyn was converted into a storage warehouse. Consequently, it won the appellation of “Magnificent Mistake”.

The New York Earth Room

The New York Earth Room

A somewhat unusual art installation in the midst of Soho’s chic boutiques. At 141 Wooster Street, the Dia Foundation runs the Earth Room: an otherwise pristine white loft filled wall-to-wall with 280,000 pounds of dirt. Earthworks artist Walter De Maria created the installation in 1977, and the soil has never changed. A tranquil place for meditative moments.

New York Old City Hall Subway Station

Old City Hall Subway Station

The City Hall station opened in 1904 and was the very first station in New York City. Fifteen tiled arches support the ceiling along with three panels of glass skylights. The mezzanine features a vaulted ceiling crowned by a leaded glass skylight. Rich tones of red brick, green and cream tiles contrast with the blue glass in the windows. The result is a stunning visual and architectural feat. Unfortunately, the curvature of the platform could not accommodate the longer trains we see today. With no extensive renovation, the station was decommissioned in 1945. It was then designated an interior landmark in 1979. You can visit it only through MTA Transit Museum, or you can stay on the 6 train after the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge: if the old station is lighted, you can catch a glimpse of the platform.

Fragment of the Berlin Wall, New York

Fragment of the Berlin Wall, 520 Madison Ave.

Around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art is a five-panel segment of the Berlin Wall. While you can find fragments of the wall all over the world, this is one of the most significant sections still intact. The slab was purchased directly from the East German government by the Real Estate mogul Jerry Speyer. It once used to sit outside but was recently moved inside of the lobby of 520 Madison Avenue, which is open to the public 24/7.