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Greenwich Village, New York
Photograph: Shutterstock/Ryan DeBerardinis

13 amazing hidden streets in NYC to visit right now

Check out these secret pockets of NYC history.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
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New Yorkers might know their city like the back of their hand, but there are some hidden pockets of NYC still to be discovered.

There's always something new taking the place of something old in NYC, but luckily for us, there's still a plethora of old places to explore, you just have to know where to look.

From historic residential groves and tiny roads that have been left behind by the requirements for vehicle traffic to alleyways that were only used for horses and carriages back in the day, below are 10 amazing hidden streets in NYC you can visit right now.

RECOMMENDED: You can now search through 1,500 fascinating historical maps of NYC 

1. Washington Mews (Greenwich Village)

Washington Mews
Photograph: Shaye Weaver/Time Out

A private, gated (but often open) street just north of Washington Square Park, between Fifth Avenue and University Place, is a trip back in time to the day of row houses and stables. These mews (a row of stables) serviced horses from homes in the neighborhood during the 18th and 19th centuries and some were also were homes. Around 1950, NYU rented most of these buildings and converted them into faculty housing and offices. 

2. Doyers Street (Chinatown)

Doyers Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

Once known as the Bloody Angle, Doyers Street is a 200-foot-long curved street between Pell Street to Bowery that was once one of the deadliest streets. Sure, it's full of restaurants like Nom Wah Tea Parlor, barbershops and other stores now, but during the early 20th century, it was the site of numerous killings committed by the Tong Gangs. From hatchet killings to shootings, the street was infamous for its violent events. Its strange curve actually follows the route of an old stream and was also home to the first Chinese language theater in NYC. Now it's a pedestrian-only street that attracts New Yorkers because of its great restaurants and bars. It's not as hidden as it used to be for sure.

3. Gay Street (Greenwich Village)

Gay Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

Another angled street, Gay Street, was named after a family who lived there during colonial times, hence the Federal-style houses on the west side of the street. The stretch, between Christopher Street and Waverly Place, has been in a few different films and videos, including 1943's A Night to Remember, and the music videos for Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and Sheryl Crow's A Change Would Do You Good.

4. Grove Street (West Village)

Grove Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

Only spanning five blocks, Grove Street is lined with Federal-style buildings and leafy trees making for an almost European, old-world feel. Not only does it have one of the city's oldest homes (17 Grove Street), it also has one of the most secret housing developments located between 10 and 12 Grove Street, called Grove Court. Behind a wrought iron gate are just six townhouses that were built in 1853 for the poor, but now they are a hot commodity.

5. Sylvan Terrace (Washington Heights) 

Sylvan Terrace
Photograph: Shutterstock

This street was once the original carriage drive for the Morris-Jumel Mansion, but when the property was sold off in the 1800s, 20 wooden houses were eventually built here before the turn of the 20th century for working-class civil servants and laborers, according to Atlas Obscura. Luckily, since 1970, Sylvan Terrace was designated a city landmark and has been kept uniform as much as possible. One of these homes was recently listed on sale for $1.5 million. Apparently, Lin-Manuel Miranda said this is one of his favorite inspiration spots in NYC.

6. Pomander Walk (Upper West Side)

Pomander Walk
Photograph: Shutterstock

Another gated community, Pomander Walk can be found between 94th and 95th streets between Broadway and West End Avenue. You'll know it by the rooster on an iron sign that hangs above its entrance. When you look through the gate, you might not believe your eyes. This small street with homes facing each other looks like something out of a Disney movie. That's because Thomas Healy, who bought the property in 1920, was inspired by a rom-com play called Pomander Walk that was set in "a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick (London)," according to scoutingny.com. The homes were eventually divided into apartments and landmarked in 1982. One of the homes sold for about $2.5 million recently.

7. Verandah Place (Cobble Hill)

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Situated in Cobble Hill's Historic District, this little street harkens back to its mid-1800s roots with townhouses and a park across the way. Unlike the name suggests, it was originally a mews for carriages and horses. It is just one block long and 20 feet wide, making for a unique pass-through for walkers. Like many of these hidden streets, Verandah Place also became a hotbed for criminal activity in the early 20th century (what street wasn't?). According to untappedcities.com, the police at the time said it was the worst spot in the entire precinct. Years later in 1967, it was landmarked and preserved.

8. Freeman Alley (Bowery) 

This isn't a street so much as it is a dead-end alleyway on Rivington Street between the Bowery and Chrystie Street. Yes, Freemans restaurant resides there, but at the turn of the 20th century, it was the site of a breadline from the Bowery Mission, according to ephemeralnewyork.com

9. Warren Place Mews (Cobble Hill)

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Hidden between Warren and Baltic streets, this little alley-like residential property with townhouses and cottages will make you swear you're not in New York City anymore. It's not a mews like the other locations we described. This was actually built as a working-class housing development in 1879 by Alfred Tredway White. Now, 34 homes still exist here and sell for millions.

10. Hunts Lane (Brooklyn Heights)

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This mews on a dead-end street is off Henry Street near Remsen and feel frozen in time, according to brownstoner.com. Its carriage houses from the turn of the 20th century go for millions now, but back in the day, horses lived here. A common theme for many of these secret streets.

11. Stone Street

Stone Street, sitting between Whitehall Street in the west and Hanover Square, is one of NYC's oldest streets. It has been around since the Dutch were here and in 1658 it became the first cobbled street in New Amsterdam. After the British moved in, it was called Duke Street before it was paved in 1794 and renamed Stone Street. The old path is actually preserved in the curved lobby of 85 Broad Street, according to The New York Times. It's not exactly secret, but it's certainly lesser known than most roads in NYC.

"Between the 1970s and '90s, it was a back alley and a place for low-level drug sales," Carl Weisbrod, a current board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, told us last year. In the 90s, it became a shared street, where the public could dine out at restaurants on the street, including Stone Street Tavern. "It has served as the forerunner, not only in Lower Manhattan about what can be done with open space, restaurants and entertainment and a new use for public streets, but a model for Open Streets and Open Restaurants. It's a major accomplishment."

12. Cortlandt Alley

For being the most-filmed street in NYC, Cortlandt Alley isn't well known. You've probably passed it so many times and wondered about it as we have. Sitting in Chinatown, this narrow, dark alley is pretty gritty with graffiti, rusted fire escapes and creepy doors you wouldn't want to enter. It served as the backdrop for those violent scenes in Gotham and Crocodile Dundee and NYPD Blue. It's not actually scary though—the city's smallest museum, Mmuseumm, and luxury apartments are located here. And yes, the street is named after a descendant of the landowning Dutch colonial family, the Van Cortlandts.

13. Patchin' Place

This cul-de-sac is located within Greenwich Village off 10th Street and Greenwich Avenue and sits between 10 brick rowhouses. It has one of two of the city's still-standing 19th-century gas street lamp (it's running electric these days) and the three-story brick homes here were built in 1848 as boarding houses. The houses were owned by the Patchin family until 1920. This alleyway is famous among writers because it's where several famous writers, including Theodore Dreiser, E. E. Cummings, John Cowper Powys and Djuna Barnes lived. Now, apparently, it has been home to many therapists' offices and almost two dozen residents, according to the Times.

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