There are a lot of oddities in New York City. Whether it’s mariachi bands on the train at 7:00 AM, people hashing out important arguments in the street, or rats that drink Hennessy, NYC has no shortage of weirdness.
But when you’re looking for places to visit, things can get ordinary if you’re not careful. Many of NYCs tourist sites have major significance as far as history & culture, but sometimes you just want to try something that breaks the mold.
Thankfully, there are a vast amount of places in the city that bring the sort of immersive, out-there, and downright odd experiences you’re looking for.
There are far too many to talk about in one list, but we’ve put some thought into it & came up with the ones that truly stand out.
You might recognize the name of this one already. It’s the oldest public hospital in the US, founded in 1736, and it’s easily one of the most infamous.
It started out as an almshouse with just six beds, eventually moving to the area where the current building stands in the 1790’s. It eventually became associated with the outcasts of society, and was known for intolerable conditions.
They were especially known for their poor treatment of the mentally ill.
Despite this, it also became known for beginning many practices we consider standard today. They were the first to have maternity & pediatric wards, a morgue, and outpatient units, along with being the first to use hypodermic syringes.
Furthermore, a surgeon who worked there named Edward Barry Dalton, motivated by a desire to get people to care as quickly as possible, created the first ambulance by attaching removable beds to a horse-drawn wagon.
When you visit the hospital today, you’ll find that they’ve raised their standards significantly from their early days. After a crackdown on the city’s asylums in 1972, they began to clean up their practices & eventually closed their psychiatric hospital in 1984 (You can still see it today).
It’s still a public hospital, and they’re considered one of the best in the city. You might not want to plan a day around the visit, but the history in its walls and the impressive nature of the building make it an intriguing stop.
If you want to visit somewhere significantly less stressful (and far less morbid), we’re happy to point you in the direction of the Dream House, an opportunity to step into a surreal audio & visual experience.
It was founded by visual artist Marian Zazeela and La Monte Young in 1993, and they’ve worked to create the sort of sensory presentation that shifts our perspective entirely.
As Zazeela puts it, “Together, the sound and light can be experienced as a new form or new media: the sound and light environment. The experience of the two mediums together as one requires a new, or at least different, mode of attention.”
Located in Lower Manhattan, you can immerse yourself in the audiovisual wave for just $10.
If you want to do the time warp again (or for the first time), Cinépolis Chelsea hosts the only semi-live (read: traditional) version of Rocky Horror Picture Show within 100 miles of NYC, and as someone who’s paid about four or five visits, I can highly recommend their rendition.
Whether you want to do it big & wear a costume or just see what all the hype is about, all are welcome for a mere $10. That’s cheaper than any other movie ticket you’ll find in the city, and those movie theaters don’t even have a dance party before the film starts.
You can even buy props to use during the movie, and once it starts you’ll be treated to costumed performers doing a rendition of the film as it plays in the background, which is what I meant by “semi-live”.
The shows happen every Friday & Saturday at midnight, so you’ll likely have a chance to catch it, but the Halloween show is considered the peak. Tickets go on sale October 1st, and they usually sell out within days, if not sooner. Thank us later for telling you in advance.
Maybe watching a movie/play hybrid doesn’t scratch that theater itch enough for you. Maybe you want to be a part of the performance instead. Third Rail Projects has a proposition for you.
They’d like to formally invite you, and 14 others per performance, to participate in their rendition of Then She Fell, a tale inspired by Alice in Wonderland and the life & writings of Lewis Carroll.
During the show, you & the other members of the audience will go through different rooms, sometimes by yourself.
You’ll discover clues that piece together a detailed history, interact with performers one-on-one, drink various “elixirs,” which are alcoholic & made by a prominent mixologist, and find hidden scenes of the play.
It’ll run you around $200 for a ticket, so you’ll have to save up a little, but this award-winning project promises to be worth every penny.
This wouldn’t be a complete list of intriguing spots in New York City without a store famed for their massive collection of very, very intriguing things.
Enter Obscura Antiques & Oddities.
To your left, right & center, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most interesting & purely strange sights this side of the universe, including two-headed fetal pigs, taxidermied pets, medical art prints, and wide varieties of antiques from the Victorian era & earlier.
They even have a medical model made by one of the main pioneers in the early industry, Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux.
The original Auzoux models were made from a durable papier-mâché he concocted, and they solved a major issue of the time; current models were too fragile & expensive to let medical students touch, and dead bodies would decompose before significant study could be done.
With his invention, students would be able to learn about the human body in an accessible way. The model in the store is a later one made of resin, but it gives off an interesting smell on particularly hot days, and sources say it isn’t unpleasant.