Top 10 Iconic Structures in New York City

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Wandering the streets of New York City is the catalyst for many visitors to explore the amazing sights and attractions. However, the main reasons for visiting the so-called Big Apple vary depending on your personal preference but I am convinced that most people experiencing New York City for the first time will likely want to see some of the symbolic landmarks there.

For those of you that have either never visited New York City (folks, if this refers to you, I urge you to book a flight to NYC as soon as possible because you are missing out!) or just haven’t experienced all of the key landmarks, here are our Top 10 Iconic Structures in New York City worth checking out.

During our recent visit, we decided to make our way from Penn Station to Central Park and from that point we made our way all the way through Manhattan taking in some of the world’s must lucrative and iconic structures.

The map below represents the locations of the 10 iconic structures in New York City that we visited!

Top 10 Iconic Structures in New York City

Times Square

Let’s start out with the king of all attractions in New York City – Times Square, which in my opinion is the ultimate 24 hour spot of the world! Whether you are into the party scene, bar hopping or more of a theater fanatic, there is something here for everyone at all times during the day.

Time Square New York City

You may be asking ‘How is Times Square an iconic structure in New York City’? Well, just take a look at the picture and let me know if you are still saying that! When I think about Times Square, this is the image I have in my mind with large, glaring billboards advertising the latest and greatest Broadway plays or when the next live showing of Good Morning America will air.

All of the structures along Times Square are designed to fit the mood, atmosphere and ambience here, even the many Starbucks in this part of New York City have that feel about them!

Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center or Rockefeller Plaza as it is also referred, is a complex of commercial buildings that provides an iconic location in Midtown Manhattan. Although there are many reasons for visiting the Rockefeller Center, there are two that stand out with the first being the home to the ‘Top of the Rock’.

Alongside the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, it is one of the most frequently visited locations for breathtaking views of the New York City skyline and surrounding areas.

Rockefeller Center New York City

This landmark is also home to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Thousands and thousands of visitors flock here every year to see the lighting of the tree and with the ice skating rink in the plaza directly in front of the building, it is an iconic structure worth visiting.

New York Public Library

Moving away from the modern day architectural design, one of the most iconic structures throughout Manhattan is the New York Public Library that dates back to the end of the 19th Century. I remember visiting here during my first trip to New York City several years ago, and one of our assignments was to conduct some research inside the Public Library. I have to admit that this was a treat in itself and I am not talking about the actual assignment!

New York City Public Library

Studying in libraries may not be everyone’s favorite pastime, but when you step inside the doors of New York’s Public Library you may well be encouraged to grab a book just because of the gorgeous interior that matches the majestic exterior aesthetics.

Grand Central Terminal

What is the most famous train station in the world? I’m sure that many of you would say Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Dating back to 1871, not only does this provide New York with a historic landmark but it is also one of the busiest stations throughout the world.

Grand Central Station New York City

Undoubtedly a hub for tourists to stand in the main terminal and look in awe at the interior design, it is also a key commuter spot for locals to make their way around New York and beyond.

Empire State Building

Once the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building still stands proudly along New York City’s skyline and is a must-see structure for people visiting. I have visited New York City five times now and only on our last trip did I not take the trip to the summit of this symbolic building.

Empire State Building New York City

Standing at 1,250ft tall, it is still one of America’s tallest buildings and second to only the new One World Trade Center in New York City.

The Empire State Building is more than just a view. It’s an immersive experience inside a world famous landmark.

I love this quote taking directly from the Empire State Building’s website because I completely agree that each time you set foot in the building, you will likely see and experience something uniquely different when peering across the miles of New York City landscape. The views from the top are amazing and will definitely provide you with memories and images that you will cherish for years to come.

Chrysler Building

Did you know that the tallest building in the world for 11 months was the Chrysler Building in New York City? Ok, so we are talking about back in 1930-1931 but this is still one of the most legendary structures around and well worth taking a peek as you make your way through Manhattan.

Chrysler Building New York City

Dubbed as an ‘art-deco’ style structure, it clearly accomplishes the French geometric shape design of this stylistic approach.

Flatiron Building

Upon completion in 1902, the Flatiron Building not only provided one of the tallest buildings in New York City but it introduced an iconic skyscraper due to it’s quirky yet relevant design.

Flatiron Building New York City

One of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, and a quintessential symbol of New York City.

You may be wondering where on earth the name “Flatiron” derived from…well, if you are accustomed to household chores you will likely see the resemblance in the design of this building with one of the archaic cast-iron clothing iron!

It is currently being used as an office building for various organizations but in 2009 it was bought out by a luxury Italian real-estate company that envisions turning this into a luxury hotel! This may have to wait for several years until the leases of the current business tenants expire.

One World Trade Center

As you approach the site of the 9/11 Memorial and home to the former World Trade Centers, there is a distinct blend of feelings here ranging from the sombre, reflective mindset to the more positive feeling as you peer into the sky and see the new One World Trade Center that now stands proudly as the tallest building in USA.

One World Trade Center New York City

Standing at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center offers a variety of commercial outlets including business space, world-class restaurants and an observation deck. It’s location directly to the side of the 9/11 Memorial will make this a location that will symbolize New York and America’s ‘Freedom’ for many years to come.

New York Stock Exchange

One of the older buildings in New York City is the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) located on the world famous Wall Street. Interested in finance? The NYSE is the spot for you! Interested in gorgeous architecture? The NYSE is the spot for you!

New York Stock Exchange

In fact, even if neither of these interest you, take a walk past the Charging Bull monument and head down Wall Street to take a look at a building where billions of dollars worth of trading takes place on a daily basis!

Statue of Liberty

Are you tired yet? If you have managed to experience all of the above structures in New York City and want to wind down and relax in front of the most iconic of them all, head to Battery Park and check out the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty New York City

Words don’t do the statue justice, so I would prefer to just leave you in the moment and look at the picture and imagine experiencing this after everything else in New York City!

So there you have our review of the Top 10 Iconic Structures in New York City. What would you add to this list? 

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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]


    • I really wanted to include Brooklyn Bridge but given that we didn’t experience this during our last visit I opted against it! One of the hardest tasks is actually refining the list down to only 10!!

  1. I’ve been to most of these, but not to One World Trade Center. When I visited, the twin towers were still there which just goes to show how long it’s been since I was last there. Would love to go back – it’s a wonderful city. Next time I think I’ll skip on doing the marathon as well, though… there’s enough walking around to do as it is. 😉

  2. I need to go back to see 1 WTC – it was only half up when we were there and even then it was massive! Looks like you saw most of the city on your trip – did you get to walk the high line? I love that!

  3. last weekend I opened a box with old pictures, I had one taken from the Empire State with the Twin Towers in the back end. I think I should go again to take it the picture again.

  4. Love this list and definitely agree that these places are probably the most famous icons of NYC – when you think about NYC you can’t help thinking about one of these!
    I’ve seen them all, and it’s been special: I mean, how many times we might have seen these in movies or TV shows? And seeing them live what something great – like meeting a celebrity IRL.
    We climbed the Empire (well, with the elevator of course, not like King Kong 😉 ) and the view from above was amazing, altough it was incredibly crowded. My friend who had done the Top of the Rock on her previous visit said it was somehow more quiet.
    The Chrysler is my fave skyscrapers! Looks like it comes from some distopic universe where in the Middle Ages instead of building cathedrals they built skyscrapers! – because of the gothic appeal in it.
    Times Square was the very first thing I saw of NYC – and omg. Overwhelming but awesome. I mean, this place is incredible. And totally is an icon!
    I would have added to the list, besides Central Park (for which I see you’ve made a post apart), also Chinatown and Little Italy. I see them as icons of NYC as well, completely different from what you can find in Manhattan.

  5. I used to live in NY city so you made me a bit nostalgic here. I would have added a few more spots though… The main one would have to be the UN building at UN Plaza. We get to see it every time the UN is brought up on tv for whatever reason. I would dare say it is of historic importance too, given the work of the UN. It is also very interesting to visit the UN and see the General Assembly and the Security Council meeting rooms 🙂

    I totally agree with the Grand Central Station choice: I used to walk by and inside every day (I lived really close) and totally loved it!

  6. Great post Chris, it’s very handy to have the NY iconic structures on a list of 10. I love many different types of architecture, but the stonework on the Stock Exchange and the Library from your photos seems superb.

  7. I love the way you included the structures and then justified each point. Great writing! The Memorial at One World Trade Center will certainly join that list now, and I’m glad the timing of your visit allowed you to include it for future visitors.

  8. I saw every single one of these landmarks during my stay in New York in 2012 – Love them all, I think the Rockefeller Centre was definitely my favourite, followed by the Statue of Liberty

  9. For us, the State of Liberty was the most impressive to see… we’d seen it on tv so many times and now it was finally there! I once heard that Grand Central Station is one of the most visited sights in the world, however we didn’t think it was that special, there’s far nicer buildings in NYC. Would the Brooklyn Bridge count as a landmark?

  10. I’m hoping I get god weather and can go to the top of the rock or empire state building this visit! Last time I was there it was foggy and snowstorm. Cross you fingers for me! 🙂

  11. Great list! We went to NYC a few years ago, but it was at the end of a trip and for only 24 hours–not long enough at all. We did manage to hit up the Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and a few other things though, so it was a fun and busy day at least. I really want to visit the Statue of Liberty and the rest of the buildings on the list too!

  12. I agree with you Chris, the real challenge in this list is narrowing down to the top 10! You’d be able to do top 50 with no trouble! I have visited NY just once, 10 years ago, but I’m itching to go back. My favourite sight was the Chrysler and Grand Central Station, but I’d love to see the High Line now. So much to see and do!

  13. Awesome post, Chris. This post plus your last just has me itching to go to New York like you wouldn’t believe. I’d love to explore the library 🙂

  14. Love these iconic spots! I would say a must-see for anyone visiting NC for the first time. My fav has to be Rockefeller and I would highly encourage anyone to do Top of the Rock. Best views of the city from there. Better lines and views than from Empire State.


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