The secret rooms inside America's most popular attractions

Jake Baker  ·  June 17, 2016  ·  Travel

By: Gavin Haines

1. The Rushmore cave

As well as vowing to etch the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln into the side of a South Dakota mountain (which some might say is ambitious enough), the sculptor behind the iconic Mount Rushmore National Monument, Gutzon Borglum, also had designs on carving illustrations of the most significant events in American history into the rock.

That proved an etch too far for Borglum, so instead he decided to excavate a cavity into the granite, behind Abraham Lincoln's head, in which to store tablets chronicling the history of America. However, park authorities deem the unfinished cave too dangerous for tourists to visit, so it remains off limits.

2. The Statue of Liberty torch

Many tourists view New York from the crown of the Statue of Liberty, but there are better views from an observatory inside the torch, which is held high above the good lady's head. So why can't visitors access it?

Well, the torch has been off-limits since 1916, when German spies blew up a nearby munitions depot, which had been supplying the allies with weapons during WWI. The explosion, which had the force of an earthquake, caused significant damage to the torch. That damage has since been repaired, but the torch remains closed.

3. The Empire State Building's decommissioned observation deck

Think you've been to the top of the Empire State Building? Then think again because there's a secret, off-limits observatory at the 103rd floor that few people get to step foot on. The so-called "secret floor" is not for the faint-hearted with just a waist-high ledge separating voyeurs from a very long drop.

The 103rd floor is located beneath a 200ft steel spike that crowns the Empire State Building and was originally conceived as a mooring mast for airships, which were thought to be the future of air travel in the Thirties, when the skyscraper was built.

4. Disney World's abandoned island

Disney World purports to be the "happiest place on Earth", but an abandoned island within the theme park complex hints at a darker past. Opened as Treasure Island in 1974, before changing its name to Discovery Island, this Disney outpost was pirate themed and offered visitors the chance to view exotic wildlife.

However, according to state prosecutors, the wildlife was mistreated by Disney employees: a 1989 investigation accused staff of firing rifles at hawks, beating vultures to death and destroying the nests and eggs of ibises and egrets. Disney agreed to pay $95,000 to drop the case, the Orlando Sentinel reported, before closing the island in 1999.

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5. The Waldorf Astoria's secret subterranean station

It's one of the most iconic hotels in New York, but hiding beneath the Waldorf Astoria sits an abandoned train station known as Track 61. The city has numerous ghost stations beneath its bustling streets, but rumour has it this one is still used to whisk away high-profile heads of state and celebrities when they're in town. This, however, can't be confirmed owing to security concerns.

Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/north-america/united-states/artic...

America, Travel, Mt Rushmore, Disney World Island, Statue of Liberty Torch, Travel , Empire State Building, Waldorf Astoria

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