The Harlem Corn Exchange Building circa 1890. Source: New York Historical Society

We’ve been closely following the restoration of the historic Corn Exchange Bank Building in Harlem since the restoration project began last year. Located next to the 125th Street Metro North Station, this landmarked building from 1884 had initially succumbed to a fire that destroyed the two-story mansard roof. An additional four floors were demolished in 2009, after the city deemed the structure unsafe, leaving only a two-story shell facade. Now back to life after a $17 million dollar renovation, the Corn Exchange Building will be a stop on our October Behind the Scenes NYC Tour of Harlem, with access inside and on the roof. In this article, we’ll show in photos the building over the last century plus, including the phases of restoration, and a sneak peek of the interior.

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New York City has a handful of observation decks, and a plethora of rooftop bars, but many New Yorkers are unfamiliar with the handful of buildings and structures that can be climbed to experience unique views of the City. These historic vantage points have become fewer and fewer as security and privatization have trumped public access. Despite their limited access, sometimes only once a year at most, it is well worth planning ahead to take in these historic vistas.


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There may be no other subway station more contentious among subway buffs than the 76th Street subway station in Queens, an IND station on the A line near Ozone Park, Queens that the The New York Times calls the “Roswell” of the New York City subway system. Its existence is hotly debated but urban explorer Dark Cyanide has gotten closer than most and shared the photos of his exploration.


Canoe-view of North Brother Island

This past Saturday, Urban Park Rangers from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation led a group of New Yorkers on an Advanced Canoe trip in the waters around Randall’s Island with a surprise visit onto abandoned North Brother Island.


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In 2009, we remember late professor Mojdeh Baratloo sharing about her work mapping solar potential of rooftops in New York City. The work was conceptual then and open-source data was in the early stages. But last week, Mapdwell, a collective of academics and researchers from M.I.T., launched the site Solar System, which maps solar rooftop potential in eight American cities, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, as well as two cities in Chile. The interactive map allows you to select specific buildings and will calculate the cost of installing a solar system (including tax credits), the number of years it will take to pay back the investment, the revenue per year, and the carbon offset.


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Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Photo by Bobby Das via Flickr

It’s day one of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. For urban explorers, the park has long held a special lore, with its layered history and abandoned structures. As you’ll see in this collection of secrets, its past and proposed future continue to reflect the push and pull of New York City development and most spectacularly its hidden spots may reveal themselves in centuries to come, or never again.