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All the leaves on our fair city’s trees have pretty much given up by now, having long since blown off and been trampled by a million pairs of winter boots stomping up the sidewalk. The only bright spots of greenery left now are from the Christmas tree vendors. Long lines of pine flank the sidewalk, which is a nice respite from the usual towering piles of trash and makes you feel like you’re walking into an actual winter wonderland instead of some kind of garbage hell world. In the absence of bright plants, the color palette of our city’s denizens tends to neutralize around this time as well. Suddenly everyone is in black and brown and grey, which makes me feel very at home. We are all cold and we are all dressed in black—ahh, kinship.

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You know how it goes. You see discarded furniture on the sidewalk, you poke around, maybe you take something. We know some guy that put up another family’s ’70s era photo album on his bedroom wall. But what if all that discarded stuff was transformed into an interior set, but on the street? “Set in the Street” by photographer Justin Bettman and stylist Gozde Eker have done just that. They’re building elaborate sets out of unwanted furniture and other materials, photographing it and then leaving the sets up for people who walk by to enjoy. Using the hashtag #setinthestreet, it’s clear that people are just loving the random moment of serendipity.

The zoomed in/zoomed out photo series tells it all:

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At the beginning of December, 5 Pointz was basically gone, but the streets of New York City are stilled filled with art. Graffiti complaints are up throughout the city and for those of us who love hunting for street art, there has been no better time be a part of the art scene here. Over the summer, we listed the Top 10 Street Art Murals of The Year (So Far) and with the year coming to an end, we selected our 10 favorite pieces that made the streets of NYC that much more interesting.

10. Smart Crew, Snoeman & Elmo Chinatown: The Lower “Far East” Side

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Earlier this fall, New York City was (rightfully) up in arms about the shops putting up the “No Hoodies” signs, but we will venture to say that they were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DIY signage in this city telling residents what they can’t do. We’ve been slowly photographing this trend as we come across it. If you have more, send them our way via Twitter or Instagram #untappedcities. You’d think the above photograph comes from perhaps a neighborhood filled with crime, but actually it’s just next to Lincoln Center. Wok City Chinese takeout on Amsterdam Avenue is filled with even better gems like “We do not cut wings,” “Sorry no barbecue sauce,”  and “Seats for Employees Only.”

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One of New York City’s most unique pieces of property was Hess Triangle, only 500 square inches and the smallest plot of land at the time. Now marked by mosaic tiles on a piece of pavement on Christopher Street and 7th Avenue, it represents one man’s final stand against eminent domain: “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” While Hess Triangle was combined into the Village Cigars property, there are many awkwardly shaped lots on record today with the NYC Department of City Planning and Department of Finance. One final project at Columbia University GSAPP, led by Kohn Peterson Fox architect Lucien Wilson in the Parametric Site Analysis class, looked into these “untapped” plots of land as development opportunity.

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