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VivekShah-intern-NYC-Untapped-Cities

It really does only seem like yesterday that I touched down at JFK airport to begin my month-long adventure in New York City interning with Untapped Cities. Bearing in mind that this was my first trip to the Big Apple, I was filled with a combination of excitement (listing museums I couldn’t wait to set foot in) and trepidation (how would I ever navigate my way through the subway system snaking beneath the city!). New York has been on the top of my to-go list for longer than I can remember. It was time to fully throw myself into this most-happening-of-places.

Now with only matter of days before I head back to the somewhat colder climes of London and then St. Andrews, Scotland (of which I am a student at the University), its time to look back at the month. And what fun it has been! Through Michelle’s wealth of knowledge and researching for articles, I’ve discovered an abundance of unusual and “untapped” facts about the city. I now know that the shoe department at Saks’ Fifth Ave has its own ZIP Code of 10022-SHOE and that there is an unlikely similarity between Stuyvesant Street and the Islamic Cultural Centre; they both defy the 29 degree natural cant of Manhattan’s street-grid system.

When I return home, I also feel I can pass some noteworthy tips to friends and family. They can order a 1930s-inspired cocktail called a Juniper Julep from the NY Historical Society (but only until the beginning of September). Additionally if they find that the New York Stock Exchange is their calling, they’d get invited to join the exclusive Buttonwood Club after 25 years of loyal service.

But then it dawned on me…my love and discovery of the unconventional and arcane hadn’t left me with any time to do the typical touristy things of New York. While I had walked around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir in its entirety, I hadn’t even climbed up the “Rock” or taken a trip to the Statue of Liberty.

Frantically I checked my museum list. Brushing off the dust of disuse, I noticed that I could only tick off the Frick Collection and MoMA. The Guggenheim, the Whitney and much to my chagrin, the Met were left unchecked. Considering that I am a Classicist and a lover of antiquated things, this was nothing short of sacrilege.

A friend of mine came to visit over my last weekend in New York City. It was at this stage, I realised I had reached the low-point. I could, quite confidently, give her a walking arboreal tour of New York, pointing out the Hanging Elm in Washington Square Park and the Madison tree in Madison Square Park. However when walking past the Empire State Building, I recall the words I used were “that building looks rather familiar, I recall it from a poster…but what on earth is it?!” It didn’t get any better. When asked to identify the Flatiron Building, while at Madison Square Park, I pointed to a completely different building…on the other side of the Square. She must have left the city, bewildered and scratching her head.

I’ve had a fantastic time interning at Untapped Cities. I’ve gained a remarkable insight into New York, met some really wonderful people and under the patient guidance of Untapped Cities founder Michelle, had experience writing articles ready to be published! I will definitely be back for more…but with tomorrow being my last day, I think you’ll find me donning a Statue of Liberty crown on my head, munching away at a bagel and walking around the Met. How will I get there? The subway of course. Now that is something I did manage to conquer.

Find out more about Untapped Cities internships here.

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