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Larissa Zimberoff-Untapped Cities

This week we profile Untapped Cities contributor, Larissa Zimberoff, who has written about NYC’s skeeball scene, gone urban exploring for remnants of underground rivers in Manhattan, explored Staten Island with the Guggenheim Museum and more.

What’s your “day job”?

I hope one day to solely be a writer but to help pay the bills I am an online marketing consultant, typically for start ups. I’m interested in helping any organization (restaurant, museum, non profit) get there message out to a wider audience. I am also a passionate cycling activist and food blogger.

What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?

I love to spy the Sackler Wing on my bike rides through Central Park. Situated on the far west side of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, it always sneaks up on me, and then there it is, a modern building framed entirely in glass. At that point I’ll know I’ve made it to 82nd Street. The Sackler Wing, designed by architects Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo, and Associates, and completed in 1978, houses a reflecting pool and sloping glass wall to surround the Temple of Dendur, a gift from the Egyptian government. The reflecting pool and glass wall are meant to evoke the original location of the temple on the Nile.

Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped:

When I took an assignment for Untapped, in the summer of 2012, it was for many firsts: first trip to Staten Island, first view of Manhattan from a ferry, and my first audio walking tour. The Guggenheim Stillspotting art installation, created by sound artist Justin Bennett and poet Matthea Harvey, blew me away, as did the scenic location of Staten Island, where you have such a unique sense for your place in the world.

What’s the most memorable thing that happened while at Untapped Cities?

I went on a tour of the underground rivers of Manhattan with Atlas Obscura. The 90-degree weather was a challenge even when you’re not walking miles to peer into manholes and take in the street levels and building angles. While on the tour we were often stopped by tourists wondering what we were looking at, including a memorable pair of Russians holding Century 21 bags and eating potato chips. As soon as they heard what we were doing they shrugged and walked away. They didn’t know what they were missing!

What’s the most surprising or valuable thing you learned at Untapped Cities?

Every Untapped excursion brings the city more to life. I’ve lived in New York for a little over two years, a short time to many, and I love surprising people with my knowledge of New York history. I owe that to writing for, and reading, Untapped Cities.

What’s your favorite Untapped place you’ve visited while traveling? Where do you want to visit next?

Last August I traveled to Japan to visit friends. On my first morning, in Tokyo we rode bicycles out to the Tsukiji Fish Market. We arrived too late to get tickets for the tuna auction so we ate sushi instead, at 5 a.m. One week later we went back, earlier this time, and I was able to witness the frigid garage terminal where dozens of men in down coats bid on frozen Bluefin tuna from fishing ships around the world. Up next: I’d like to do a cycle tour of Norway or Sweden.

What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?

Finally finding out why Houston Street is pronounced the way it is, in my most recent piece for Untapped Cities. Find out here.

Craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I moved across the country two years ago to attend graduate school, and start a new career. I am still surprised I did it, but I am thrilled with the results.

Best Celebrity Sighting:

Katie Couric in the bathroom at the Jean Georges restaurant on Columbus Circle. She was very nice and made great eye contact. Gabriel Byrne sitting across from me at the SoHo public library. Also, I love spotting chefs at the Wednesday Greenmarket picking out their weekly produce––they’re famous, at least to me.

What are some of your favorite websites?

The Paris Review blog, The Millions, Bowery Boogie, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and Food52.

2 Comments

  1. Now I want to travel again, this was such fun to read. It seems like you get to do fun things along with working on your essays and other stories. Keep ’em coming! Mom forwarded me this piece but I didn’t get a chance to read it until I managed some time at the computer. We’ve been in Pennsylvania visiting our daughter and the boys seem to hog the 3 computers in this one room. It’s SO cold here; the coldest Thanksgiving we’ve spent in a long time.
    I’m ready for Wednesday when it’s back to warm and sunny California. Unfortunately we didn’t get to NYC this time around, we had to spend a few days in Baltimore.
    Barb

  2. I was born in N.Y. and lived there for the first 52 year of my life. Life’s experiences took me to San Francisco where I am now settled with my family. I can’t believe how many interesting things to see I learned in this interview with Larissa. And this is a city I thought I knew so well. We visit often and can’t wait until our next trip to try them out.

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