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At Untapped Cities, we have a “Daily What?!” series, which consists of one surprising thing every weekday. The column keeps us on our toes at all times looking for quirky New York City stuff. We’ll admit that on some days, we’re stumped, but that rarely happens. To catch you up, here are the Top 10 Daily What?!s of 2014 on Untapped Cities:

25. The Secret Entrance to the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square Subway

A defunct doorway in the Times Square subway that once led to a hotel so popular it was nicknamed “The 42nd Street Club.” Read more here.

24. The Clandestine Naval Battle of Mau Mau Island in Brooklyn

untapped-cities-mau-mau-island-naval-battle-4
The marshy expanses of Mau Mau. Source: Flickr Creative Commons, GerritsenBeach.net

Mau Mau Island is man made, but a small artists’ collective known as Swimming Cities  has hosted an epic naval battle for the island. Read more here.

23. Head to Koronet’s for the Largest Slice of Pizza in NYC

koronets pizza-morningside heights-columbia university-nyc-untapped cities-002Photo by Adam Kuban/Serious Eats.

Slices at Koronet Pizza are larger than your head. Their crown jewel is the Jumbo slice–from a 32″ pizza–that’ll only set you back about $4. Read more here.

22. There’s a Hindu Ganesh Temple in the Heart of Soho, NYC

For those on the search for this Hindu temple, you’ll have to spot a “blue door” at the corner of Crosby and Broome Street and head up to the second floor. Read more.

21. The Gold Penis on Fernando Botero’s “Adam” Sculpture in NYC’s Time Warner Building

Adam sculpture Fernando Botero Time Warner Center NYC Untapped Cities

At the Time Warner Center, so many people touch Fernando Botero’s Adam sculpture’s small but prominent penis that it has been worn to a golden shine. Read more here.

20. NYC Bus Driver Steals Own Bus, Drives to Florida in 1947

Bus-NYC-Untapped Cities-NYC History.jpg Photo by MISTERLINSKY  Photobucket - Google Chrome 11122014 34911 PM(Mister Linksy via Photobucket)

In 1947, a man decided to take the bus he was driving to Florida…and didn’t get fired. Read more here.

19. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Gold Vault

1-Federal-Reserve-gold-new york-untapped cities-wesley yiinSource: Open Currency

Did you know that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a gold vault containing the world’s largest known depository of gold? The approximately 530,000 gold bars weigh 6,700 tons. Read more here.

18. Sculpted Rats on the Graybar Building at Grand Central

The next time you pass by the Graybar Building at Grand Central Terminal, be sure to look up. Three sculpted rats are depicted as if they are climbing the anchor ropes on a ship, a quirky reference to New York’s maritime roots. Read more here.

17. There Is An Underground Network of Tunnels at Columbia University

columbia university-underground tunnels-morningside-nyc-untapped citiesImage via Columbia Spectator.

What is now possibly the worst kept secret at Columbia’s Morningside campus, an intricate network of tunnels connects many of the school’s buildings. These tunnels date back to 1900 when the campus was home to another institution: Bloomingdale’s Insane Asylum. Read more here.

16. The Gold ATM on 57th Street

Gold ATM_Gold to Go_Midtown_New York City_57th Street

On 57th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue, across from the Parker Meridien Hotel, is this Gold ATM. That’s right, a machine that dispenses gold. Find out more here.

15. What Are Those Numbers Counting in Union Square?

Union Square-Metronome-The Passage-NYC-NumbersMetronome and The Passage in Union Square, image via Flickr by Flick’ed

It’s been a centerpiece in Union Square now for 15 years, but it still bewilders many a passerby. No, these numbers don’t count the national debt or the acres of rain forest being destroyed. Find out what it is here.

14. The Hidden Rooftop Gardens of Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center-Roof Garden-620 Loft-Tishman Speyer-5th Avenue-NYC-005Image via 620 Loft and Gallery

When dodging people on Fifth Avenue and at Rockefeller Center, you probably don’t have time to look up and ponder what secrets may lie in the tourist trap. But atop the Art Deco infused Rockefeller Center are some great garden rooftops. Find out more here.

13. The Bronx’s Best Pizza Place Is Hidden Behind a Gas Station

Pugsleys Pizza-Pizza-Bronx-Untapped Cities-Christopher Inoa-Food-NYC-001Pugsley’s Pizza (Flickr photo via Jeffrey Tastes)

Pugsley’s Pizza has been located behind Fordham Road in the Bronx for almost 30 years and is a true mom and pop pizzeria. As it’s hidden by a gas station, many people walk right by without ever realizing it. Read more here.

12. One Times Square Is The Emptiest Building in Midtown But Wildly Profitable

When Lehman Brothers purchased One Times Square in 1995, they envisioned a new kind of tenant: advertisers. Instead of renting the offices inside the 25 floor building, they began retrofitting the facade with billboards. By 1997, the profits were up 400%, and the inside was empty. Read more about this and where the New Year’s Eve ball is stored here.

11. South Street Seaport Mall at Pier 17 Demolition Fully Underway

In April 2014, the demolition of the mall at Pier 17 at South Street Seaport was fully underway. See more photos here.

Read on for the Top 10 Daily What?! Articles of 2014

1 Comment

  1. Ron says:

    Great List, Mich!

    I love this story of NO. 1- the door to the Old King Cole was a merry old sole.
    For some strange subway construction, the door was covered by a plywood passage-way alley for years. Glad to see it is now open.
    Any idea what they did during those years of construction there?

    See a great story of BOLD-faced names, it’s history and 2007 restoration.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/nyregion/17painting.html?_r=0
    The painting was commissioned for John Jacob Astor IV as an adornment for the hotel he financed, the Knickerbocker, at the southeast corner of Broadway and 42nd Street.

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