Today, we profile Untapped Cities intern Vera Penavic. A devoted museum goer and archaeology nerd, she loved learning about the New York’s past and the present-day experiences the it has to offer.
New York has been my home for the past three years, so I’d consider it my city. My favorite Untapped part is the American Museum of Natural History. They’ve got some of the most impressive exhibits in the world in there, ranging from the Hall of Human Origins to the Hayden Planetarium. Not to mention that it’s right next to Central Park (my second favorite part of the city).
10 Pranks, Hoaxes, Fake Buildings, and Historically Inaccurate Objects of NYC was the most fun to write because I laughed the whole time I was doing research. You wouldn’t believe some of the things people have tried to pull in this city.
All the posts I wrote that involved going out into the city were memorable, but one of the best was going to DUMBO Boulders in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I love bouldering so to get the chance to climb and write was pretty great.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned while at Untapped is not to short change New York, or any city for that matter. It taught me a new way to look at cities, to ask questions about even the simplest things like subway tiles. But with New York in particular, it taught me that there’s always something happening, you just have to go out and find it.
Last summer I had the opportunity to spend a month camping in South Central Alaska near Denali National Park and that was seriously beautiful. The Alaskan wilderness looks even more spectacular in person than in postcards or any National Geographic photo.
My favorite obscure fact is that John Pintard, the Founder of the New-York Historical Society helped establish the American image we have Santa Claus. Basically, that the Santa Claus we’ve come to know as the fat, jolly, cookie-eating, chimney-shimmier today was made in New York.
A few years ago I was in Namibia with my family, and we went to this area in the south of the Namib Desert called Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by these gigantic red dunes. We hiked to the top one of the larger ones, and after an hour and a change of climbing a small sand mountain, we had a spectacular view of the dunes and the desert. You could see forever. The craziest part was coming down. Instead of climbing down the roundabout way we came up, we ran straight down the sand dune. There was a lot of tripping and racing and rolling involved with sand getting everywhere. I’m sure the crazier thing to do would have been to sandboard down, but we didn’t have anything to try it with.
As an NYU student, it’s almost a right of passage to see Alec Baldwin walking his dog down the street in Greenwich Village. Alas, I have not been so lucky. I’ve been living in New York for three years and have had a grand total of one celebrity sighting: Peter Dinklage. As a huge Game of Thrones fan, I’m ok with this being the only celebrity sighting I’ve had.