This week we profile Untapped Cities contributor Tom Hynes who writes a column on animal-related New York City history from uncovering the legend of the sewer alligator, to oyster history, and the parrots of Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
Taking boats in and around New York City is definitely an under-tapped New York City experience. The East River Ferry is the best kept secret in the city. It’s a great way to gain a new vantage point of the City, and it’s way more relaxing than almost any other form of transportation.
Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped Cities:
The Monk Parrots of Green-Wood Cemetery. It really opened up my eyes to New York City’s wild side. And getting to know parrot safari guide, Steve Baldwin, was a real pleasure.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened while writing for Untapped Cities?
The Travel Channel asked me to appear on their show Mysteries at the Museum to talk about alligators in the sewer, which incidentally was the subject of my first piece on Untapped Cities.
What’s the most surprising and/or valuable thing you’ve learned while at Untapped Cities?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned is the breadth of New York City wildlife. Understandably, a lot of people think that rats, pigeons, and bedbugs are the only animals in New York City. But there are really so many more critters out there roaming around the five boroughs.
What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?
I think people generally forget how important New York City is to American history. It’s almost as old as Plymouth or Jamestown, in terms of initial European settlements in North America. Those other places became theme parks so everyone knows they’re historically important. But because New York never stopped growing and changing, people don’t always give it its due credit, historically speaking.
What’s your favorite Untapped place you’ve visited while traveling?
In San Francisco, I really love the golden fire hydrant, the herd of bison, and the graffiti murals of Clarion Alley. In DC, the fountains – and Sunday night drum circles – of Malcolm X Park are pretty great. I also think the subways of Los Angeles are greatly under-tapped.
Where do you want to visit next?
My wife and I are traveling to Turkey this summer. State-side, I’d love to get know more about the deep south.
Craziest thing you’ve ever done? It wasn’t crazy, but proposing to my wife on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, while we were serenaded by an accordionist I hired, has to be pretty far up there on the wildest things I’ve ever done. It’s definitely the smartest thing I’ve ever done.
Best Celebrity Sighting:
I once was on a bachelor party in Las Vegas (terrible town) where we found ourselves at a late night celebrity hotel room party with Snoop Dogg, Demi Moore, and many more famo’s in attendance. I had absolutely no business being there so I went out for air on the balcony to get over being so starstruck. Moments later, a woman approached, threw her arms around me, and said, “I am so glad you’re finally here!” The woman was Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punky Brewster, and I was not the person she was looking for.
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