The 2016 Untapped Cities Holiday Gift Guide for Curated NYC Gifts

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This year, we’re very excited to announce the relaunch of the Untapped Cities Shop, a curated gift shop of New York products by artists, food purveyors, photographers, and writers we have featured on Untapped Cities like the photography books by James and Karla Murray (who also give our Food Tour of the Disappearing Storefronts of the East Village), Boundless Brooklyn’s DIY water towers, Bronx Hot Sauce, and more. We’re also very pleased to be able to offer gift cards for our Untapped Cities tours, a popular request from our readers.

Here are thirteen products that we think your friends, family and loved ones will love for the holidays. As a special for the season, we’re also offering a 15% discount on Untapped Cities tours with purchase from the gift shop and free shipping for orders $50 and up (and $5 flat shipping for anything below).

1. Secret New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants Guide

Secret New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants is written by Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young and Untapped Cities editor Laura Itzkowitz. In the book, you’ll find almost a hundred hidden places with entries that will surprise even in-the-know New Yorkers. This book is autographed by Michelle Young and can be custom dedicated to your giftee by adding a note to us in the check out process.

2. Boundless Brooklyn Water Tower Kit

For that water tower loving fiend in you, or your friend. The DIY Small and Medium Water Tower Model Kits by Boundless Brooklyn are made in the U.S.A. from chipboard — a 100% recycled material. The water towers can be left as it is or you can get artsy by customizing it with paints, markers and more.

3. Untapped Cities Tour Gift Card

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We’re excited to announce that due to popular demand, we now have capability to offer gift cards for our Untapped Cities tours. Available in any denomination or by tour, the gift cards can be applied to any of our tours including the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal, Underground Subway Tour, the Remnants of Penn Station, Food Tour of the Disappearing Storefronts of the East Village, Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam, VIP Tour of the Woolworth Building, Off-Limits at the New Yorker Hotel, the Remnants of Gritty Times Square, and tours we have yet to announce for 2017!

Also, we’ve added new dates for the subway tour and New Yorker Hotel tours in 2017 in case you missed out!

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4. Storefront II: A History Preserved – The Disappearing Face of New York

James and Karla Murray, award winning photographers and intrepid Untapped Cities tour guides, have been capturing impeccable photographs from the streets of New York City since the 1990s; Store Front II: A History Preserved – The Disappearing Face of New York chronicles their continued efforts to document a little-known but vitally important cross-section of New York’s Mom and Pop economy. The Murrays’ penetrating photographs are only half the story, though. In the course of their travels throughout the city’s boroughs the Murrays have taken great care to document the stories behind the scenery. From the Stonewall Inn to the Brownsville Bike Shop and The Pink Pussycat to Smith and Wolensky, the Murrays reveal how New York’s long-standing mom & pop businesses stand in sharp contrast to the city’s rapidly evolving corporate facade.

Also, take a tour of the Disappearing Storefronts of the East Village with James and Karla Murray on an Untapped Cities Food Tour.

5. Bronx Hot Sauce


The Bronx Hot Sauce captures the borough’s unique flavor with a recipe from acclaimed Bronx-educated Chef King Phojanakong. Born of a collaboration between Small Axe Peppers LLC and GrowNYC, The Bronx Hot Sauce is made with serrano peppers from Greenmarket farms and Bronx community gardens. Your purchase supports local low-income communities and local farms. See the harvesting in action at the New Roots Community Farm in the Bronx, where some of the workers include Syrian refugees, who have found a new home in the borough.

6. The Alphabet City Coasters

The Alphabet City’s coasters are made from vintage one-of-a-kind typography, pulled straight from the streets of NYC. Many of the images came from handmade signs and markings from now-demolished structures and are a unique archive of the City’s visual history. Discovered and curated for more than a decade by NYC photographer, author and educator Joanne Dugan, a portion of proceeds benefit literacy organizations. The coasters measure 4×4″ and contain a full set of 26 letters and 6 characters.

7. Secret New York: An Unusual Guide

Secret New York: An Unusual Guide is hands down our favorite guide to New York City, full of those Untapped gems. Discover secret gardens, decipher ancient riddles on tombstones, visit an Indian burial ground, harvest mastodon food in Central Park, enjoy the aroma of a roomful of dirt, find a Venetian palazzo above a former stable, spot the forbidden island that was once declared a sovereign nation by a guy in a rowboat, track down a townhouse concealing a subway tunnel, read a memorial plaque to an event that happened in another dimension, have your bicycle blessed in church and much much more.

8. New York Pizza Project


The New York Pizza Project is a coffee table book documenting the heart and soul of New York City’s last authentic pizzerias through photography and interviews taken over the last five years. The foreword is written by New York Times best-selling author, and native Brooklynite, Jonathan Lethem. The book, created and published by five 30-year-old native New Yorkers, is the first of its kind – focusing not on the pizza, but the people and places behind New York City’s favorite food. Over the past five years, the book’s creators have visited over 100 pizzerias across the five boroughs-taking photographs and capturing the stories of customers, employees, and owners.

9. A History of Broadway in Photographs


Broadway is written by Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young, using photographs from the Library of Congress, New York Public Library and private collections.This book can be autographed and dedicated to the giftee, by adding a note to us in the check out.

From its origins as a Native American trail to its iconic status in global culture today, Broadway tells the story of New York as it grew from a Dutch colony into a world-class city. Broadway has been the site of many firsts and many superlatives: the first subway line in the city, the tallest buildings, and one of the longest streets in the world.

10. Bushwick Kitchen Trees Knees Maple Syrup


Maple syrup is an environmental product, pulling from the soil, water, and air surrounding each tree. Trees Knees Organic Maple, made by Bushwick Kitchen, comes from a superior mix of elements in the Catskill Mountains to produce an especially rich, flavorful syrup with notes of dark chocolate and coffee. Best stack of pancakes ever? We think so.

11. New York Nights

In New York Nights, photographers James and Karla Murray take us on a new photographic journey: the city’s nightlife now and through the years. This stunning body of work portrays a Gotham at play in a mythical realm of nocturnal pursuits. The Murrays have taken vivid photographs of an outstanding selection of bars & pubs, restaurants and cafes, music venues, and shops, all with historical significance and enduring after-dark aesthetics. Turning the pages of New York Nights, one can easily imagine tripping the light fantastic: perhaps starting with drinks at the KGB Bar or a walk through the East Village – window shopping at Trash and Vaudeville, moving on to an engagement at Radio City Music Hall or the Village Vanguard, followed maybe by an early morning bite at the Yaffa Cafe. Stories of a bygone New York are brought to life by words from the proprietors and employees who experienced them.

12. Secret New York: Curious Activities

In Secret New York: Curious Activities, learn how to shoot a rifle off Fifth Avenue, track the path of an underground river that flows beneath Washington Square, take a trip within yourself in a sensory deprivation chamber, learn to spot fossils in the walls of buildings or collect your own on city beaches, observe bats on the hunt during a night walk, listen to a Stradivarius in a tiny concert hall created by an obsessed luthier, explore forbidden islands in a kayak, prepare for the end of the world at a survival class in Central Park, speed through the bay on the rail of a racing sailboat, climb giant trees in a botanic garden, go on the beat with a pair of NYPD cops, take a puppet-making class from an expert, watch feeding whales lunge from the deep.

A continuation of adventures begun in Secret New York: an Unusual Guide, author T.M. Rives shows you that the town that has everything has more than you ever imagined.

13. Broken Windows-Graffiti New York


Broken Windows – Graffiti NYC by photographers James and Karla Murray documents the flowering of the graffiti movement of the post-train era, and this newly revised 2010 edition has been completely redesigned with 70 more pages and many new photographs.

In the 1980’s, graffiti was pushed out of the subways as the trains were cleaned once and for all. In the 1990’s, much of the graffiti action in New York migrated to the city’s walls, enabling the ‘writers’ to execute more refined and concept-driven large-scale pieces. By the end of decade, this new medium was being used to great effect.

James & Karla Murray took great pains to faithfully capture an unprecedented re-birth of the movement, documenting the most significant murals created between 1996 – 2001. Broken Windows contains insightful interviews, an extensive selection of women s’ graffiti, and features the work of more than 180 artists from The United States, Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Italy, and Norway.

14. The Wonder City Comic Books

Starting tomorrow, Untapped Cities will exclusively run a web comic called The Wonder City. Taken from a series of graphic novels written by Untapped’s columnist and tour guide Justin Rivers, and drawn by illustrator Courtney Zell, The Wonder City sets out to create a mythos for New York City that completely reimagines its near 500 year old history. The series follows Velma Graydon (pictured above as an older woman), an archivist at St. John the Divine by day and urban gumshoe by night who has devoted her entire life to solving one of New York’s most important historical mysteries (don’t worry you’ll find out what it is). To us, Velma represents the best of all New York characters wrapped up into one awesome librarian.

You can get the first two stories in comic book form through us.

The Wonder City Volume 1: The Great Whale of Coney Island takes place in July, 1942: While the world is at war, a great mystery buried in the heart of New York City is close to being solved. Velma Graydon, a gal Friday turned gumshoe, is hot on the trail of an important charm lost ages ago. Called the Parelzaad, it was crafted before the city’s founding and Velma is one of the few people who knows the incredible power it holds. After years of research she finds the charm in the possession of a working-class Brooklyn family. Just as it’s within her reach one summer day on Coney Island, the charm is suddenly lost again and this time without a trace. In it lies the fate of an entire city.

The Wonder City 2: The Tovernboak takes place in November, 1942: A few months after Lizzie’s tragic disappearance, Owen teams up with Velma Graydon to find his sister. First, Velma must secretly school him in the ways of the mysterious Light Keepers and their 400-year mission to guard New York City from its foretold destruction. Now the Tovernboak, a sprawling account of the city’s true history, is revealed to Owen against the Light Keepers’ wishes.

Next, check out our full list of Behind the Scenes Untapped Cities tours and gift cards for our Untapped Cities tours.

 Holiday Gift Guide, The Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce, Untapped Cities Shop

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