Our community of contributors is the core of Untapped Cities. Globally, our 250+ person team of adventurous explorers, writers, storytellers, photographers and illustrators inspire us to keep discovering new places for our readers.
Jump to our contributors in: New York | Paris | Los Angeles | Global
Michelle Young, founder: Michelle can usually be found in New York (where she grew up), Paris, backpacking in South America or Southeast Asia, or in-transit between. She’s traveled to 40 countries, has an obsession with buses and shoots with a Nikon SLR camera. She is an author of 100 Ways to Make History, published by the New York Public Library. She holds a masters in urban planning from Columbia University, a B.A. from Harvard in the History of Art & Architecture, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music.
Laura Itzkowitz, managing editor: Laura was born and raised in the Boston area, but has always felt like a New Yorker at heart. She has a B.A. in French from Smith College, studied in Paris for a year, and lived in Rome for two years. She’s currently working on an MFA in creative writing and translation at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. In addition to her regular contributions to Untapped, Laura’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Culture-ist, Words Without Borders, and others.
Jakob Straub, global editor: An avid traveler, Jakob is based in Berlin, Germany, where he works as writer for bread, rent, and pleasure. When he’s not involved with various ambitious literary projects, taking part in poetry slams and readings, he enjoys rock climbing and cooking. He hasn’t yet sold his soul for a publishing deal, but his chance will come.
Benjamin Waldman, history editor: Benjamin is an attorney, tour guide, and freelance writer who has been living in New York City since college. An American History major, Benjamin is interested in all things New York and spends his free time wandering around the City. He works as a tour guide for the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy and has written articles for The New York Times, The Columbia Magazine, and Curbed.
Aby Thomas, arts editor: Aby Sam Thomas is a writer and a journalist living in New York City. He is originally from Kerala, India, but he was born and raised in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Before coming into the world of journalism, Aby worked as an analyst programmer at Accenture for four years, working out of offices in Mumbai, London and New York. An avid reader, a movie enthusiast and a fiction writer, he’s a typical Gemini who loves to dabble in a number of fields and ideas. He keeps a photo blog.
Kelli Trapnell, editor: Kelli is a writer living in NYC. Originally from Houston, TX, she’s currently working on her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Kelli considers herself an urban adventurer and a collector of weird and interesting stories. She’s an etymology nerd, a feminist, and a fan of surrealism. Cheeseburgers and chocolate are her favorite foods.
Alley Lyles, digital media strategist: Alley is an Austonian–a Houston and Austin hybrid. She now resides in New York City after traveling throughout Europe. Alley is a second year graduate student in Columbia University’s urban planning program. In the past, Alley worked at Socialmetrix and NYC Digital. She listens to jazz and big band in Brooklyn, and thinks the subway train is an awesome cheap rollercoaster.
Luke Kingma, Sunday in Chinatown columnist: By day, Luke Kingma, a University of Pittsburgh graduate and a copywriter for Vayner Media. By night and by weekend, Luke is a photographer, writer, traveler and professional beer glass stealer whose thirst for adventure, great stories and, of course, delicious beer, is never quenched.
Bernadette Moke, Downtown Doodler Columnist: Bernadette was born and raised in New Jersey, escaping to New York frequently. While attending New Jersey Institute of Technology, she finished three-tenths of an Architecture degree before completing a B.S. in Multimedia and Graphic Design. She is a professional napper, amateur photographer, crime show nut, book hoarder, mac & cheese connoisseur and is never far from a sharpie. You can find her work here.
Kit Mills, Art of Style Columnist: Kit is a graphic designer and a recent transplant to New York from some unspeakably boring place in the Midwest. Holds a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University (2011). Likes cooking, long solitary walks, Tom Waits, well-dressed humans, dirty martinis, cartography, and properly-kerned typography.
Kristen Gaylord, Transit Talk Columnist: Kristen is a California native, New York transplant, working on her PhD in art history at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, having earned her MA there and a BA in English literature and art history back in California. She is an editor ofContemporary Arts Consortium and currently working at The Museum of Modern Art. Kristen loves public transportation, and urban life in general, about which she sporadically tweets.
Jackie Spear, Columnist: Jackie is a recent New York City transplant. Having escaped from the San Francisco fog to continue her career in digital marketing — she is trying to keep up with the city that never sleeps. Holding degrees in Political Economy and French from U.C. Berkeley, she lived and worked in Paris right after graduation. With insatiable curiosity — she is very happily chronicling her adventures in pursuit of all things untapped New York.
Rachel Fawn Alban, NYC: Rachel is a New York based artist, and life long photographer. Inspired by by architecture, nature, flowers, the rhythm of the streets, and the changing moods that flow with the seasons, Rachel loves exploring this city, and even escaping it once in a while. In addition to working on personal art projects, Rachel practices Art Therapy and Art Education with various high-needs populations. Please visit www.RachelFawnAlban.com for more information.
Lauren Albrecht, NYC: Lauren is the co-founder of Art Nerd New York. Her past projects & campaigns have been featured in New York Magazine, The Village Voice, Cool Huntings, Artforum.com, Wired.com Blog, Bloomberg.com, Crain’s BtoB Magazine, Hubspot’s Blog, and The Washington Post. She completed graduate studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the Art Market: Principles and Practices program and has a B.A. from Canisius College in Communication Studies and Art History.
Rembert Browne, NYC: Rembert is a graduate student in urban planning at Columbia University, holds a B.A. from Dartmouth in Sociology, Geography & Public Policy and has a disgusting obsession with his home of Atlanta. He documents cities by way of a back-pocket moleskin notebook and an iPhone4 camera. He is a writer for Grantland and writes daily for his blog, 500 Days Asunder, where he attempts to actually write about everything.
Timothy Davidson, NYC: Tim graduated from The University of Albany with a bachelors degree in History. Since graduating he has conducted his own independent research on the history of The City of New York and its inhabitants primarily in the 19th century. Since moving to a town located on the Metro North RR line he spends a lot of his time, while not working, in Manhattan studying architecture and Instagramming historical NYC @newyorkcityhistory and interesting street scenes.
Danielle Dowler, NYC: Danielle is a native Northern Californian (San Francisco Bay Area), but New York City has her heart. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Urban Planning at Columbia, while exploring the extensive nightlife New York City has to offer. True to her Californian roots, Danielle enjoys anything involving sunshine, avocados, and large bodies of water, but isn’t completely sold on the beaches of NYC. She loves great wine, site plans, pocket parks and hidden alleyways. Follow her on Twitter @danielledowler.
Will Ellis, NYC: Will is a Brooklyn-based photographer, videographer, and educator, a San Antonio native and an NYU film school graduate, employed as the resident filmmaker at the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Over the past year, he’s photographed dozens of New York City’s most impressive abandoned structures and documented their histories on his blog, Abandoned NYC, which he’s currently adapting into a book.
Daniel Gallegos, NYC: Daniel is an artist and member of “Artpologist,” an artist collective that draws on anthropology to create socially engaged art projects. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he spent extended periods of time in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and New York City. An enthusiast of socialist urban planning, particularly as implemented in the Soviet Union, Daniel draws on its lessons for urban renewal in contemporary American cities.
Jane Hu, NYC: Jane likes live music and wandering around cities. She works at YouTube and has three somewhat redundant Stanford degrees. Advertising Age Magazine once named her one of their Women to Watch, but she’s pretty sure that title’s expired. She misses London, Disneyland, and the first time she saw The National.
Ben Huff, NYC: Ben is a graduate of Columbia University’s Urban Planning program. Ben’s interests include historical accuracy, post apocalyptic movies set in New York, sustainable candy, building surfboards, being a coffee snob, and occasionally writing about something interesting.
Kate Kelly, Paris/New York: Kate has been listening to Edith Piaf and championing nautical stripes since early childhood, and time has only refined her passion. Now armed with a degree in French Literature, Language and Culture from Syracuse University, she enjoys acquiring esoteric facts for Untapped and her own blog, www.fauxfrench.com. Don’t let this nerdy exterior fool you – she also enjoys a good dance party.
Matt Lambros, NYC: Matt is an architectural photographer who began photographing abandoned buildings ten years ago. A graduate of Boston University’s digital imaging and photojournalism programs, Matt has since been documenting the decay of America’s abandoned theatres in the hope of shedding light on these forgotten buildings and the efforts to re-purpose them. Matt’s work can be viewed online at www.afterthefinalcurtain.net and www.mlambrosphotography.com.
Lynn Lieberman, NYC: Lynn was born and raised in New York before venturing off to Los Angeles in the late 60′ws and 70′s and Coconut Grove Florida in the 90′s, until her full time return to New York in 2007. She resides in Harlem, working as an artist and selling her note cards, poster maps and original watercolors in many of the shops in both Greenwich Village and Harlem. You can follow her paintbrush on Facebook at Greenwich Village Sketches and Harlem Sketches or on her website www.afinelyne.com
Daniel London, NYC: Daniel is a freelance urban historian, independent architecture buff, professional raconteur, and sometime essayist – but above all, a lover of New York and big cities everywhere. He is currently involved in a few cool gigs – working for the Museum of the City of New York, serving as research coordinator for the nonprofit Civworld, and leading walking tours of New York City in between. He hails from Hoboken, N.J.
Sheila Marikar, NYC: Born in New Jersey, Sheila started exploring the city as a teenager, trolling ska/punk record stores and the then-exotic Urban Outfitters. After graduating from Cornell she settled in Manhattan and discovered that the city’s virtues extend beyond mass marketed pseudo hipster clothing. She’s an entertainment reporter for ABC News; her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, The Huffington Post and Mashable.
Alex McQuilkin, NYC: Alex grew up in suburban California and uber-urban Tokyo. He came to New York for school, and stayed for work (and some play). When not researching, writing, or daydreaming about cities, he enjoys improv cooking, getting lost on his bike, and consuming media in all its modern iterations.
Augustin Pasquet, NYC/Paris: Augustin is from Paris, has lived in Nigeria, Switzerland and Thailand and recently fell in love with New York City. He has a master degree in marketing from ESSCA Business School and spends his off-time traveling, taking pictures with a Nikon SLR camera or his rapidly increasing Lomo collection. He has traveled to 25 countries, including Cuba, Madagascar and Bolivia. He currently works for L’Oréal USA.
Suraj Patel, NYC: Suraj was raised in Middle America, so he still has a wide-eyed wonder for all things New York even after five years. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford and a J.D. from NYU School of Law. Instead of lawyering, he has a penchant for starting companies, working on political campaigns and traveling around the world juggling five projects at a time so he doesn’t get bored. Most prized possessions: his Passport and Twitter Feed.
Lisa Santoro, NYC: Lisa is a writer with a fondness for architecture and urbanism. She holds a Master of Science degree from Pratt Institute in Urban Planning with a concentration in Historic Preservation. Brooklyn born and raised, she is also an ardent scrapbooker, devoted NY sports fan and owner of a dear, yet precocious bunny. For as long as she can remember, she has been enamored with the history and secrets of NYC.
Trevor Shanklin, NYC: Trevor is a graduate of Columbia University’s Urban Planning program. He’s worked with many agencies New York City, and his interests revolve around urban housing. He holds a BS in Economics and Finance from California State University. An avid reader, his personal interests also involve traveling, biking, camping, rock climbing, and writing where he is a frequent writer for Untapped Cities.
Sharon Wong, NYC: Despite being born and bred in Malaysia, Sharon is told she speaks without an accent, which is a bit disappointing. She’s a bit of a nomad, having lived in Virginia, LA and now NYC where she is pursuing her Fiction Writing MFA at Columbia. She hopes to live in the UK next, where she just might start to sound British!
Kala Barba-Court, Paris: Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Kala is a Fine Arts graduate who moved to France in 2003. She has lived in Aix-en-Provence, Qatar, Rome, and Saudi Arabia, but always returns to Paris, her home base. She is a big fan of music, typography, Schiele, and robots. She maintains a website and a blog.
Anna Blair, Paris: Anna was born in New Zealand’s subtropical north, but is addicted to travelling and has lived in six cities and two towns. She studies History of Art and Architecture at Cambridge University and is researching her PhD on French travel in the 1920s. In her leisure time, Anna learns modern Icelandic and writes on her blog, Flappers with Suitcases.
David Cessac, Paris: David is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Paris. His drawings, characterized by fierce humor and expressiveness, have attracted various magazines, communication agencies and cultural organizations. His educational background combining Art and Political Science has given him perfect insight into human interactions. With pens, pencils, pastels and ink at his finger tips, Cessac weaves a universe of poetic and friendly characters and environments. In his column, A Few Parisians, David draws the quirky characters he comes across in Paris.
Sion Dayson, Paris: Sion Dayson is an American writer living in Paris. Her work has appeared in Utne Reader, The Wall Street Journal, Girls’ Guide to Paris, and the anthology Strangers in Paris, among other venues. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and is currently seeking publication of her first novel. She blogs about the City of Light’s quirkier side at paris (im)perfect. Her website is siondayson.com.
Jenna-Marie Warnecke, Paris: Jenna-Marie is freelance writer and founder of Paris Cheapskate. Whether you’re an expat, a travel dreamer or a visitor looking for cheap things to do, see and eat in Paris, she’s got you covered. She’s also a contributor to The Huffington Post, Billfold and several Paris websites.
Janine Marsh, France: Janine is a Londoner living in France. She is a freelance journalist and editor of free online magazine, The Good Life France. The publication which includes guides, information, news, views and more about France and all things French for visitors to and expats in France. Janine has a passion for photography and finding quirky and interesting people, buildings and traditions in France.
Samantha Schnell, Paris: Samantha is a first-year MFA candidate at the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. After attending Amherst College, she spent a year working with 6th graders at a charter school in the Boston area. Now, she has dreams of living and writing in New York and/or Paris, her two favorite cities in the world. In her free time, Samantha likes to read, travel, watch Downton Abbey and drink lots of coffee.
Tara Warbrick, Paris: Architecture graduate from New Zealand, currently on a bit of a career break in Paris. She enjoys cramming adventures into her days & French gastronomic delights into her stomach. As a token kiwi playing for a French touch rugby club, she endures heated discussions about the All Blacks and the most recent Rugby World Cup on a weekly basis.
Emily Baillie, Toronto: Emily is a writer and photographer based in Toronto, Canada. She was bitten by the travel bug after living in Ireland for a year and has since visited and photographed destinations around the globe, from Paris to Peru and Morocco to Miami. When she is not writing or taking photos she can be found at a local pub, planning her next trip, or some combination of both.
Josie Baum, London: Josie spends her days on Soho Square in London, working as a Strategist at the innovation agency Bow & Arrow. Without having to venture far from the workplace to find interesting characters, and phenomenal historical architecture, inspiration for Untapped is never too far away. Josie has a BA in Land Economy from Cambridge University and an MSc in Urban Planning and International Development from Columbia University.
Vanessa Chan, San Francisco: Born in Malaysia and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Vanessa lives in San Francisco and makes a yearly pilgrimage to visit her restaurateur family in Melbourne, Australia. Vanessa moonlights as a dancer, an off-key karaoke singer and a documentarian of provocative human exploits. On off nights, she can be found sipping a gin and tonic in a Tenderloin bar or curled up in bed with Somerset Maugham.
Samantha Choudhury, Melbourne: Samantha was born in London from Bangladeshi parents and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Sam has a BA in Urban Planning & Development and Masters in International Development from the University of Melbourne, and has also studied at Columbia University GSAPP. Sam has an avid passion for cities, cultures, trends, food and design and can be found wondering around laneways and nooks in various neighbourhoods or eating a big bowl of pho.
Eude de Montgolfier, Berlin: A born and raised Parisian, Eude lives in Berlin where he works as a communications consultant for a gallery. Addicted to rail science and Asian food, he loves to travel aimlessly on both old metro cars and state-of-the art high speed trains all over the world. He graduated a B.A. in History, then a master’s degree in International Relations at the Sorbonne University in Paris and worked previously in marketing for leading public transport companies.
William Feuerman, Sydney: Billy is a “New Yorker” via Los Angeles and San Francisco, who is currently living in Sydney, Australia. Billy has his own design practice, Office Feuerman, and is faculty at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He received a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelors of Architecture from the California College of the Arts. He has taught in architecture programs at Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania and Pratt Institute.
Hayley Flynn, Manchester: Hayley is the creator of Skyliner, a Manchester-born blog that is dedicated to the pursuit of rare and fascinating art, architecture and histories. A lover of opening closed doors, microfilm, and architectural drawings. She fled the confines of an office job to work in the arts and spend more time exploring the secrets of cities, Hayley is now a tour guide, location scout and researcher but above all things – a professional dilettante.
Matthew Parker, Marseille/London: A film maker from London, Matthew fled his rain-soaked city in 2012 in pursuit of Vitamin D and new adventure. Now in Marseille, he write The Man From Mars(eille) which documents the unique quality of the city through writing, photography and film.
Alice Perez, Portland (OR): Alice is not your typical California girl. She has an adventurous spirit, enjoys exploring new place and ideas and knows there is always something more to discover. She attends Portland State University, studying Communications and Writing. On her down time, she enjoys going on long runs among the tall Douglas fir trees of Portland.
Léa Plourde-Archer, Montreal: Léa was born in a small town but always dreamed of becoming a city girl. She moved to Montreal 5 years ago to pursue a degree in Communications and Art History at UQAM and never looked back. Her passion for travel has taken her to 11 countries so far, which is too little in her opinion. When her bank account doesn’t let her go very far, she’s just as happy exploring her city and its endless supply new things to discover. She blogs at www.astorytellinghome.com.
Jenn Yoo, San Francisco: Even after living in New York and London, Jenn would find big cities daunting if there weren’t so many nooks and crannies to explore and make her own. She’s new to SF, but soon enough she’ll be able to recommend where & what to eat by category, cuisine, neighbourhood, price range–without consulting Yelp. She blogs, she tweets, she misses London.
Charlotte Vallance, London/Amsterdam/(Art)chitecture columnist: Charlotte is an illustrator and printmaker, sometimes at the same time, sometimes separately! She loves travelling, bunting and elevenses. She spends one weekend a month in Amsterdam and is always interested to try new things and meet new people. She find buildings fascinating and captures them for her blog.
Heinz von Eckartsberg, Melbourne: Heinz grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and has a master’s degree in urban design from Columbia University. He previously worked with the New York Department of City Planning Brooklyn Office and the Urban Design Lab at Columbia University. A fast walker, he has travelled extensively, from the megablocks of China to a tiny village in Ghana.
Tracy Zhang, Toronto/Global: Tracy is a Canadian travel photographer currently based in Toronto Canada. She specializes in capturing the natural beauty and cultural essence of a destination. She has travelled to 30 countries, been an expat two times, and once hitchhiked across international borders. Read her travel blog: www.justintimetravels.com.
Christina Chou, writer/photographer: Christina is a Chicago transplant residing in LA; she doesn’t elongate her vowels. She’s worked in talent management, various embassies, on international film/concert tours, and recently documented tsunami relief work in Japan. Her dual B.A. in Economics/Political Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign just assures she’s literate. She enjoys her Canon DSLR, obscure items on menus, and damn good coffee.
Devin McCutchen, Los Angeles: Devin was raised on the edge of suburbia in the rural hinterlands of the Bay Area. While at UC Berkeley he took up studying San Francisco history and playing the banjo, thus sabotaging all conversational competency with people younger than 140. These days he finds himself in begrudging exile from The City, commuting through orange groves and sprawl en route to UCLA, where he’s a MA/PhD student of California history.
Ricky Qi, photographer: Born in the Spring City of Kunming in Yunnan Province, Ricky moved to the U.S. at the age of two. After graduating with a B.A. in International Studies from UCSD, Ricky moved to China for a year where he documented the Shanghai jazz revival, started a commercial photo studio and subsisted off a combination of good will, street food and on occasion, his photo work. You can find his latest projects here and here.
Chris Torres, writer: Chris is a native Angelino obsessed with cities, green tea, and music. After traveling and studying in New York, Paris, Brisbane and Berkeley he now practices as a landscape architect and urban designer in Los Angeles. He can found swimming at the beach, playing music and exploring the hidden treasures of LA with his two pups. Chris was a founding creative director of GROUND UP, the journal of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley.
Lynnette Woo, Los Angeles: Lynnette is an Orange County native with an affinity for vibrant big cities like London and Hong Kong, despite being a self-proclaimed “California girl.” She graduated with a B.A. in English (writing emphasis) and a minor in business from Biola University. She survives on English breakfast tea and rose milk tea to fuel her writing, and enjoys experiencing cafes anywhere in the world she may venture to. She permanently craves Penang cuisine.
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