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.
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 Canon SLR camera. She is the author of Broadway from Arcadia Publishing, 100 Ways to Make History, published by the New York Public Library and a forthcoming guidebook to the hidden bars and restaurants of NYC. She holds a masters in urban planning from Columbia University, where she is an adjunct professor, a B.A. from Harvard in the History of Art & Architecture, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music.
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.
Samantha Sokol, NYC editor: Samantha is never sure if she should tell people that her name is “Sam” or “Samantha,” but if there’s one thing for certain, she loves Untapped. After interning and freelance-ing, Samantha is currently an editor at Untapped Cities. She has served as Deputy Editor of Spectrum, the blog of the Columbia Daily Spectator, and is currently studying History at Barnard College. She also likes to talk about her radio show, The Cheese Log, and she actually wrote “On this Day in NYC History” every day for two months.
Laura Itzkowitz, contributing editor: Laura is a writer, editor and translator based in Brooklyn. She has an MFA in creative writing and translation from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, a BA in French from Smith College, studied in Paris for a year, and lived in Rome for two years. In addition to her regular contributions to Untapped, Laura’s writing has been published on Fodor’s Travel, Mic, Architizer, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Culture-ist, Words Without Borders, and others. She has been featured as a New York City expert blogger on Time Out New York and named one of Hotel Club’s Top 20 NYC bloggers. She works in the research department at Travel + Leisure.
Janos Marton, Today in NYC columnist: Janos Marton is a lawyer, writer, and born & raised New Yorker. Janos grew up on the Upper West Side before attending Dartmouth College, where he served two terms as Student Body President. After college Janos worked on political campaigns and Hurricane Katrina recovery before returning to New York for law school. As an attorney he has worked on a variety of issues, including campaign finance reform and civil rights, and served as a special counsel to the Moreland Commission. Since the beginning of 2015, when he launched Janos.nyc, Janos has been focused on writing about New York City history. His writing as appeared in Salon, Gotham Gazette and City & State. He has been a contributor to Untapped Cities since 2010.
Christopher Inoa, Street Art & Film Columnist, NYC: Christopher is probably watching a film as you read this. Chris is a graduate of Brooklyn College where he studied film and is currentlyint he CUNY masters progrma for Journalism. Christopher’s immense knowledge of pop culture would make you initially believe he has no social life but he’s out frequently documenting and photographing the NYC street art scene. Born and raised in NYC, Christopher is truly an “all-city” photographer, traveling to all boroughs to capture the unique art around NYC.
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.
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.
Anna Brown, NYC: Anna is passionate about cities and the opportunities that they offer. She has lived and worked in Buenos Aires, Valparaíso, and Cape Town, researching graffiti and its potential for community regeneration. She likes to write about community-driven interventions that make cities better places to live.
Marta Elliot, NYC: Marta is a student at New York University studying Urban Design and Architecture. She grew up across several different cities and continents, but New York City is her ever-dynamic playground for exploration. Curious about everything, she loves traveling, reading, walking, biking, and kooky people.
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.
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.
Luke Kingma, NYC/LA: 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.
Cat Ku, NYC/SF: Catherine graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where she is majored in English with a certificate in American Studies. She has served as an editor for Untapped Cities and wrote the History of Streets column. She loves reading, writing, running, and baking. Her favorite cities include London, New York, and San Francisco, where she currently lives and works.
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
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.
Zoe Mendelson, NYC: Zoe is a 5th-generation Chicago native currently living in Brooklyn. She loves Chicago and New York (not equally) and thinking about and walking around cities in general. She received her B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is an editor at foodpolitic.com and a mushroom salesman at many NYC Greenmarkets.
Bhushan Mondkar, NYC: Bhushan is an Architect and Urban Designer on weekdays and an avid shutterbug 24 x 7, capturing the vibrant motion and untapped tranquility of urban jungles. He was born and raised in Pune, India where he studied Architecture, designed a radio station, worked in the Indian Film and Television Industry as an assistant director/ editor, designed sets for a short film and also directed a documentary series of 10 episodes. He moved to New York in 2008 to rediscover his love for Architecture and has since worked on projects across nine countries including a few in New York City. Check out his iphoneography at i-newyorkcity.com
Catherine Mondkar, NYC: Catherine was born and raised in New York City. Her interests in ecology and art led her to pursue landscape architecture; she takes any opportunity to explore the great outdoors and much of her past work in ecological restoration gave her the opportunity to see much of NYC’s untapped and Forever Wild parkland. Writing poetry is one of her greatest artistic outlets as well as singing. Catherine holds a Masters degree in landscape architecture and a B.A. in art history.
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.
Boo Paterson, NYC: Boo Paterson is an international newspaper journalist, artist and ex-music manager. She also used to work undercover for a professional gambler before running away to New York to try to break one of her singers there. Boo’s interest in culture is fostered by her own life-long participation in the arts scene, as a cabaret and burlesque producer, circus ringmaster, and paper-cut artist.
Nick Reale, NYC: Wearing many hats (photographer, writer, designer) and sometimes a helmet (bike tour guide), Nick unifies various backgrounds under the veil of urbanism. His interests range from studying maps until he becomes near-sighted to spelunking in abandoned buildings until his eyes become sensitive to light. He has pretty bad eyesight, but somehow fancies himself a visual storyteller.
Nasha Virata, NYC: Born and raised in Manila, Nasha has also spent time in Ascot and California before settling in New York. She is a graduate of Stanford University, with a B.A. in History and draws heavily on this degree with her work in industries such as financial services, microfinance and data analytics for e-commerce companies. Nasha spends much of her free time walking around the city, consequently developing an interest in urban design, preservation and development for New York, as well as cities in the developing world. She is a docent for the Municipal Art Society Grand Central Terminal tours. Despite being fairly literate, she remains incredibly untalented at writing her own bio.
Julia Vitullo-Martin, NYC: Julia Vitullo-Martin is a Senior Fellow at the Regional Plan Association and Director of the Center for Urban Innovation. Her work focuses on development issues such as planning and zoning, architecture and housing, waterfront regs, environmental review, building and fire codes, and historic preservation. She has been widely published in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Review of Books, New York Post, New York Daily News, Monocle, Forbes, and Fortune, as well as academic journals. She has authored and edited three books, including Breaking Away: The Future of Cities.