Posts by michelle young:

Articles By: michelle young

Michelle is the founder of Untapped Cities. 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 an author of 100 Ways to Make History, published by the New York Public Library and is currently working on a book on the history of Broadway for Arcadia. 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. Follow her on Twitter @untappedmich.

Maya Lin-Eclipsed Time-Clock-Penn Station-Arts for Transit-NYC-001

Every month, we take two groups of intrepid readers to spend an afternoon tracking down the Remnants of Penn Station, of which there are numerous if you know where to look. As such, we see the small changes that take place over time in the much maligned station, as retail institutions like Penn Books close due to rising rents, as the strip of pizza joints, TGIF and Häagen-Dazs shut down as the operators of the station push for an upgrade of retail, to mirror Grand Central Terminal‘s shopping revolution. But of note recently is a non business-related change that has happened. A Maya Lin sculpture that even frequent visitors to Penn Station never notice has gotten an upgrade, and it’s an essential one.


Photo via National Lighthouse Museum

The National Lighthouse Museum, just a few minutes walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island will have its grand opening on August 7th, as recently reported by The New York Times. But what may be most fascinating to our readers, beyond the new museum, which had a soft launch last year and is already open to visitors is the history behind the site, a former quarantine station, and the abandoned buildings that can still be seen. In fact, the National Lighthouse Museum is the smallest building in the complex, in a foundry that once was part of the U.S. Light-House Establishment.


Weiner Rover-Weinermobile-Oscar Mayer-National Hot Dog Day-NYC

Yesterday was National Hot Dog Day and we randomly caught the unveiling of the latest Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, this one a miniature version of the large touring hot dog shaped vehicle. Spotted in Hudson River Park, the remote control “Weiner Rover” (with license plate WNR ROVR) was actually getting its own video shoot. The Weiner Rover opens up to reveal, you guessed it, hot dogs. There were even some slots for those necessary condiments, ketchup and mustard.


City Hall Subway Station-Before Opening-NYC 1904-2The original City Hall subway station in New York City

By reading first-hand accounts of opening day of the New York City subway, October 27, 1904, you get a picture of the excitement, madness, and sheer feat the construction of the underground system was. The first subway line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, ran from the glorious City Hall subway station (now decommissioned) to 145th Street, proclaiming “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes,” though as you’ll discover, even the first day wasn’t without delaeys.

Here are some of the fun facts that we found from reading reports from The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune about opening day:


Letter box at the St. Regis Hotel. Image via Art Deco Mailboxes

The book Art Deco Mailboxes by Karen Greene and Lynne Lavelle is a wonderful survey of the iconic mailboxes installed in American buildings in early 20th cenetury. Seeing just one still extant in a building today is a treat, but viewing them all together gives a sense of the range of styles and how they reflected, in detail, the architectural prowess of the skyscrapers within which they were situated. As the book shows, the Art Deco mailboxes (also known as letter boxes) of this time period were also in residential buildings, offices, hotels and more, and many, polished daily, are still in use.

Working with the publisher W.W. Norton, we are able to share with you this sample of 14 beautiful letter boxes in New York City from the book Art Deco Mailboxes. Although we have focused on New York City for this piece, the book includes mailboxes from all the major American cities during this era including Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.


Brookly Navy Yard Hospital Annex-Abandoned-Steiner Studios-Media Campus Expansion-NYC.06 PMThe Surgeon’s House in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital Annex

Most New Yorkers have been aware of the developments on-going on the Brooklyn Navy Yard, seeing it transform from active military property, to industrial park, to the diversified manufacturing hub it is today. In 2004, Steiner Studios opened as a major anchor tenant of the Navy Yard, with five soundstages and production facilities in a 310,000-square-foot facility. Starting in 2010, Steiner Studios began the process to nearly double its facility, which is at 580,000 square feet today with the addition of five new sound stages and an adaptive reuse of the former Navy Applied Science Laboratory.

In February 2015, a development plan for the third phase of expansion of Steiner Studios was adopted, with a plan to covert the abandoned Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital Annex into a media campus by 2027. With an estimated price tag of $137.1 million, the third phase would add another 420,000 square feet of floor area to the studio complex, already the largest outside of Hollywood. There will even be an underwater soundstage, the first of its kind in New York City. These photos of existing conditions are all from Final Environmental Impact Statement for the development project.