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.

Salt Shed-Spring Street-Dattner Architects-NYC-2Photo via Dattner Architects, Spring Street salt shed under construction

We’ll admit, we’ve been obsessed with salt sheds for a while. It was only a matter of time before the functional structure was given the starchitect treatment. Rising on Spring Street along the West Side highway right now is the $10 $20 million Spring Street salt shed, to house 5,000 tons of salt (imported from Chile) for those messy, winter days in New York City. The design firm, Dattner Architects, is fresh off the opening of its most recent high-profile project: the new 7 line subway station at Hudson Yards.


Like Greenwich Village, Soho, and the East Village before it, Williamsburg is in that apocalyptic stage where New Yorkers begin to lament its loss of artsiness, grittiness, and awesomeness. As one of the most expensive neighborhood for rent in New York City, Williamsburg saw the inklings of this transformation already in the late 2000s, later highlighted by the closings of iconic DIY music venues like Monster Island, Glasslands, and Death by Audio in the post-2010 era. The neighborhood’s “lameness” was highlighted in pop culture last year in Broad City, in a scene where three preppy lookalike dudes on a yacht simultaneously exclaimed about their move from Murray Hill to Williamsburg.

But not all is lost, and one particular place is fighting back valiantly. The Spectacle Theater on South 3rd, located in a former bodega, came to life as the neighborhood was in full transition. They play $5 movies and the organization is a non-profit, collective run endeavor. If you’re looking for cutting edge, offbeat, unique films, this is the place to hang out at. Spectacle Theatre believes so much in remaining in Williamsburg that they just signed a 10-year, more pricey lease, and are now asking for help via Kickstarter.


Philip Ashforth Coppola-Silver Connections-Subway Art-NYC-6The 14th Street Subway Station showing eagles once thought to be lost, by Philip Ashforth Coppola

Calling to mind other obsessive documentary projects by New York area residents, New Jersey resident,Philip Ashforth Coppola, has been documenting the art inside the New York City subway system as illustrations since 1978. The New York Times reports that Coppola originally thought it would take just a few months but he’s still going, and doesn’t anticipate finishing until 2030 (when he’ll be about 82). He uses a ballpoint pen, nothing fancy, and writes out descriptions about each with typewriter.


Fans of OldNYC will be excited to see another historical photo mapping tool. The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation (GVSHP) has released its historic photo archive. Though it currently only has 300 images (vs. the 21,000 in OldNYC, the images here range from 19th century drawings to images of lost buildings, to places preserved thanks to the New York City Landmarks law, and more will be added. The photos reflect specifically “the history of the people and built environment of Greenwich Village and surrounding areas,” writes GVSHP.

We’ve embedded the map above (click on the icons to see the images), but you can also browse and search on the GVSHP website.


Hot Bread Kitchen-HBK Incubates-La Marqueta-NYCEDC-Untapped Cities-Behind the Scenes Tour-Harlem-NYC copy

The first stop on our Behind the Scenes NYC Tour of Harlem’s Incubators and Development Sites with NYCEDC last week was at Hot Bread Kitchen and HBK Incubates, located inside La Marqueta. When you think of workforce inequality, the artisanal food industry is probably not the first example that comes to mind. But Hot Bread Kitchen founder Jessamyn Rodriguez saw opportunity there for immigrant women to distinguish themselves, and started Hot Bread Kitchen first out of her own kitchen in 2009. The non-profit has grown to host not only the kitchen itself but HBK Incubates, which has been home to 45 start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs.


Rorschmap-James Birdle-Fun Maps-NYC-5Times Square

Fans of pschotherapy and urbanism maps, will get a trip out of this tool, as featured on 6sqft last week. With #Rorschmap, a project by James Birdle, you can enter any address in the world in the white box at the bottom of the page (though it defaults to London) and pull up that place rendered as a Rorschach test pattern.