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.

Jane Jacobs House-555 Hudson Street-Vitage Photograph-NYCJane Jacobs, husband and son in front of their home at 555 Hudson Street. Photo from Becoming Jane Jacobs

Here at Untapped Cities, the legacy of Jane Jacobs impacts our daily life – what we write, how we see the streets, how we hope our city will become. We were part of the small group that participated in the Rockefeller Foundation conference, Jane Jacobs Revisited at the Bellagio Center in Italy in in 2012. We’ve written about the impact of Robert Moses, often pitted as Jacobs’ nemesis, and we recently attended the premiere of the rock musical BLDZR about the two. We also took in a preview of the opera about Moses last fall.

On her 100th birthday, we look at the apartments Jane Jacobs herself lived in while she was a resident of New York City


Nikola Tesla Bust-Orthodox Serbian Church of St Sava-Fire-Manhattan-NYC-2Photo via NY Daily News

Yesterday, FDNY officials announced that some of the several hundred Easter candles may have caused the massive fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava (formerly Trinity Chapel) on 25th Street in Manhattan. On our end, we have been digging into the fate of a Nikola Tesla statue that sits in front of the church – prompted by a question from Untapped Cities reader Steven Romalewski, director of CUNY’s Mapping Service.


Smokers-Installation-Mark Reigelman-Steam System-Vents-NYC Streets-6Photo via Mark Reigelman

It’s clear from Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman’s website he has a sense of humor – his team photo is himself, cloned eight times. He has a sarcastic wit – shown in the number of times he references himself as awesome on his website (particularly on his about page). Reigelman’s latest project in New York City, Smökers, as seen on City Lab, places a white wooden cabin atop the steam that comes out of manholes, often channeled through those ubiquitous orange and white striped vents. With the cabins, the steam is redirected up a chimney.

In addition to highlighting the unique steam system of New York City, which both heats and cools much of Midtown Manhattan, Smökers meant to be subversive. But it’s also really adorable.


B-110 Bus Line Route-Hasidic Jewish Community-Private Transportation Company-Sex Segregation-Williamsburg-Sunset Park-Borough Park-NYC-3

Sure, the Chinese community in New York City has their dollar vans that run between neighborhoods like Chinatown, Sunset Park and Flushing. But the Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods take the ethnic-defined bus to a new level – the B-110 bus looks like a municipal bus (though the buses themselves come from the Fairfax Connector in Virginia) and operates under a franchise with the city.

The B-110 bus is operated by Private Transportation Corporation, which doesn’t take any subsidies from the city. The route goes from Williamsburg and Borough Park and by law, anyone can take it, but the buses are wrapped in Yiddish writing. It also costs more than an MTA fare at $3.25.


While most of us complain about the subway commute (too crowded, too slow, you name it), Thomas C. Knox, a business specialist at Apple, has been using it as an opportunity to meet new people and transform the otherwise “monotonous and inhospitable commute.” And, to get people off their smartphones and interacting with each other.

His project, Date While You Wait which began as a Kickstarter campaign, sounds romantic but is more about the serendipitous connections that can be made, just by changing the social architecture of the subway platform. Setting up a round table and two folding chairs on subway platforms all over New York City’ (even in some of the most crowded stations like Penn Station), people sit down to chat, play a game while they wait, even play some music.


Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava-Fire-Richard Silver-Photograph-25th Street-NYCPhotograph by Richard Silver

It was with heavy heart that we saw the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, formerly the Trinity Chapel, go up in flames yesterday. The church on 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue was part of the series of “Vertical Churches,” photographed by Richard Silver and we thought that this stunning photograph would be a way to commemorate the beauty of this church built by Trinity Church for the Episcopal community uptown.