Articles by

michelle young

Michelle is the founder of Untapped Cities. She can usually be found in New York (where she grew up), Paris, backpacking in South America or Southeast Asia, or in-transit between. She has an obsession with buses, shoots with a Nikon SLR camera, and destroys cellos on stage with her indie rock band. She’s traveled to 35 countries, including working for earthquake disaster organizations in Peru and Sumatra. 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. Follow her on Twitter @untappedmich.

07/23/14 9:00am

Miniature Door-Cynthia Von Buhler-Speakeasy Dollhouse-NYCPhoto by Bryan Thatcher of SuzyMae checking out a door

A couple days ago we came across this adorable find by Scouting NY on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn. In fact, these architecturally detailed miniature doors, looking just like the series of fairy doors in Ann Arbor, have been popping up all over New York City, tagged with QR codes that lead to the Speakeasy Dollhouse. Conveniently, we’ve been covering the Speakeasy Dollhouse and other theater pieces by Cynthia von Buhler for quite some time now so we could ask her some questions about it.

The craziest thing about these fairy doors is that von Buhler isn’t putting them up herself–it’s her fans. Speaking with von Buhler, she tells us that said fans have been installing them for two and a half years: “About 150 doors have been put up. Some have doormats with secret keys underneath. A few actually open.” Design-wise, the fans have been inspired by von Buhler’s book, But Who Will Bell the Cats?

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07/16/14 9:00am

Cooper Union Clock-East Village-NYC

The Cooper Union Foundation Building at Astor Place stands today amongst modern monoliths, remnants of a day when the elevated IRT Third Avenue rail still ran down the Bowery. With even more big changes are underway with the urban streetscape getting a complete redesign by WXY Architecture, Untapped Cities writer Daniel London had a chance to take a look at what lies behind the great clock in the Cooper Union Building:

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07/15/14 9:00am

Phoenix-Xu Bing-Cathedral St John the DIvine-Morningside Heights-NYC-1

On a visit to the cathedral of St. John the Divine, you’ll see the exhibit Phoenix by Xu-Bing hanging in the nave of the epic cathedral, one of the largest in the world. The two birds that make up the Phoenix by artist Xu-Bing are each 90 to 100 feet long and weigh 12 tons. They’re made of waste from the many construction sites across Beijing, symbols of a rapidly changing urban landscape. In order to support the structures, metal wires are looped up through the “weep holes” (which drain water) and through the Guastavino tiled vaults.

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07/14/14 2:00pm

July 14

It’s the last day of French Restaurant Week!

Museum of the City of New York hosts the tour of St. John the Divine, “Hidden Genius: Rafael Guastavino at St. John the Divine” in conjunction with their Palaces for the People exhibit. This tour is sold out but you can join our vertical tour of St. John the Divine Saturday August 23rd at 12pm for an adventurous behind-the-scenes look climb to the top of one of the world’s largest cathedrals.

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07/14/14 9:00am


A couple years ago, we sent Untapped Cities editor Benjamin Waldman on a quest to track down places that memorialize Edgar Allan Poe. In the process, one particular item that gave him trouble was locating the mantel in front of which Poe wrote his famous poem “The Raven.” According to documentation Waldman tracked down, Columbia University had acquired the mantel in 1908 from a Colonel Hemstreet who had saved the mantel from destruction during the demolition of the Brennan farmhouse, where Poe had lived on what is now 84th Street and Broadway.

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