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.

2-Central Park Trolley-Trolley Museum Connecticut-NYC-Untapped Cities

Earlier this month, we tracked down the incredible private subway car of August Belmont Jr., the financier for the first subway line in New York City at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut. Another find in this amazing museum, which has over 100 vintage trolley and subway cars, is the horse drawn trolley car, the Horsecar 76. It’s believed to be the oldest preserved streetcar in the world. This adorable trolley was tucked in the back of one of the museum’s brand new storage barns, built 17 feet above the 500 year flood plain.



When you Google the 168th Street Station, one of the top results is “168th street station creepy” and there’s a good reason for that. The Washington Heights station, where the 1 train stops, has been pretty decrepit for years. It was built as a grand station of the IRT subway, the first line in the city, with a tiled tunnel arch and vintage lanterns, it was badly in need of renovation. The exciting news is that the renovation is well underway and you can finally see some of the grandeur peeking through now that the ceiling is done. The contrast between old and rehabilitated is pretty striking and riders can finally get a glimpse of how impressive this station might have looked brand new.


Exciting news for urban planning nerds! BLDZR: The Gospel According to Moses, a musical about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs will be showing six times at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side this fall. As we said about the show preview in April, it’s supremely entertainingThere will be two shows each on October 20th, 21st and 22nd, at 7pm and 9:30pm on each day.


Ellis Island-Aerial View 2-Save Ellis Island-NYCEllis Island. Image via Save Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is one of the requisite stops for visitors and residents alike in New York City. It was the entry point for over 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. The architecture of the Ellis Island immigration station is stunning, in handsome brick and interiors of Guastavino tile. Yet, there is a whole history of the island that is often overlooked.

On a tour of the abandoned south side hospitals on Ellis Island to track down the work of artist JR, National Park Service Ranger Mandy Edgecombe gave us lots of secrets about the island, whose history is most commonly associated with immigration.


NYC Branding 2016-Icons-Font-NYC Sans-City Block-NYC & Company-Some New Yorkers are born. Some are made. All are welcome.

Since the mid-1970s, New York City has proactively cultivated its own brand and identity for both tourism and for the residents within. From the I ❤ NY campaign in 1977  (created by New York State Empire Development Corporation) to the gorgeous See the City campaign in 2014-15 that encouraged New Yorkers to explore more of the gems in all five boroughs, graphic design has formed a key element of this branding. Now, New York City has its own custom fonts, launched with the release of the new NYCgo.com website.


All photographs by Christopher Payne

A few years ago, we covered the photographer Christopher Payne’s incredible work inside the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, Queens. Payne’s background as an architect clearly informs the spatial composition of his photographs, of which many took long hours to set up. More than just beautiful images, Payne’s work captures an important legacy of New York City’s manufacturing present, highlighting how handcrafted, highly technical objects can still be produced here. In many ways, his work pre-dates the city’s obsession with things small-batch and handcrafted: Steinway pianos take one year to make.

Payne’s patience has paid off in so many of his projects – regular visits to North Brother Island in all seasons, battling poison ivy, snow, and rickety abandoned buildings – led to the book North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York CityNow, he’s self-published the book Making Steinway: An American Workplace. The photos capture the production process and the skilled workers at the Steinway factory, revealing pieces of the instruments that will never be visible to the public.