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.

Temporary Disaster Housing Unit Prototype-NYC-Office of Emergency Management-Cadman Plaza

We took a visit inside the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) again last week, one of our favorite city agencies because it looks just like NASA inside. On the agenda for this visit included a look at the city’s Temporary Disaster Housing Unit which is currently being tested by OEM employees, who live inside one week at a time. It’s actually the nation’s first urban post-disaster housing prototype, a direct response to the challenges faced after Hurricane Sandy.


A Pound of Flesh-London-Wax House-Alex Chinneck-Melting-Kiki Stevenson-Merge Festival

Over the course of one year, artist Alex Chinneck built a “brick” house made entirely of wax, in partnership with a team of engineers, wax manufacturers and chemists. It was for an installation at the Merge Festival in London this month called “A Pound of Flesh for 50p.” The science behind it is to ensure that the building melts at a steady rate, turning into a regular old slouchy building.


Coney Island Brewery-World's Smallest Brewery-Brooklyn-NYCConey Island Brewing Company. Image via Wikimedia Commons by Amuggle

In 2011, the Coney Island Brewing Company opened up to much fanfare, selling (really small) batch brews–in fact, before it closed in 2012, it was the smallest commercial brewery in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. Only one gallon of beer was produced per batch, out of a space in Sideshows by the Seashore which they were allowed to use rent-free. According to World Record Academy, the equipment consisted of “Bunsen burners, hot plates, and old-timey mechanisms that cast a Prohibition-style moon-shine vibe over the entire operation.” But despite the nano-batch production, Coney Island Brewing Company was actually part of Schmaltz Brewing Company, which produces the equally fun line of HE’BREW beers. Sadly Hurricane Sandy flooded the property and Schmaltz sold the line to Alchemy, a subsidiary of Boston Brewery who makes Sam Adams.


One time we wrote about all the manholes inside Westminster Abbey, London (amazingly, there are over 50). New York City also has an amazing array of manholes and after our recent discovery of a Flickr group dedicated to the city’s manholes, we thought we’d highlight some of the most unique ones. Manhole covers were once a part of a town’s civic pride, with foundries and local authorities placing their stamp on the cast-iron covers. Covers were a reflection of the progress made through the industrial revolution and the new provision of services that accompanied increasing urbanization. Many of the manholes specify Con Edison or Bell, a reflection of the move to put the city’s electrical wires underground after the great blizzard of 1888.

Oldest Manhole Cover in NYC

Croton Aqueduct Manhole-Jersey Street-NYC-1866Image by matvonthies


Ansonia-Hotel-Upper West Side

It’s hard to imagine today that people had to be lured to settle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but such was the case at the turn of the 20th century when the first New York City subway line opened. The Interborough Rapid Transit Line (IRT) started at City Hall, with the most epic of subway stations (now closed off to the public except on official Transit Museum tours). The Astors and other enterprising investors owned the land uptown, purchased in a speculative property boom. Now, the question was how to brand the area.


The Freemasons have long been a mysterious force in both American and European history. The group in New York City however has become more open to inquisitive eyes in the last decade, reaching out for new members and becoming more active in community service. If you are looking for a little bit of Freemasonry in your explorations, there are some interesting locations you can visit in the city.

1. Grand Lodge of Masons