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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.


Pier-55-Diller Scofidio Renfro-Hudson River Park-West Side Highway-NYCImage via Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio. Renderings by Luxigon.

Hudson River Park, that wonderful five-mile stretch of greenery, has struggled with funding issues in the past looking before to controversially sell air rights at Pier 40 and storing limestone cow heads to be placed when the remaining 30% of the park is renovated. It turns out the Hudson River Park Trust approached fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg and her husband Barry Diller to help replace Pier 54, an abandoned pier that once welcomed the survivors of the Titanic. The choice is unsurprising for the new project, dubbed Pier55, given that Diller and von Furstenburg are the largest private donors for The High Line.

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Underwest Doughnuts-West Side Highway-Car Wash-47th Street-4Image by Melissa Hom via Grubstreet

As you can imagine, we are pretty excited to hear (via Grubstreet) that a new donut spot is opening up in a rather unique location: a car wash on the West Side Highway. Underwest Donuts will be at Westside Highway Car Wash at 12th Avenue and 47t Street, a spot next to the former H&H Bagel. Like the recent French bakery, Arcade Bakery, located in a gorgeous office lobby, location was half luck. When Scott Levin, a former sous chef at Chanterelle, was looking for a storefront, it turned out that his father-in-law is an owner of the car wash, and the place in the tunnel was unused. There’s going to be an automatic donut robot to add to the fun.

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The Strangers Project-Brandon Doman-Stories-Hi There-Brooklyn-NYC

In Washington Square Park, we ran into Brandon Doman, founder of The Strangers Project, an on-going collection of over 10,000 handwritten journal entries Doman has collected from around the country. The enticing and friendly, “HI THERE!” sign drew our eye and we read some of the fascinating entries while chatting with Doman. He started the idea just on a whim at a coffee shop because he was suddenly curious about all hundreds of people walking by. Using a marker he wrote, “Hi there! Please stop and share your story!” which evolved into the current project.

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You know about food trucks, but New York City is full of other types of unique mobile truck businesses. And no, we’re not talking about the NYPD trucks that process delinquents…

1. Del Re’s Knife Grinding Truck

“It’s like old New York,” says a happy customer waiting for her kitchen knives to be sharpened Saturday morning near Columbia University. 58-year old Dominic Del Re is from Italy and was a commodities trader in New York City. He decided to get into the mobile knife sharpening business after the stock market crash of 1987. The truck is from his wife’s uncle, a knife grinder in Montreal, who also taught him the trade, which was passed down from his wife’s grandfather. He started in Brooklyn and now goes all over. He doesn’t like photographs, but will jokingly charge you $1 per shot. And he has a strict no weapons policy.

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Fulton Center Transit Hub-MTA-Cast Iron Gate-Hotel McAlpin-Marine Murals-NYC

Herald Square seems packed full of retail, department stores, and office buildings today, but there’s a large apartment building at the corner of 34th Street and Broadway that was once the Hotel McAlpin. At its completion in 1912, it was the largest hotel in the world with a Turkish bath on the top floor and two gender-specific floors. Perhaps most of note was the Hotel McAlpin’s restaurant, the Marine Grill, for its terra cotta murals and cast iron entrance gate. In fact, the restaurant originally had a different name but was renamed the Marine Grill, in celebration of the subject matter of the murals–major moments in New York City’s maritime history from Henry Hudson’s arrival to Robert Fulton’s steamship. Thanks to preservationists, the terra cotta murals and the entrance gate are now embedded into the new Fulton Center Transit Hub.

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Fulton Center Transit Hub-MTA-World Trade Center-Sky Reflector-Net-James Carpenter-NYC-002

There’s been a lot of hype around the new Fulton Center Transit Hub that opened this morning at 5 A.M. Senator Charles E. Schumer proclaimed that it was a “a metaphor for a revitalized downtown.” MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu effused “Magical wouldn’t be too strong a word” for what officials are calling New York City’s “next great public space.” For years, the MTA had on its website that the Fulton Center hub would “immediately take its place among New York City’s great public spaces” when opened, akin to “a downtown Grand Central.” At the opening, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said “Forget the Grand Central clock. They’re going to come here.”

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