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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.


We last reported on the Big U plan last year, a striking proposal by Bjarke Ingels to fortify lower Manhattan and one of the winners of the Rebuild by Design competition. Since then, we’ve sat with members of the Big U team, learning what it’s going to take to get the neighborhoods along the lower Manhattan waterfront to agree to some of these groundbreaking measures, which include reconfiguring park spaces and installing deployable walls. Nonetheless, the first part of the plan is underway along the East Side and recently the Big U team released this new video explaining the project, aptly renamed the “Dry Line.”

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chrysler-building-skyscrapers-new-york-city-skyline-roof-darkcyanidePhoto by Dark Cyanide

The Chrysler Building is one of the most beloved of New York City’s skyscrapers, an architectural manifestation of both the Art Deco era and the automobile age. Famous as it may be, the Chrysler Building holds many fascinating secrets, compounded by the fact that it is difficult to visit and doesn’t offer tours, unlike the Woolworth Building and the Empire State Building. Here are 10 lesser known facts about the Chrysler Building, many derived from an Q&A with David Stravitz, the author of The Chrysler Building: Creating a New York Icon Day by Day with The New York Times in 2009.

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Popularity Pays App-Joe Coffee-Intellegentsia-Tobys Estate-Swap-Instagram-Brooklyn-NYC-Chicago.PNG

Popular Pays is an app that rewards Instagram users with free perks for taking photographs of participating businesses, with locations unlocked based on the number of Instagram followers. Started in Chicago, the app just starting releasing locations in New York City. For now, the early partners are mostly coffee shops like Toby’s Estate Coffee, Joe Coffee, Intellegentsia and Bluestone Lane Coffee (some spots featured on our Top 10 Coffee Shops for Design Buffs in Brooklyn list), where you can get a free cup of coffee with an Instagram from the spot, as long as you have 500 followers. At Spyglass Rooftop Bar atop Archer New York Hotel, get a free specialty coffee with a photo and 3,000 followers.

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George Washington Bridge-Steel Tower Lights-President's Day-NYC-005Photo by Dark Cyanide

While it is fairly well-known that the exposed steel towers of the George Washington Bridge were not part of the original Beaux-Arts design (check out the pink granite exterior it was supposed to have), what’s not commonly known is that they get lit up, unannounced, for holidays a few times a year. A smaller-scale program like that on the Empire State Building. Yesterday, the towers were lit for President’s Day and the photographer Dark Cyanide shared us these shots he took (while almost floating away on the bed of ice).

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Holographic Studios-Gallery Laser Laboratory NYC-009

On 26th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is the Holographic Studio, one of the more obscure, off-the-beaten path museum-like spots in New York City. The Holographic Studios is a gallery and laser laboratory run by Jason Sapan, an expert in holography who worked with laser technologies for Bell Labs in the 1960s. The Holographic Studio is the only known storefront holography gallery and laboratory in the world. It’s also the oldest holographic gallery in the world, and the laboratory sits in subterranean space below. Recently, the New York Adventure Club took a private tour of the space, in a building that was once home to a blacksmith, and later a Medical Instruments manufacturer that made OBGYN products for Bellevue Hospital nearby.

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Jeffrey Linn-NYC Sea Level Rise 100 feet Map

We’ve had a slew of (not so) Fun Maps on Untapped Cities recently, like the map of subway bacteria from all of NYC’s stations (yum). Well, here is a look at New York City, should sea levels rise 100 feet. It’s been called a “doomsday scenario” by Business Insider, who broke news of the maps, but the maps themselves have a “Judgmental Maps”-like quality to them. What’s clear is that 1. Mapmaker Jeffrey Linn from Seattle loves puns and 2. Most of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx would be underwater. 3. Staten Island doesn’t count as part of New York City apparently.

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