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.

Municipal Archives Building Exhibit-In the Shadow of the Highway- Robert Moses' Expressway and the Battle for Downtown-NYC_5

On exhibit at the NYC Municipal Archives Building (the lobby alone is worth a visit) is “In the Shadow of the Highway: Robert Moses’ Expressway and the Battle for Downtown,” a two-room installation that explores one of Robert Moses‘ most hated plans: a 10-lane downtown expressway (LOMEX) that would have cut through Soho and Little Italy.

The exhibit begins with some context, in some ways situating Moses’ plan within a greater movement geared towards efficient and well-planned cities – this makes Moses seem slightly less like the villain he’s often portrayed as, that perhaps he was part of a misguided Utopian vision. But the exhibit quickly moves into its main emphasis – the community response that eventually defeated the plan and ended Moses’ reign in New York City.


Sunset Park Sims Municipal Recycling Facility-recycling facility-South Brooklyn Marine Terminal-NYCNYCEDC-003Sims Municipal Recycling Facility. Photo by NYCEDC.

On Thursday, November 19th at 6pm, join us for our new Untapped Cities Behind the Scenes NYC Tour with NYCEDC of the Sims Municipal Recycling Facility, is a state-of the-art, recycling facility located at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT). The facility is the result of a public-private partnership between New York City and Sims.

Completed in 2013 using sustainable design practices, the reactivated site processes all plastic, metal, and glass collected by the Department of Sanitation and helps traffic the City of New York’s recyclables while creating jobs for the local community. Eadaoin Quinn, Education Coordinator at Sims, and Patrick Thrasher, Assistant VP in NYCEDC‘s Asset Management Division, will take Untapped Cities behind the scenes of the recycling plant, which currently occupies 11 acres of SBMT. Join us for a 90-minute tour and get a first-hand look at the City’s recycling process. Tickets are limited.

Operated by Sims Municipal Recycling, the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility is New York City’s principal recycling center receiving approximately 20,000 tons of residential metal, glass, plastic and paper every month. The facility features advanced sorting equipment, award-winning architectural design, interactive educational displays, a 600kW solar panel array and NYC’s first commercial-scale wind turbine.

The Untapped Cities Behind the Scenes NYC Tour Series is produced in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to provide special access to some of the city’s most exciting development projects. The tours are led by NYCEDC experts who have spearheaded the redevelopment as well as the community partners for the projects, offering insider insight into the past, present and future of these sites.

311 complaint maps are all the rage (and several Untapped Cities folks are even behind a new 311 app competing in NYCBigApps semifinal this Sunday). In this latest map by StreetEasy “Neighborhood Fright Levels,” the analyst team at the real estate company mapped out Halloween complaints for the last two years in New York City. Typical complaints included in this Halloween special edition include things like “urinating in public,” “disorderly youth,” “noise”, “unsanitary condition,” “dirty condition,” “overflowing litter basket,” and more. (more…)


In July, we reported that one of the city’s last old-school diners, the Market Diner on West 43rd Street and 11th Avenue would be replaced by new development. That day has come – amNewYork reports that after Sunday, the Market Diner will be no more. Open for 53 years (longer than the time we have lost the original Penn Station), it was one of just 5 vintage chrome diners left in New York City. It has seen everyone from Frank Sinatra to the city’s notorious gangsters. It will be replaced by a 13-story multi-use building by developers, the Moinian Group.


Untapped Cities columnist Will Ellis, author of the book Abandoned NYC and founder of the website of the same name, will be giving a talk and workshop at the Apple Store inside Grand Central Terminal tomorrow evening at 7pm. He’ll share his experiences documenting the abandoned spaces of New York City, focusing particularly on the city’s asylums just in town for Halloween (and even a paranormal experience he had in New England) and share tips about how to photograph these places on Apple devices. Here’s a sneak preview of the images you’ll see on this talk:


Artist JR, who has made his mark on so many places in New York City (from the Inside Out Project in Times Square, Fordham University and in the Bronx), to the 5 borough Walking New York, to the exhibit Unframed Ellis Island. In the latter exhibit, featuring the faces of immigrants who came through Ellis Island’s now abandoned hospital complex, JR also filmed a short narrative film entitled Ellisstarring Robert DeNiro. Filmed in the winter amidst falling snow, the film gives a sense to this place, in plain sight on Ellis Island today. This trailer provides a glimpse into this forthcoming film.