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.

YMCA-Paris-Basketball Court-Rue Trevise-9th ArrondissementImage via Invisible Paris

The origins of basketball are undeniably in America, in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 where the game was invented at Springfield College. But the oldest known basketball court is actually located in Paris, according to Invisible Paris who recently took a visit during the annual Journées du PatrimoineThe court is located in the YMCA on 14 rue Trévise in the 9th arrondisement of Paris, in a building built in 1892 (the same year the first public basketball game was played).


Penn Station-Ron Ziel-Photoshop-Then and Now-NYCImage by Ron Ziel

The original Pennsylvania Station was a marvel of architecture from its Beaux-Arts exterior that stood like an imposing entrance to New York City’s west side to its lofty steel interior that harkened back to the Belle Époque of France. Its loss, which was one of the clinching demolitions that cemented the preservation movement, is still felt in New York City’s historical consciousness today. Architectural competitions seek to return the station to its glory, while better serving the population. And now, a play called The Eternal Space is in the works about an untold story from the demolition.


Albertine-French Bookstore-Cultural Services of French Embassy-Fifth Avenue-NYC-007

There’s a lot of activity happening in the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on 5th Avenue and 79th Street. The former Gilded Age mansion of Payne Whitney designed by Stanford White has been host to predominantly offices, special events and film shoots until tomorrow, when Albertine, a French bookstore and reading room will open to the public. In fact, it will be the only French bookstore in New York City, following the closing of Librarie de France  in 2010.


Infrastructure is an inevitable part of urban living. Subways and tunnels need ventilation, but the question is often–how to keep these functional spaces contained and away from the public eye? While many subway substations have been gutted and turned into apartments in New York City, other ventilation buildings have been concealed as residential townhouses. Here’s a roundup of these clever pieces of faux architecture in NYC, Paris, London and Toronto:

1. Brooklyn Heights Subway Ventilator


New York New Jersey Rail car-float operation-Hudson River-NYC-01Image via Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance 

Freight barges aren’t something we think about all the time but did you know there’s a floating train barge that crosses the Hudson River twice a day? It’s known as the New York New Jersey Rail car-float operation and just last week, the Port Authority approved a $356 million contract that will upgrade the system. The current floats transport 14 train cars at once, an equivalent of 56 semi-trucks, but the new cars will be able to accommodate 18 train cars. By crossing the Hudson, the floats take trucks off the highways and give freight a more direct route between New York and New Jersey. (more…)


Sakagura, a hidden Japanese restaurant and sake bar in Midtown Manhattan is one of our favorite hidden gems. We’ve highlighted it before for its quirky bathrooms that are in the shape of oversized sake barrels, but the entire restaurant is deserving of its own feature. First, it’s one of those places that you have to be in the know because the entrance isn’t right on the street. Open since 1996, Sakagura is located in the basement of a nondescript Midtown office building, past the security desk and through a pristine white marble lobby. Go down the stairs and into the entrance, and suddenly you feel as if you’ve entered a Japanese village.