Posts by spencercohen:

Articles By: spencer cohen

Spencer is an urban explorer, writer, and photographer (almost all film!). He has a passion for cooking, and spent some time working in an east village restaurant. He lived in Rome in the fall of 2013 studying and writing of his adventures, while exploring the intersection between food and history. A native New Yorker, he has spent his youth running through the streets of NYC in search of the unique. He's a student at Columbia University, still unsure of his major, but studying Asia, history, and art history. He also has a strange obsession with the beach boys and all things surf music.


In honor of the warm weather (hopefully) dawning on the city soon, we thought we’d share a list of New York’s most notable swimming pools–from historically significant ones in ruins, a floating public pool in the works, to ones crowning five star hotels. What follows is a list of notable pools around the city.

1. Woolworth Building Pool

Woolworth Building-Pool-Pompeii-Wurts Brothers-Vintage Photo-NYCThe Woolworth Building‘s Pompeii inspired pool (photo via New-York Historical Society)

In the depths of the the Woolworth Building, one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, rests the remnants of a Pompeii-inspired pool. Covered extensively in our The New York City That Never Was column, the pool was designed by Woolworth Building architect Cass Gilbert and used until 1999 as part of the Jack Lalane health club. Today, it is undergoing renovation as part of the partial conversion of the Woolworth Building into luxury condominiums.

Check out our photos of the pool in its abandoned state, pre-renovation. Note our upcoming tour of the building, led by Cass Gilbert’s great granddaughter


Washington Mews Untapped Cities Urban Edge New York CityWashington Mews, now apart of NYU (photo via Urban Edge)

The West Village’s curving and twisting streets lend itself well to many small alleys that are either hidden or extremely subtle. These small alley ways and courtyards and unique to the West Village and there is no concentration of them as great as in this area.  There are also countless beautiful private streets, many lined with houses originally built as stables for the grandiose townhouses in the area.


Cathy Grier NYC Subway Girl Image by Nousha Salimi Untapped Cities Buskers NYCCathy Grier, otherwise known as NYC Subway Girl (photo via  NYC Subway Girl, by Nousha Salimi)

From the tin drum man of 34th street to that classic mariachi band,  New York City subways are characterized by their eccentric musicians, also known as “Buskers.” Part of the nature of these acts is their effervescence — there are no selfies with the band in subway stations. Cathy Grier, otherwise known as NYC Subway Girl, seeks to give these talented musicians some more credit as she documents them in video(more…)

Cortlandt Alley-Chinatown-Secrets-NYCCortlandt Alley in Chinatown. Photo via Flickr by zokuga

If you’re looking for a glimpse of old New York City, look no further than Cortlandt Alley in Chinatown. The building facades are heavily rusted and appear to be in a state of disrepair. Remnants of the areas industrial past, such as loading docks and fire escapes, line the walls and remain intact.

Urban explorers have taken a fascination in the street, which seems to hold many mysteries. When Scouting NY took a trip to the street four years ago, he discovered a subterranean Ping Pong facility in a space he expected would house criminal activity–it did indeed have iron bar clad windows and he often heard screaming from within. There’s also a fascinating museum built into a freight elevator, a curiosity we covered early last year.


northern-dispensary-waverly-christopher-street-history-nyc-untappedThe Northern Dispensary in Greenwich Village. Photo via Forgotten NY.

A peculiar building sits in Greenwich Village, a beacon to a bygone era of New York. Wandering the neighborhood, you might notice a triangular structure clad in an old fashioned black sign with gold writing, which reads “Northern Dispensary.” It is bordered by Waverley Place on two sides, Christopher Street on one, and Grove Street on the other. From a distance, it seems to fit in with the other buildings, but when you get closer, you realize that it is empty.  (more…)

Shibui spa Greenwich Hotel Tribeca NYC Untapped CitiesPhoto via Shibui Spa

We’ve seen some strange spa treatments before, but a Japanese sake soak in NYC? Wouldn’t you be tempted to drink it?

Sake has long been touted for its purifying and moisturizing qualities. Geishas supposedly bathed in sake daily in order to soften their skin. It’s also a New Years tradition to bathe in sake, said to clear away bad spirits and grant new beginnings.  (more…)