Posts by susanxu:

Articles By: susan xu

Susan is NYC-based writer who enjoys reporting on the cultural aspects of the city. She holds a Bachelors in Anthropology from Macaulay Honors College and loves to study people, food and art.

We’re all guilty of resorting to Wikipedia whenever we need to write a history report or organize a presentation. Instead of pulling your information from a questionable source, why not speak with a librarian from the New York Public Library? In this video on Great Big StoryLibrarian Serena Jimenez talks about the help-line that answers more than 30,000 calls a year.


mount-vernon-hotel-nyc-untapped-citiesPhoto via Dmadeo

Whether it’s through an intimate family meal or a large social gathering centered around a dinner, food has the power to bring people together in the most unexpected ways. Even during the earliest days of American history, when politics revolved around powerful men who held office, women were able to participate in political culture by baking creative desserts such as “Election Cake” or “Jackson Jumbles.”

For some time, Montana State University Assistant Professor of History, Emily J. Arendt, has studied this unique intersection between food history and women’s involvement in politics in nineteenth-century America. Her research will now be the focus of Food and Partisanship in the Early Republic, an upcoming event at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden.


Aerial view of Rikers Island. Image via Wikimedia Commons: U.S. Geological Survey

Rikers IslandNew York City’s main jail complex (and the island it sits on), is situated on the East River, between Queens and the Bronx. As one of the largest correctional institutions in the world, the facility is comprised of 10 jails which have a total capacity of nearly 17,000 people – although daily numbers are between 7000 and 9000 .In fact, it has been referred to as the “World’s Largest Penal Colony.” As a jail however, stays are one year or shorter, with a large portion of detainees who can’t afford bail simply awaiting hearings and trials. 60,000 people men and women return home from Rikers Island each year.

For some time, Rikers Island has peaked our interests; so, in 2010, when someone on the Untapped Cities team officially received access inside, we made sure to document the experience as we learned about its secrets hidden beyond the ID checkpoints and X-ray scanners of the facility.


wallplay-hq-lower-east-side-nyc-untapped-citiesPhoto via Wallplay HQ

A few months ago, the building on the corner of Orchard and Delancey streets housed Wallplay HQ, a three-story exhibition space, fully equipped with art billboards, digital screens and a rooftop for visual projections. Since the company’s establishment in 2013, the physical property has been utilized as a storytelling channel: it’s served as a pop-up store, an event space and a canvas for artists over the years. Now, it’s painted in bright yellow and partly covered in graffiti. To some, it remains a work of art, while to others, it’s nothing more than an eyesore.


Leave it to New Yorkers to create witty and outrageous works of art inspired by Trump’s presidential campaign. From the recent “All-Seeing” Trump Zoltar machine to a mural depicting Trump as a giant pile of sh-t, these are some of our favorite snarky pieces we’ve seen around New York City within the last couple of months.


Halloween is just two weeks away and there are plenty of unique ways to celebrate in New York City. Instead of wasting your night indoors, peeking through the blinds and fending off hungry trick-or-treaters, head to an extravagant masquerade, solve a murder mystery game or participate in an immersive film experience in Brooklyn. Here’s our list of Untapped Halloween events for this year.