New York City’s prison population is the lowest it has been in 10 years–10,923 inmates as of September 2014. But still, an ongoing question for the NYC Department of Corrections is where to house the inmates in a city as dense as New York. It might be surprising to some that the city’s prisons are generally, right among us–some look just like the apartment buildings next door except for some barbed wire windows. Prisons used to be organized along district lines, particularly before the 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs. They were attached to or near the courts and were little more than holding cells.

Here below are 15 of NYC’s former prisons, many which are still standing:


New York City is after all, a city on the water. This week, we’ve rounded up the Instagram photos from our readers that combine the architectural skyline and the city’s rivers. Hashtag #UntappedCities on Instagram and Twitter if you would like to have one of your photos entered in the running for our weekly “Best Of”column. Also, you can keep an eye on what contributors and readers are checking out by browsing the live feed.

Looking at the Empire State Building by 212sid

untapped cities-photo pool-views from distance-212sid


Van Alen Institute-Interior-NYCVan Alen Institute, image by Cameron Blayloc

The great thing about New York City is it would take several lifetimes (and some serious planning) to really take advantage of everything the city has to offer. However, for those who want a detour from the normal holiday festivities (and aren’t up for battling the shoppers, indulge in a mid-December weekend break that has nothing to do with holiday festivities, holiday markets or dining. 

The Van Alen Institute, a design and architecture organization on West 22nd Street, has several great events planned for the upcoming weekend, including a transportation panel on Saturday and a Design Presentation and Conversation on Sunday. Located at the Institute’s newly renovated headquarters at 30 West 22nd Street from 4-6pm, discover how designers and architects plot new experiences even for the native New Yorker.


Earlier this hour, Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young joined Paul Goldberger and Aaron Betsky on the HuffPostLive segment “The Missed Opportunity Of The World Trade Tower” with host Josh Zepps. The three guests discussed the architecture of compromise that led to the completed design, what happened to the original winning proposal, what the World Trade Center gets right, and where else in the world to look for great urbanism and architecture. Watch the video:


Ridgewood Intermodal Terminal Dispatcher Booth-Queens-Bushwick-Myrtle Wyckoff-NYC-2

In 2010, the Ridgewood Intermodal Terminal opened at Myrtle-Wyckoff station on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, line facilitating subway to bus transfers along the L and M lines. The project from the MTA was completed at a cost of $4.5 million, bringing together the numerous bus lines in the area into a small stretch on Palmetto Street, which is open to buses and deliveries only. Much like the newspaper stand that mimics the original Heins and LaFarge fare control station on 72nd Street, the dispatcher booth is a miniature house that is in the same aesthetic as the main house, just across the street.


Ellis Island-Southside-Landfill-NYC-NJ-Immigrant-Aerial ViewImage via Michelle Henry 

On a tour of the abandoned south side hospitals on Ellis Island to track down the work of artist JR, National Park Service Ranger Mandy Edgecombe gave us lots of fun facts about the island most commonly associated with immigration.

1. Ellis Island used to be privately owned

The owner of Ellis Island, which he called Oyster Island, was Samuel Ellis. In 1785, he tried to sell it and even advertised it as a “pleasant situated island” in Loudon’s New York-Packet but there were no bites. The city leased the island for military purposes starting in 1794, upon the death of Ellis and buys it from the family in 1808 for $10,000.