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soviet cold war maps_NYC-Untapped Cities2South Ferry, Liberty Island, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, and Jersey City on a Soviet-era map dating back to 1982. Image via Wired

With its final days almost 25 years passed (though historians disagree on the exact date), the Cold War-era tension between the United States and the former Soviet Union has passed into faded memory for those who were alive to witness it, and remain completely alien to everyone else. Never before had two superpowers capable of destroying the world with their masses of weapons been so close to pulling the trigger. Students as young as kindergarteners in school were trained to hide under their desks at the hint of attack. Nowadays, we fear lone gunmen instead of nuclear bombs, but the shape of the world during the Cold War was always hard to see, even now.

The Soviet mapmakers who created upwards of 1.1 million maps of the world, sometimes in street-level detail, held a different view. Wired recently published a collection of the found maps dating back to the 1980s. Apart from the unsettling detail with which some of these maps depict civilian areas of New York, Washington, D.C., and many more areas of military interest, they portray world power seeking the Google Maps-level perspective on the entire world almost 30 years early. What they intended to use this information for, one need only guess at.

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2 world trade center-NYC-Untapped Cities2 World Trade Center. Image via popularmechanics.com

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is most notable to New Yorkers these days as the designer of 2 World Trade Center, the final building slated for construction that will overlook the former Ground Zero in the new World Trade Center complex. His body of work, however, is growing in New York City with the Dry Line and the unique residential building in Hell’s Kitchen,VIA 57 West. His firm BIG is one of the hottest in the industry right now, translating the wacky and intricate modern designs Ingels is known for in Europe to the New York stage. There’s also a project, nicknamed “The Tostito” coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

In a new interactive and video from The New York Times, Ingels notes how Manhattan has welcomed him since moving a branch of his Copenhagen firm to New York in 2011. Ingel’s redesigned 2 World Trade Center, conceived of as a leaning stack of sharp-edged boxes, with outdoor terraces on the 80th floor and above, should be one of the more interesting sights in the Financial District, along with being the fifth tallest building in New York City. An interactive 360-view of the planned building can be seen here.

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The New York Subway system opened to the public for the first time on October 27th, 1904 and changed the face of mass transit in the city forever. Today, it takes no less than 40 minutes to travel up Manhattan from South Ferry to Washington Heights two hundred blocks away (that is, if you take the right train), a journey that would would normally be five times as long on foot.

It’s a 24-hour system that ferries you and millions of New Yorkers around the city every day, but you may be unaware of the technology behind it. Did you know one of the main subway traffic controllers is housed in the West 4th Street station? Did you know that much of the machinery used to monitor the trains dates back to the 1950s and earlier? In an exclusive video exploring the antiquated system behind subway control, the MTA showcases its very old, very outdated, but still effective technology, and looks to the future of the subway commute with a brand new method of monitoring traffic. That method is called communications-based train control, and, once implemented in trains all over the city, will finally modernize the subway.

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plaza hotel secrets theplazany.com-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via theplazany.com

At the corner of Central Park sits a French Chateau. At least, that’s what the original developers of New York City’s Plaza Hotel, Bernhard Beinecke, hotelier Fred Sterry, and Harry S. Black, President of the Fuller Construction Company, intended when they spent $12 million building a 19-story ‘skyscraper’ hotel near the Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan. The Plaza Hotel, the only hotel in the city to be named a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1907. Papers hailed it at the time as the greatest hotel in the world. It was certainly the most luxurious, boasting its breathtaking glass-ceilinged Palm Court, its 1,650 crystal chandeliers, and its gold-encrusted china, the largest order from L. Straus & Sons in history.

The Plaza Hotel is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in the city, now over a hundred years old. For decades, it was the meeting place of Manhattan’s wealthiest socialites, and still remains, in some part, today. Most interesting to us though in its 100 year history are some of its most eye-catching secrets. Here’s what we dug up:

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City Hall Subway Station-Before Opening-NYC 1904-2The original City Hall subway station in New York City

By reading first-hand accounts of opening day of the New York City subway, October 27, 1904, you get a picture of the excitement, madness, and sheer feat the construction of the underground system was. The first subway line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, ran from the glorious City Hall subway station (now decommissioned) to 145th Street, proclaiming “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes,” though as you’ll discover, even the first day wasn’t without delaeys.

Here are some of the fun facts that we found from reading reports from The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune about opening day:

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Architect Says Notebooks-Le Corbusier-Cesar Pelli-R. Buckminster Fuller-Laura Dushkes

Thanks to our friends at Princeton Architectural Press, we’re giving away 3 sets of The Architect Says Notebooks to Untapped Cities readers. The gridded notebooks feature a foil printed quote by architects Le Corbusier, R. Buckminster Fuller and Cesar Pelli, with a sewn spine. To be released on September 1st (and available for pre-order on Amazon), the notebooks serve as a companion to the best-selling book The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom by Laura Dushkes.

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“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves room for less lies” – Le Corbusier

“The desire to reach for the sky runs very deep in our human psyche.”

“Whenever I draw a circle, I immediately want to step out of it.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

Each giveaway comes with a full set of the three notebooks. To enter the giveaway, use the embed below for entires via social media. Giveaway will end on August 17th.