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Here’s what the Untapped staff has been enjoying this week (along with the crisper October temperatures).

New York

Ever wondered what would happen if you threw caution into the wind and actually drank water from the Gowanus canal? So has Dan Nosowitz of Popular Science. Despite its location in the now-blooming Gowanus neighborhood, the canal itself is still one of America’s most polluted waterways. According to Nosowitz’s exposé, if you take a drink (not recommended), anticipate a very high risk of developing dysentery, cancer, and arsenic poisoning. Read the full article here.

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History of the Ghost Street-Beijing-China-Untapped Cities-Celeste Zhou3Guijie-”Ghost Street”, via PhotoMedia

If you ask Beijingers where to eat in summer nights, most of them would give the same answer: Guijie! Located at the northeastern side of the Forbidden city, “Ghost Street” stretches 1,442 meters from Dongzhimen cloverleaf junction in the east, to Jiaodaokou East Street in the west, and its structure is like a dumbbell—bigger both ends and smaller in the middle. With a sea of red lanterns hanging over the street, “Ghost Street” hosts over a hundred restaurants, becoming one of the most unique streets in Beijing.

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Liangchen Proposal-Old Beijing-China-Untapped Cities-Celeste Zhou4Plan for new Beijing in Liang-Chen Proposal, via Chengji, edited by Celeste Zhou

Imagine a two-center Beijing, with the central Forbidden City and city walls intact, and high rises and skyscrapers flourishing at the western part of Beijing. This vision may be unimaginable for many people, yet once it nearly became reality.  (more…)

Yandaixie Street-China-Beijing-History of Streets-Celeste Zhou-Untapped Cities1

While gigantic shopping complexes are taking over Beijing, some ancient shopping streets have stayed close to their historical roots. Located in the western part of Beijing, just next to Shichahai, Yandaixie Street is the oldest commercial street in the capital. In 2010, the street was awarded the title of “China’s Famous Historical and Cultural Street” by the Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage for its lasting charm and sense of history.  (more…)

Bike Sharing Program-global-China-Untapped Cities-Celeste Zhou1Beijing’s Newly Installed Bike Share. Source: The People 

In early 2013, China was home to 79 bike sharing programs, sending some 358,000 public bicycles to cities that mostly rest on the east coast of China. In a country where bicycles have long been a symbol of under-development, much progress has been made to rehabilitate and modernize their image. Most importantly, this environmentally friendly method of transportation costs little in China, with the first hour free and subsequent hours priced at 1 RMB per hour (~$0.16 USD) in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Still, China lags far behind in the development of bike sharing programs compared globally. The number of bikes has dropped sharply in the past fifteen years in contrast to a more than tenfold increase in the number of cars. The first attempt to develop bike sharing programs in Beijing dates back to 2005, when several private companies began their services separately. These initiatives peaked in 2008. Due to high management costs, low returns, confusing charging standards and few governmental subsidies, these programs proved unsustainable. Beijing only launched its current program in 2012, but it’s still too early to gauge its long-term impact and effect. (more…)

Sidney Gamble-history-Beijing-China-Untapped Cities-Celeste Zhou4

1917-1919, Tai Mountains, China. Young Sidney Gamble took a picture of himself, sitting on a human-powered chair and smiling with the workers. Yet Gamble was not a mere tourist, taking I-have-been-here photos wherever he went. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1890, Gamble was a social worker and an excellent amateur photographer, leaving nearly five thousand photographs of China and also publishing several works including Peking, a Social Survey and The Disappearance of Foot-Binding in Tinghsien, all of which were taken during his frequent visits to the country between 1917-1932. (more…)