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Ansonia-Hotel-Upper West Side

It’s hard to imagine today that people had to be lured to settle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but such was the case at the turn of the 20th century when the first New York City subway line opened. The Interborough Rapid Transit Line (IRT) started at City Hall, with the most epic of subway stations (now closed off to the public except on official Transit Museum tours). The Astors and other enterprising investors owned the land uptown, purchased in a speculative property boom. Now, the question was how to brand the area.

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The Freemasons have long been a mysterious force in both American and European history. The group in New York City however has become more open to inquisitive eyes in the last decade, reaching out for new members and becoming more active in community service. If you are looking for a little bit of Freemasonry in your explorations, there are some interesting locations you can visit in the city.

1. Grand Lodge of Masons

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The fact of life here in New York City is such that if you want buildings that can “scrape” the sky, you’ll need those without a fear of heights to build them and maintain them. Lucky for us sitting at our desks, looking out at the city’s skyscrapers, there are equally intrepid photographers you documented the workers on the early tall buildings and bridges in New York City. Without further ado photos from up top on the Waldorf-Astoria, Woolworth Building, Empire State Building, RCA Building, Brooklyn Bridge and more.

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1WTC_NYC_Untapped Cities_bhushan mondkar

A note from Untapped Cities founder, Michelle Young: 

9/11 happened on the first day of registration my sophomore year in college. I was sleeping and I remember hearing bounding footsteps in the hallway of our thinly-walled dorms at Harvard and someone saying that the World Trade Center had fallen. It seemed like something out of a crazy dream, so I kept on sleeping. I woke up to instant messages (remember those on AOL?) from New York, where I’m from. Friends at Columbia University had seen the whole thing happen from their skyscraper dorms in Morningside Heights. 

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On Friday, The New York Times published an article on New York City’s one-block streets–contending that they carry something antithetical to the city in some ways, proclaiming that bigger is not always better. But smaller can mean more expensive. While the article focuses much on the real estate nature of these wonderful enclaves, we’d thought we’d provide some historical tidbits and some of our own adds to the list.

1. Gay Street, Greenwich Village

Gay Street-Greenwich Village-NYC-One Block StreetImage via Wikimedia by Jean-Christophe BENOIST

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The underground of any city is fascinating. It reveals layers of history, things thought discarded or tucked away. It contains the underbelly of the city’s infrastructure. While the catacombs of New York City, Paris and other cities may be the most Halloween-esque for today’s holiday, we thought it would be fun to round up some of the city’s most interesting vaults. Instead of bodies and bones, these are subterranean spaces deliberately set aside for storing important and precious items. What is most interesting is the range in types of vaults here in New York City (no, money doesn’t make everything go around here, even though it might seem like it).

1. The Federal Reserve Gold Vault

1-Federal-Reserve-gold-new york-untapped cities-wesley yiinSource: Open Currency

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