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They say creativity sours with age, that faced with the tumult of adult life, there’s room for little else besides work and the occasional dinner party or wedding to let loose. Gone are the days of make-believe and action figures and tag in the backyard.

Turns out, those simpler pleasures aren’t so easily let go. At least, that’s the idea behind “The collectivity project,” an art installation and social experiment inhabiting New York’s High Line around West 30th Street. It opened in May as part of “Panorama,” an outdoor art collection sponsored by High Line Art. The premise of designer and artist Olafur Eliasson is simple: gather up around two tons of all white legos, hire ten architectural firms to build the most outlandish things they can fathom, and invite anyone who passes to pick it all apart and build something of their own. The exhibition, free and open during the day, has slowly transitioned from ten pristine white creations to a whole mess of angles, bridges, and names written in bricks.


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One of the homes on the Mount Morris Park Historic House Tour, built for founder of Arm and Hammer baking soda

The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA) will cast a spotlight on the distinctive way area residents have taken design into their homes and businesses, with the theme of this year’s historic house tour, “Old Places, New Spaces.”  This annual tour, located in the Mount Morris Historic District, will take place next Sunday, June 14th.  The starting point will be at the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center in Marcus Garvey Park–home to the historic Harlem Fire Watchtower, and will include ten homes including a mansion in mid-restoration, brownstone homes in a range of styles with period details, live-work spaces, and more. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see:


You might assume that the cul-de-sac is an invention of post-World War II suburban sprawl, but the neighborhoods of Brooklyn’s Flatbush include several of these charming courts. It’s a reminder that decades before the war, Flatbush was a destination for families looking to move beyond the City’s urban core.


The Museum at Eldridge Street. Image by Peter Aaron

Come discover the history, architecture and the magical sanctuary of the landmarked Eldridge Street Synagogue, a beautiful house of worship built by Eastern European immigrants in America, in our After Hours Tour and Wine Reception on Wednesday, July 22nd, co-presented by Untapped Cities and the Museum at Eldridge Street. This will be our Summer Happy Hour event for our readers and contributor community, so come on down, we’d love to meet you.

PLEASE NOTE: The tour begins at 7pm and the wine event begins at 8pm.


Architecture Floorplan Quiz-0011

Slate has a great architecture quiz today (and it’s not easy!). We decided to create a New York City-centric one to test you architecture buffs with 10 floor plans from notable New York City buildings. How did you do? (see the answers on the next page).

Essex Street Market top 8 food finds-NYC-Untapped Cities-Jinwoo Chong

Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest concentrations of Chinese people outside of China. Still comprising more than 90,000 inhabitants as of today, its colorful banners and bustling street marketplaces are a persisting fixture of Lower Manhattan. It can trace the inklings of its history down to a single person, Guangzhou-born businessman Ah Ken, who was the first person to permanently settle in the area that is now known as Chinatown in 1858. Today, it faces decline due to rising rents and the looming threat of gentrification, but holds with it an illustrious history, from Ah Ken’s original cigar shop to the days of the Chinese Exclusion Act to the immense expansion and diffusion to other New York Chinatowns after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

And yet, amid the changing times, demographics, and culture of what began as a small outcropping of the first Chinese immigrants to America, are the conversely unchanging roads and alleys that frame it. Some, like the infamous Doyers Street, are able to be traced back to the late 19th century. Others, like Pell Street, have only become recently recognizable due to its exposure on film and television.

In any case, if you ever find yourself wandering around Canal Street with little to do but learn about Chinatown’s history and people (as is frequently the case), the only thing you need to do is follow the streets. Here are a 5 notable alleys to check out: