A message from Untapped Cities founder, Michelle Young:
Some people change the entire trajectory of your life. For me, Columbia University professor and architect Mojdeh Baratloo was perhaps the single most important figure in my career, and what I’ve never written about before is how Untapped Cities owes much to her.
I launched Untapped New York as a WordPress blog in June 2009, with a short post about a DIY mini golf course in Bushwick built in a vacant lot. In September 2009, I began my graduate program at Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in the New York/Paris program (later in Urban Planning). Moji was my urban studies studio teacher.
The way in which I see cities today, how I train our writers to look differently at their everyday urban environment for secret gems, layers of history, the quirks that others miss, comes from Moji’s development of my eye.
She was an early supporter of Untapped Cities, pushing me to do more, to explore my academic studies through the lens of Untapped. Whenever I fell back into complacency with my graduate work, she would call me to say she had been thinking about me. Why make Powerpoint presentations when I could use Untapped Cities as a platform and voice for open source research and public discussion?
Prohibition NYC – Untapped Cities from Will Ellis Media.
Bravo chefs Rob McCue and Adam C. Banks only do one event per year, so when we say that they go all out, we mean it. Take last year’s Dine Titanic event for example. In order to recreate the last supper of the Titanic (with modern twists), McCue and Banks had to locate some hard to find food, leading to an epic three month search for sturgeon. For Prohibition NYC, they pored over vintage menus from places like Delmonico’s and Harry’s Bar. They hired actors to play flappers and temperance women. The ’20s era band, Dewdrop Society played tunes in the Back Room, and attendees spontaneously began to swing.
Two days before the event, the chefs gave guests only a street intersection in the Lower East Side and when attendees arrived, flappers ushered them down the alleyway of the Back Room, whereupon they were summarily confronted by the angry women’s temperance movement picketing with signs that read, “Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours,” “Alcohol = poison,” and “You are the public enemy.”
Inside the Back Room, one of New York City’s most famous speakeasy cocktail bars (with the added bonus of actually housing an speakeasy during Prohibition), is the elusive “back room of the Back Room.” At the Prohibition NYC event, VIP guests had a chance to party inside this mythic space which has its own bar, Prohibition era memorabilia, and a very unauthentic period flat screen TV.
But the “real” secret Back Room was located where the chefs prepared the food for the event. Inside, there was a creepy barber shop, a bathtub and a coffin! (it’s reportedly used for a regular mystery film shoot).
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.
While the New York Public Library’s landmark building near Bryant Park will undergo extensive remodeling in the near future, let’s go over some fun facts of this prominent Beaux-Arts architecture.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was built on the site of the old Croton Reservoir at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The Reservoir was completed in 1842 to hold water from the Croton River and torn down by the 1890s, and by 1902 the cornerstone was laid for the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Now you can still see the remains of the reservoir from the lower levels of the South Court (the red, rough bricks under the staircases.)
When the building completed construction in 1911, it was the largest marble building ever built in the U.S. at the time. With exterior marble facing 12 inches thick and cornerstone weighting 7.5 tons, the building uses 530,000 cubic feet of white Vermont marble, which was more than six times the marble used in the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Chamber of Commerce combined.
The Main Hall of the Library
Prominently situated in the Morningside Heights neighborhood overlooking the park, the Church of Notre Dame has an interesting history and a unique architectural background, namely a grotto replica inspired by the site where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes.
The church was first erected in 1910 as a chapel and as part of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul’s mission. It was first operated by the Fathers of Mercy, who were a French community of priests and in 1915, Cardinal Farley dedicated the church. The church was later entrusted to the Archdiocese of New York in 1960, which led to a transition of responsibility and further expansion of the parish membership. A guiding principal of the church is to actively elicit the community’s influence and participation, which attribute to the diversity of the parish’s fabric. Notre Dame is associated with St. Luke’s Hospital as well as Columbia University. Columbia University was included in the church’s pastoral mission in 1988, leading to the first appointment of a Pastor of Notre Dame to the Catholic Chaplain at Columbia. Then lastly, the parish was transitioned to the Polish Province of the Dominican Order in 2003.
The exterior of the Church of Note Dame overlooking Morningside Park.
Join us for a special event inside the gorgeous French Embassy on 5th Avenue and 79th Street next Thursday, May 2nd from 6:30-8:30pm. In “Parisians vs. New Yorkers,” Untapped Cities invites audience members, Twitter followers and Google Hangout attendees to imagine scenes in NYC and Paris, which will then be live drawn by illustrators David Cessac (Paris), Kit Mills (NYC) and The Downtown Doodler (NYC). Special guest, Becky Cooper, author of Mapping Manhattan will be moderating. The event is FREE, RSVP here:
Refreshments provided by Le Palais des Thes.
Here’s how else you can get involved:
- Submit ideas via Twitter using the hashtag #ParisNY
- Submit street scenes from NYC or Paris on Instagram with the hashtags #ParisNY and #UntappedCities (check out live submissions here)
- For our non-NYC readers, you can join in on the fun on Google Hangout Thursday, May 2nd (URL of Google Hangout to be updated day of event.
Untapped Cities artists will be on hand at the “Parisians v. New Yorkers” event, selling autographed art and books like, Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, NYC and Paris MacStix stickers for your Macbook, and art from our Society6 shop.