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Paris-based photojournalist Steven Wassenaar, a contributor to Untapped Cities who previously showed us life amidst war on the border of Syria and Lebanon, shared with us this photo series he took three years ago at an editorial meeting in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine attacked on the morning of January 7th, 2015. When we saw these images Wednesday afternoon, it brought to life the individual tragedies that now form the raison d’etre for the solidarity expressed on the global stage. It seemed only fitting a few hours later to see New Yorkers and French expatriates put faces to the tragedy in a gathering in Union Square on Wednesday night. Photographs of the eyes of the victims, printed in a style reminiscent of French artist JR’s “Women are Heroes” in the Providência favela of Rio de Janeiro, were held up. “Je Suis Charlie” signs and chants of “We are Charlie” echoed.

Je Suis Charlie-Charlie Hebdo-2014- Union Square-NYC-Yana Bannikova‎Photo by Yana Bannikova

Maybe this expression has prominence because the victims were public figures, or because the messages of Charlie Hebdo were consumed by a collective nation. But it gives us pause as journalists. How can we strive to make reporting of such tragedies more than just numbers?

Charlie Hebdo Headquarters-Paris-Editorial Meeting-Steven Wassenaar-009All four artists killed are present here (Stéphane Charbonnier also known as Charb, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabu et Tignous also known as Bernard Verlhac)

At Untapped Cities, a good percentage of our team is from France–either living there or working here in the United States, including illustrator David Cessac who passed in 2014. We are Charlie too, and we hope this photo series from Steven Wassenaar inside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo can highlight even more, the people lost yesterday. Incredibly, Charlie Hebdo will release its next issue on schedule, with an increased print run of 1 million copies next Wednesday.


Shoe Shine Stand-6th Avenue-Diamond District-Midtown-Humor-Funny Signs-NYC-001

Our friends at Narratively have a great in-depth piece on one of the official shoe shiners of the Grand Central Partnership and it reminded us of the makeshift shoe shine stand on 6th Avenue we photographed back in December. And we took a look at whether shoe shining stands like this one need licenses from the city to operate.


Three Kings Day Parade- Museo el Bario-NYC

Welcome to 2015! Here are our top 10 event picks for NYC this week, including the launch of several art and film festivals, great NYC Parks department tours and a day to design your own Central Park.

Monday, January 5

The COIL Festival by P.S. 122 is back with its 10th iteration, celebrating the vitality of live performance.  Tonight, check out RoosElvis, where “the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt battle over the soul of Ann” and the daily “yawn” in Times Square at midnight.


A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending Bronx photographer Dondre Green’s photo exhibition Bronx Narratives. The exhibit featured photographs of people both living and visiting the Bronx, all giving Green short anecdotes of their time in the home of the best pizza in the city; Green’s goal with the photo series and exhibit was to shed a light on New York City’s most northern borough, one with a rich history that many feel is becoming forgotten with all the attention paid to Brooklyn and Manhattan. During the exhibit, Green shared a short documentary where he spoke to various residents of The Bronx. The documentary is the second installment of his Bronx Narratives series; the people featured in this documentary short are all from various backgrounds, bringing to light the diversity the Bronx still has over many other parts of New York.


Ken Schles-East Village-Lower East Side-Night Walks-Photography-1980s-NYC.27 AMView from 224 Avenue B. Photo by Ken Schles.

Ken Schles lived in an abandoned building in the East Village in the 1980s, photographing and witnessing drugs and AIDS destroy the people he knew. While the nature of vintage photography often lends itself towards nostalgia for an earlier era, Schles actively fights such characterization of the East Village. As the New York Times writes:


At Untapped Cities, we have a “Daily What?!” series, which consists of one surprising thing every weekday. The column keeps us on our toes at all times looking for quirky New York City stuff. We’ll admit that on some days, we’re stumped, but that rarely happens. To catch you up, here are the Top 10 Daily What?!s of 2014 on Untapped Cities:

25. The Secret Entrance to the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square Subway