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Historically, steam vessels ran along the Hudson River, connecting the Hudson Valley with New York City to bring visitors to the natural and cultural resources of both areas. As the Hudson Valley struggles with the post-industrial transition of other rust belt regions, an enterprising and little-known project with a passionate team aims to reconnect the valley with its strategic waterway. Just this week, America’s oldest surviving passenger steamer made the first leg of its journey from Detroit to New York City for service on the Hudson River, functioning as a floating mobile museum and cultural space and restoring a historical transportation link.

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In the late 1800s to early 1950s, Ellis Island was the “Island of Hope,” the final gateway before immigrants could enter the new world. For others, it was the “Island of Tears,” for after so many braved the harsh and excruciating journey, they were turned back (some of them being forever separated from their loved ones), their dreams dashed right at the gates.

Starting, October 1st, Save Ellis Island and world renowned street artist JR are hosting, for the first time in history, an art exhibition inside the island’s abandoned South Side hospitalsWhile 10-20% of the 12 million immigrants to pass through Ellis Island were temporarily detained for health-related reasons, only the 1% with incurable contagious diseases was sent home. The success of the medical facility was due to cutting edge building design, top-level medical staff, and significant government support.

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Have you ever walked by a particularly strong stench at a street corner and suddenly had the urge to give it a closer smell to really dissect its nuances? Well, us neither. But a few brave pioneers have taken it upon themselves to create their own smellmaps, fascinating guides that showcase a city’s range of olfactory experiences. In this interactive New York Times map of Manhattan (from 2009 but still awesome), Jason Logan provides encyclopedic entries for each neighborhood’s smellscape.

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Washington D.C.-based tech start-up GreaterPlaces and civic organization DoTankDC are launching “Cards Against Urbanity” the Card Game for Horrible Places, a direct play on the famous Cards Against Humanity, a Party Game for Horrible People. The game aims to teach city planning and design by making fun of cities, suburbs, and the colorful cast of people, “because planning is hard and full of jargon and math.” While players make off-color jokes, they’re also learning about real urban planning issues and some of the terminology associated with discussing urbanism. (more…)

We’ve been noticing a fun trend recently. Plays, as in theater pieces, particularly about urban history and transformation. First there was The Eternal Space about the demolition of the original Penn Station. Now, the ever creative Jeff Stark behind Nonsense NYC and Empire Drive In movie theater, is doing a site-specific work about the Gowanus Canal. And it’s ever so timely because big changes are coming to Gowanus as it transforms from artist hotspot amidst industrial warehouses to superfund site with a newly renovated subway station at Smith-9th Street, a forthcoming “Sponge Park” and lots of development underway.

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