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Black Panthers film screening Untapped Cities Black History Month AFineLyne-.jpg.1280x720_q85Panthers on parade at Free Huey rally in Defremery Park, Oakland, July 28, 1968. image via theblackpanthers.com

The annual celebration of Black History Month is a time to recognize the achievements of African-Americans throughout the history of our country. It is also a time to remember the struggles for freedom and justice. The roots of this celebration take us back to 1915, when historian, Carter G. Woodson and minister, Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), known today as the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH). In 1926, this organization sponsored a national Negro History Week during the second week of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976.

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nyc-idiotarod-crazy5kruns-untappedA past Idiotarod race, which will take place next Saturday. Image via Gothamist

To end the first month of 2016, here are ten New York City events for people with all interests, ranging from literature and art to urban planning and exploration. Notably, next week, you’ll have the chance to meet the famous cat Lil Bub and compete in a satirical dogsled race. This week’s events also include book talks about the history of two different New York City neighborhoods, a trivia night, urban design panels and more!

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1-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Coretta-Scott-King-Mayor-Wagner-NYC-Untapped-CitiesMayor Robert F. Wagner shakes hands with Loretta Scott King. Photo via Library of Congress

On January 18, we will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Signed into law in January, 1983 by President Ronald Regan, this is a day we recognize the enormous contributions of Dr. King. It is also a day to reflect on how his contributions have helped to reshape our country, and a look back on his time in New York City.

Dr. King traveled to New York in 1958 to promote his book Stride Towards Freedom: The Montgomery Story, with a book signing at Harlem’s Blumenstein Department Store. This event was interrupted when a mentally unstable woman stabbed him. He was rushed to Harlem Hospital and underwent a successful operation. Dr. King returned to New York in 1963, by invitation of City College of New York President Buell Gallagher, who invited Dr. King to speak at the college’s commencement. At the time, Dr. King was buoyed by President Kennedy’s announcement that he would propose civil rights legislation in Congress. However the day of the commencement was met with tragedy, when Dr. King learned of the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi. He moved forward in what came to be a historic speech at the university on 136th Street, with a heavy heart.

In 1964, Dr. King was given the City of New York Medallion of Honor at an event at City Hall. At this event, Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. spoke these words, “This is not your city of residence, Dr. King, but it is your city nevertheless….We claim you, henceforth, as an honorary New Yorker.”  New York will begin the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this weekend, with activities leading up to his birthday on Monday.

Here are 10 ways you can celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this year in New York City:

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Woolworth Building-Lobby-Interior-Irving National Bank-Vault-Cass Gilbert-NYCThe Woolworth Building lobby, which you can see on this week’s tour

Once again, we have a host of informative and exciting events planned out for you this week. To start the week off, New York City has plenty of events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, such as a historic walking tour of Harlem or reenactments of the 26th United States Colored Troops. For the chance to learn about the obscure secrets of two of New York City’s iconic buildings, we have our popular tours, The Secrets of the Woolworth Building and The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal, taking place next weekend.

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Secrets of Coney Island Tour-Untapped Cities-Justin Rivers-Brooklyn-NYCPhoto via Mike Scully

Titled America’s first playground, Coney Island was a small strip of sand on Brooklyn’s south coast that became synonymous with the burlesque, the bizarre, the outlandish and the corrupt. Join, author, playwright and Untapped Cities tour guide, Justin Rivers, in a new Untapped Cities tour, The Secrets of Coney Island: Past, Present, Future, & Unknown, as you trace the steps of the two main characters from his graphic novel, The Wonder City: The Great Whale of Coney Island on their visit one hot summer in 1942. Through their eyes you’ll see what Coney Island was like at the height of its mid-century popularity. You’ll unearth old secrets of the many long-gone amusement parks, while learning about what’s in store for the hotly contested future development of the island.

Our first tour is scheduled for April 9th:

Castello Plan 1660-Map-New Amsterdam-NYC

We’re excited to announce a new tour for 2016: The Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam, Tracing the Castello Plan. Although virtually nothing remains of Dutch New Amsterdam, the Dutch influence is felt in many hidden relics south of Wall Street. This includes the massive one hidden in plain sight: the original street grid embedded in lower Manhattan grid today.

Join author, playwright, and Untapped Cities guide, Justin Rivers (who also leads our Remnants of Penn Station tour), complete with Manhattan’s first map in hand as you trace the streets of Manhattan in 1667. You’ll hear about New York’s founding myths and facts while standing in the very spots they all happened. Tour highlights include a look at the remains of Manhattan’s first City Hall, a walk of the city’s original coast line, discovering the original Dutch fort, wind mill, and the original battery. Physically touch history as we also spend time finding out why Bowling Green has its name and why it’s been so important in our city’s history.

Join us for this walking tour: