Many of Untapped Cities’ writers and photographers revel in accessing New York City’s off-limits spots, but often, incredible remnants of urban archeology are hidden in plain sight. Our popular Remnants of Penn Station tour reveals what still persists despite a massive demolition more than 50 years ago, but another subterranean transit spot uses art to highlight former history. Walking through the Union Square subway station, you may notice bright red outlines scattered throughout. More than mere decoration, the color intervention is part of a 1998 MTA Arts & Design commission, “Framing Union Square” by Mary Miss.


Over the last five years, we’ve been documenting the construction along the Second Avenue Subway. On our second visit, we went deep into the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street stop and in 2015 we revealed the new “Lex 63” lettering on the tiles of the station. Now, as reported by Second Avenue Sagas and 6Sqft, a videographer happened to catch some test trains heading down the tracks yesterday. The Second Avenue subway track was behind a construction wall for years along the active platform, but a public area was recently opened. DJ Hammers, aka Max Diamond, writes that he captured the video from this public area between the two levels of the station.


r179-subway-car-testing-207th-street-railyard-mta-2016Photo via New York Transit Museum

You know those old C trains with the ribbed metal pattern on the outside and gray seats on the inside? Often the air conditioning is broken and the cars make for a jerky ride. Well, the future is finally here in the form of the R179 train, long delayed and over budget. The first set of cars arrived for testing at the Overhaul Shop in the 207th Street Rail Yard in Inwood last week, as posted to Instagram by the New York Transit Museum. The first car, #3014 was delivered on September 6th.



In 2015, artist Ingrid Burrington released a handy illustrated pocket guide to the cryptic symbols you see spray painted on the city’s streets. She raised money for its publication on Kickstarter (our team eagerly bought a copy) and the attention over the project led to a new edition under Melville House Publishing, titled Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure which was just released on August 30th.


Robert Moses Jane Jacobs-NYC-A Marvelous Order-Opera

Much has been written about the “what” and the “where” of Robert Moses’ grand vision and achievements – the bridges, the parkways, the beaches, the pools, the dams, and the mass housing projects have all been thoroughly dissected by many authors and historians. However, much less has been written about the “how”, the “why”, and the “what if.” How was he able to be the most powerful unelected official in our country’s history? Why did he favor the automobile and turn his back on mass transit? What if he hadn’t built the infrastructure, for better or worse, that New Yorkers deal with everyday?

BLDZR: The Gospel According to Moses, is a rock musical that explores the intimate tale of this man, and through his triumphs, his loves, and his losses reveals a highly-intelligent, complex, yet deeply-flawed individual whose legacy in cement and steel will shape the New York landscape for years to come. Untapped Cities previously reviewed its first debut earlier this year, and we called is “supremely entertaining.” This fall, the show will return to the Triad Theater on West 72nd Street for a three night run on October 20th, 21st and 22nd. Tickets are available here.


Front Page SATop half of the front page of Scientific American’s first edition published on Thursday, August 28, 1845. Image source Wikipedia Commons

On August 28, 1845 the first edition of Scientific American was published at 11 Spruce Street by 19th century Renaissance man, Rufus Porter.

The magazine, still in circulation today, started as the New York Mechanic in 1841 with the subtitle,  “The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise and Journal of Mechanical and Other Improvements.” Porter bought a share of the magazine and moved it to Boston changing the name to American Mechanic. In 1845 he moved his operations back down to New York City and did a complete rebranding of the magazine calling it Scientific American. Although it was also published concurrently in Boston and Philadelphia, Porter’s Spruce Street office was considered the magazine’s headquarters.