Untapped Cities-Fort Totten-Anna BrownImage of Fort Totten Park Battery via Flickr by skingld

Every New Yorker should experience the standard Halloween parades in Greenwich Village and Central Park at least once (we supposed), but for those looking for something a little different this October, here are our top picks. And while we’re still awaiting news on whether our favorite event, the Cobble Hill pumpkin impalement by artist Jane Greengold is happening this year, there’s still a lot of alternative, off-the-beaten path activities to choose from.

1. Blackout Haunted House


Untapped Cities contributor Luke Kingma passed through the Blackout Haunted House in 2012, and came out completely petrified. At the beginning of the tour , he was asked to sign a waiver allowing “the actors to do (almost) everything short of killing, maiming or abusing you.” He was separated from his friends and went through the house alone, placed in a variety of “traumatizing” scenarios that he states will “make you question why it is you came, and what it is you have (or haven’t) actually done during your stay.” Read his full article here, and get tickets for this year’s house located on 442 East Houston Street.

2. 2014 HallowMEME Costume Party

hallowmeme-anna brown-untapped citiesImage via Brooklyn Based by Kelly Reeves

On Thursday, October 30th at 8:30 pm, the HallowMEME Costume Party will kick off at the Brooklyn Bell House venue. Those attending will dress as their favorite internet memes, with last year’s participants showing up in their interpretations of “Hot Dogs or Legs?,” “Texts from Hillary,” and “Shiba Confessions.” RSVP your spot here.

3. Halloween in the Crypt

NY Adventure Club-Gala-Jazz-Halloween in the Crypt-NYC-Church of the Intercession-Harlem

The historic crypt underneath the Church of the Intercession has hosted everything from movie shoots to jazz nights, including an exclusive fan concert for the 2012 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. The New York Adventure Club will be returning to the space with a Halloween costume dance party featuring a Roaring ’20s live brass band, unlimited beer and wine, and a costume competition hosted by Reverend Jen of the Troll Museum. Tickets here.

4. Tompkins Square Park Village Dog Parade

Untapped Cities-Dog Parade-Anna BrownImage via Flickr by Sara Bogush

Hundreds of dogs and their owners came to this event last year to see and be seen in the largest dog costume parade in the world. This year, the fun begins on October 25th at 12:00 pm in Tompkins Square Park. Dress Fido up to compete with other dogs for thousands of dollars in prizes!

5. Fort Totten Park Haunted Lantern Tours

Fort Totten_Matt Lambros_Urban Exploration_Untapped Cities_NYC-5Image by Matt Lambros/After the Final Curtain

Located in Bayside, Queens, the Fort Totten Park is the site of a Civil War era fortress constructed in 1862 for a wide variety of military purposes. By 1974 the military no longer used the space, and beginning in 2005 it opened as a park for the public.  On Friday, October 24th at 6:30 pm, Urban Park Rangers will give lantern-lit tours of the water battery located along the park’s edge. Civil War Captain Robert E. Lee proposed the battery’s construction in 1957 to defend the New York Harbor, and visitors can still see inscriptions soldiers carved in the walls while stationed there. For more historic buildings, check out our articles on The Forts of NYC and 20 Abandoned Places in NYC.

6. Crest Arts 5th Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

Crest Pumpkin-anna brown-untapped citiesImage via Crest Hardware

On Saturday, October 18th, Crest Hardware on 558 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn is hosting a pumpkin carving contest to raise money for its annual art show. Participants enter their best works of pumpkin art between 6:30 and 7 pm for a chance at the prestigious winning title.

7. Dark Disco at 88 Palace

Tiki Disco-Dark Disco-88 Palace-Chinatown-Forsyth-Halloween-NYCPhotograph: Grace Chu

An electro party in a dim sum place in Chinatown? We can assure you that this is where you’ll find us this Halloween. Enter after-hours through the bizarro mini mall under the Manhattan Bridge. In “Tiki Disco, a special Halloween edition, the usual eclectic, top-notch set of dance tunes are promised from DJs Eli Escobar, Andy Pry and Lloydski, with a few spooky jams thrown in for good measure. Tickets here.

8. Storefront for Art and Architecture’s Critical Halloween Costume Contest

Each year the non-profit Storefront for Art and Architecture hosts a costume contest that addresses critical concepts, or
“the most feared ghosts,” in art and architectural production today. This year’s theme will be “I-Relevance,” which according to the Storefront’s website, will ask “artists, architects, writers, and citizens to address the concept of Irrelevance within contemporary culture and contemporary digital platforms.Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young wrote about last year’s competition here. Get your tickets for this year’s competition on the Storefront’s website.

9. Boroughs of the Dead Tours

Image via Boroughs of the Dead

Boroughs of the Dead is a tour company that specializes in New York City’s most occult spaces. For the month of October, tours offered will include Edgar Allen Poe’s West Village, haunted Brooklyn Heights, Ghosts of Broadway and Hells Kitchen, and the secrets of Central Park. Visit the website for the full calendar, and check out our Top 7 Most Haunted Spots of Lower Manhattan. Following our successful joint tours with Boroughs of the Dead this year, we’ll be hosting more events together in 2014. Stay tuned!

10. A Spirited Stroll Through Green-Wood Cemetery

On Sunday, October 26th at 1 pm, historian Jeff Richmond will be giving a “spirited stroll” of the Green-Wood Cemetery in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, which serves as the resting place of 560,000 deceased who include Civil War veterans, Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Samuel Morse. The walk will include a tour of the Catacombs, which are normally closed to the public. More photos of the beautiful grounds can be seen here, and check out our article on a map of the cemetery’s vast 478 acres.

Any events that we missed? Contact Anna Brown via her Twitter handle @brooklynbonanza.

Comic Book Shops-Untapped Cities-Lists-Comic Con-NYCPhoto via SuperRadNow)

If you happen to be riding the train, or going out to get lunch this weekend and you happen to see Batman and The Joker sharing a sandwich; or Superman and Wonder Woman being a little too friendly don’t worry. New York City hasn’t driven you insane–it’s Comic-Con weekend. NYCC has become the second most popular comics convention behind “THE” con in San Diego. With that reputation, thousands of people from around the country have made the journey to NYC, to meet up with fellow nerds for the love of all things pop culture.

It comes as no surprise to us that in less than a decade since it first started, we are home to the second biggest comics convention in the United States. Comic book and nerd culture is rampant in NYC, with the many comic book readers who reside here visiting their favorite comic shop every Wednesday. With so many comic book shops in the city, which ones really stand out? If you were 2.7 seconds too late to get tickets to Comic-Con this year like so many of us sad nerds, let us help feed your you fulfill your comic book needs with this list of the best comic shops in NYC. (more…)

We previously rounded up 8 beautiful historic districts in Manhattan that were smaller than a block and we decided it was time to look at all of New York City. All the boroughs except Staten Island have historic districts smaller than a city block, as defined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We’ll go in order, from the smallest number of houses in the district.

1. Hardenbergh/Rhindelander Historic District, Upper East Side, Manhattan

Hardenbergh Rhinelander Historic District-Upper East Side-89th Street-Lexington

This little historic district is really just a corner at the northwest corner of 89th Street and Lexington Avenue. In addition to this set of 6 buildings along Lexington Avenue, the district includes one narrow townhouse at 121 E. 89th Street. According to Ephemeral New York, Henry Hardenbergh, who designed the homes, “also designed the Dakota and the original Waldorf-Astoria on 34th Street.”



As riders of the New York City City, we’re all familiar with the rats and supposed mole-people, the trash and mold, and have come to ignore–or accept–the many unpleasantries of the NYC subway. What we often forget is that the MTA had originally planned for a ride on the subway to be a luxurious experience, as evidenced by the glorious (and decommissioned) City Hall subway station. By combining art and technology, New Yorkers back in 1904 had high hopes for their new underground.

The original Interborough Rapid Transit Company pulled in artists to create civic works specifically to enhance the subway experience. At the time of the international Arts and Crafts Movement, architects and artists designed ceramic ornament for subway signage. The signs not only announced the name of the stop, but planners also hoped that color, design elements, and eventually illustrations would be recognizable by non-English speakers so that they could orient themselves. Most of the tile designs were done by Heins & LaFarge (1901–1907) and Squire Vickers (1906–1942).

There are constantly additions being made by artists, local schools, and others, but we’re sharing with you some of our favorite original Arts and Crafts/Beaux Arts-style ceramics from around when the subway first opened in 1904:


New York City has historically looked to Europe for architectural inspiration, particularly in the Beaux-Arts and City Beautiful eras. The penchant for monumental arches has its roots in the great works of France, Italy, Greece, England and other countries. The arches in New York City form the gateways to numerous well-known landmarks in the city, but first we thought we would begin with the arches that are now lost.

1. Madison Square Park Victory Arch

Victory Arch-Flatiron District-NYC-UntappedImage via Library of Congress


Fordham-armory-untapped-nycArmory Hall at Fordham University. Image via Fordham.edu

New York City’s historic armories can be seen all around the city, and are currently used for all kinds of purposes in addition to some that retain their original function. They were built between the 18th and 20th centuries for New York State volunteer militia, serving as storage of arms and housing. These monumental fortresses were meant to remind the public of the military’s might and ability to maintain domestic law. Thankfully for us, the militia took great care in designing their fortresses and we have been left with remarkable armories that remind us of an important time in our city’s history. Some still function as National Guard posts, but many have been repurposed since the mid 20th century.

Here is a list of the remaining armories in the five boroughs of New York City.