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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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The L.I.S.A. Project

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Surprised that’s paper? We were too when we checked out artist Christina Lihan’s free exhibit “Constructions” at the Citigroup Center at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. Lihan, of Lihan Studio, creates replicas of famous buildings, bridges, and cityscapes by hand-cutting paper. She doesn’t paint them, but uses the thickness of watercolor paper to make these 3-dimensional. Lihan patiently cuts, folds, and forms every detail of a building to create these scenes that put architecture in a new light.

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UntappedCities-Water-St-Downtown-NYC-Runway-Biplane-Roof-Nasha VirataPhoto by ScoutingNY/WSJ

Exceptions such as the Chrysler Building aside, New York City’s office buildings are often lackluster while many the Private Owned Public Spaces (POPS), a city zoning regulation, are equally if not even more uninspired. Melvyn Kaufman, developer of many Midtown and Financial District skyscrapers disagreed. The New York Times called him an “oddball”, while others saw him as a “sly urban prankster.” Kaufman hated the International Style office lobbies, calling them “marble and travertine mausoleums” which were not just boring but also “bad for the living and terrific for the dead.” He wanted more than that and with a famous hands-on approach with his architects, he made it happen.

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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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Video via Kickstarter

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…)