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The New York Subway system opened to the public for the first time on October 27th, 1904 and changed the face of mass transit in the city forever. Today, it takes no less than 40 minutes to travel up Manhattan from South Ferry to Washington Heights two hundred blocks away (that is, if you take the right train), a journey that would would normally be five times as long on foot.

It’s a 24-hour system that ferries you and millions of New Yorkers around the city every day, but you may be unaware of the technology behind it. Did you know one of the main subway traffic controllers is housed in the West 4th Street station? Did you know that much of the machinery used to monitor the trains dates back to the 1950s and earlier? In an exclusive video exploring the antiquated system behind subway control, the MTA showcases its very old, very outdated, but still effective technology, and looks to the future of the subway commute with a brand new method of monitoring traffic. That method is called communications-based train control, and, once implemented in trains all over the city, will finally modernize the subway.

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Yesterday was National Hot Dog Day and we randomly caught the unveiling of the latest Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, this one a miniature version of the large touring hot dog shaped vehicle. Spotted in Hudson River Park, the remote control “Weiner Rover” (with license plate WNR ROVR) was actually getting its own video shoot. The Weiner Rover opens up to reveal, you guessed it, hot dogs. There were even some slots for those necessary condiments, ketchup and mustard.

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plaza hotel secrets theplazany.com-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via theplazany.com

At the corner of Central Park sits a French Chateau. At least, that’s what the original developers of New York City’s Plaza Hotel, Bernhard Beinecke, hotelier Fred Sterry, and Harry S. Black, President of the Fuller Construction Company, intended when they spent $12 million building a 19-story ‘skyscraper’ hotel near the Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan. The Plaza Hotel, the only hotel in the city to be named a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1907. Papers hailed it at the time as the greatest hotel in the world. It was certainly the most luxurious, boasting its breathtaking glass-ceilinged Palm Court, its 1,650 crystal chandeliers, and its gold-encrusted china, the largest order from L. Straus & Sons in history.

The Plaza Hotel is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in the city, now over a hundred years old. For decades, it was the meeting place of Manhattan’s wealthiest socialites, and still remains, in some part, today. Most interesting to us though in its 100 year history are some of its most eye-catching secrets. Here’s what we dug up:

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hudson-yards-nyc-public-square-aerial-dv-102012Image via Curbed New York

Here’s what the Untapped Cities staff is reading in the HQ today:

 

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City Hall Subway Station-Before Opening-NYC 1904-2The original City Hall subway station in New York City

By reading first-hand accounts of opening day of the New York City subway, October 27, 1904, you get a picture of the excitement, madness, and sheer feat the construction of the underground system was. The first subway line, the Interborough Rapid Transit, ran from the glorious City Hall subway station (now decommissioned) to 145th Street, proclaiming “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes,” though as you’ll discover, even the first day wasn’t without delaeys.

Here are some of the fun facts that we found from reading reports from The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune about opening day:

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freshkils park-NYC-Untapped CitiesFreshkills Park. Image via freshkillspark.org

August is upon us! Ring out the last few days of July with the return of Shakespeare in the Park, a march through the NYC Department of Records, National Cheesecake Day, and the Freshkills Park Discovery Day.

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