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Masonic-hall-grand-lodge-room-nyc-untappedThe Grand Lodge Room

We’ve always been curious about the Freemasons, and even more so about the Grand Lodge of New York situated on a bustling 23rd street in Chelsea. So that we could learn about the the ancient and mysterious fraternal order without joining, we toured their Masonic Hall, home to the Grand Lodge of New York (more formally the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons). Often thought of as a secret society, they actually boast a large flag in the middle of Manhattan and insist “Our big secret is that we have no secrets.” Nevertheless, no one is really sure of what goes on in this grand Masonic Hall unless they’re “in.”

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JR-Untapped Cities-Anna Brown12

Walking the hallways of an abandoned hospital would give anyone shivers. But what if throughout the tour, apparitions from times past unexpectedly appeared in the adjoining rooms, windows, and staircases? We visited the South Side hospital complex on Ellis Island, the site of Unframed, an installation by Parisian street artist JR that opened on October 1st.

Artist JR is known for his large scale photographs in places accessible to the public view, like New York City’s Times Squarethe Pantheon in Paris, and the favelas of Brazil. The hospital site has been off-limits to the public, apart from special visits like our coverage for the 2012 Partners in Preservation campaign. For a short time, it will only be accessible through a  guided “hard-hat” tour.  The tours are capped at 10 people and tickets are sold out thorough November, but tickets are still available into April 2015. So why would JR choose such an exclusive site that requires a hard-won reservation to visit?

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Proposal for The Queensway

Today’s most popular reads: 35 Photos from Inside the Demolition at 5 Pointz Street Art HavenBest Central Asian Restaurants in NYC: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and UzbekistanInsane Instagrammer Takes Photo Atop 432 Park Construction, Tallest Residential Building in NYC

Explore NYC Parks-Take Me On An Adventure-NYC BIg Apps-2

Did you know that New York City has over 1,900 parks? And 1/5 of the city’s land is devoted to green space. But with parks under so many different jurisdictions, ranging from city, state, national to private, it can be tricky figuring out what park is the right one for your particular adventure, especially if you’re not headed to one of the big dogs like Central Park or Prospect Park.  One of the grand prize winners of this year’s NYC BigApps competition is Explore NYC Parks, an app and website developed by a 26-year old developer to solve just that.

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5Pointz-Interior Demolition-Rooftop-StreetArt-Long Island City-Queens-Urban Exploration-NYCFall 2014-0185Pointz from 3rd floor of demolition. Photo by franklyfrank

The last time we heard from urban explorer __Macgyver and his crew, they were creating pyrotechnic fire art in New York City’s abandoned subway stations. This time, they’ve hit up the demolition at the beloved street art haven, 5Pointz which was whitewashed last year. In an evening raid, __MacgyverMr_Dume, Jenyc_photography, _Fabricios_franklyfrank and thompsonlxs_ capture what they describe to us as “a last hoorah” for 5Pointz. According to __Macgyver, 5Pointz “literally looked like it was blown away by a tornado.” Yet some of the street art was still intact. With a central building already down and the rest prepared for the wrecking ball, it is likely that 5Pointz will come down imminently.

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Ansonia Apartments - New YorkThe Ansonia about 1904, image via Library of Congress

If there is one building that epitomizes the Upper West Side’s bohemian origins, it just might be The Ansonia with its rather scandalous and off-beat reputation. The Ansonia has been home to such a wide range of characters–from Babe Ruth to Igor Stravinsky to Natalie Portman–that it’s not surprising what an illustrious backstory it has. We decided to take a look back at a wonderful feature from New York Magazine in 2005 that revisits the ups and downs of the historic building (which had 1,400 rooms and 320 suites!) and share with you some of the most wild facts about the building.

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