Charlie Hebdo Headquarters-Paris-Editorial Meeting-Steven Wassenaar-018

Paris-based photojournalist Steven Wassenaar, a contributor to Untapped Cities who previously showed us life amidst war on the border of Syria and Lebanon, shared with us this photo series he took three years ago at an editorial meeting in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine attacked on the morning of January 7th, 2015. When we saw these images Wednesday afternoon, it brought to life the individual tragedies that now form the raison d’etre for the solidarity expressed on the global stage. It seemed only fitting a few hours later to see New Yorkers and French expatriates put faces to the tragedy in a gathering in Union Square on Wednesday night. Photographs of the eyes of the victims, printed in a style reminiscent of French artist JR’s “Women are Heroes” in the Providência favela of Rio de Janeiro, were held up. “Je Suis Charlie” signs and chants of “We are Charlie” echoed.

Je Suis Charlie-Charlie Hebdo-2014- Union Square-NYC-Yana Bannikova‎Photo by Yana Bannikova

Maybe this expression has prominence because the victims were public figures, or because the messages of Charlie Hebdo were consumed by a collective nation. But it gives us pause as journalists. How can we strive to make reporting of such tragedies more than just numbers?

Charlie Hebdo Headquarters-Paris-Editorial Meeting-Steven Wassenaar-009All four artists killed are present here (Stéphane Charbonnier also known as Charb, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabu et Tignous also known as Bernard Verlhac)

At Untapped Cities, a good percentage of our team is from France–either living there or working here in the United States, including illustrator David Cessac who passed in 2014. We are Charlie too, and we hope this photo series from Steven Wassenaar inside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo can highlight even more, the people lost yesterday. Incredibly, Charlie Hebdo will release its next issue on schedule, with an increased print run of 1 million copies next Wednesday.


Located in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, the watchtower originally cost $2,300 in 1857

Located in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, the watchtower originally cost $2,300 in 1857

As the only surviving watchtower of the original thirteen dotting Manhattan, we have been paying particular attention to the much anticipated renovation of the Harlem Fire Watchtower.  Built between 1855 and 1857, it was the only way to spot fires and sound an alert until electric telegraphs were installed in 1878. The watchtower is located at the highest part of the Acropolis in the center of Marcus Garvey Park, which was rebuilt as part of the WPA jobs program. The cast iron structure was built by Julius H. Kroehl and designed by James Bogardus at a cost of $2,300. The bell inside weights 10,000 pounds alone .

Age and weather have taken their toll, bringing together a community effort to raise the funds for a restoration. Scaffolding started going up this past December and the dismantling will begin this month. Each piece will be labeled, crated and moved to a storage facility in Queens by Nicholson & Galloway, Inc. with Allen Architectual Metals consulting.


Central Park Before-1980s-Central Park Conservancy-NYCBelvedere Castle then

Yesterday, Gothamist had a great photo series on what Central Park looked like in the 1980s (tough times) versus now. For those who have never seen anything but a glorious Central Park, the images may come as a shocker. The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 and is currently celebrating its 35th Anniversary. The first thing they did back in the 80s? President Doug Blonsky tells Gothamist, “re-sodding the Sheep Meadow, restoring the Dairy, planting American Elms, getting rid of graffiti, and fixing broken benches.”


Shoe Shine Stand-6th Avenue-Diamond District-Midtown-Humor-Funny Signs-NYC-001

Our friends at Narratively have a great in-depth piece on one of the official shoe shiners of the Grand Central Partnership and it reminded us of the makeshift shoe shine stand on 6th Avenue we photographed back in December. And we took a look at whether shoe shining stands like this one need licenses from the city to operate.


Loews Canal Street Theater-Abandoned-Chinatown-After the Final Curtain-Matt Lambros-19

Untapped Cities contributor Matt Lambros of After the Final Curtain has a new article on his website about the abandoned Loew’s Canal Theater at 31 Canal Street, closed since the 1950s. It has a fascinating history and gorgeous interior, designed by the famous theater architect Thomas Lamb who did many of the forgotten theaters of upper Broadway  and the Empire theater on 42nd Street (now the AMC Empire).


Three Kings Day Parade- Museo el Bario-NYC

Welcome to 2015! Here are our top 10 event picks for NYC this week, including the launch of several art and film festivals, great NYC Parks department tours and a day to design your own Central Park.

Monday, January 5

The COIL Festival by P.S. 122 is back with its 10th iteration, celebrating the vitality of live performance.  Tonight, check out RoosElvis, where “the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt battle over the soul of Ann” and the daily “yawn” in Times Square at midnight.