spook-a-rama-virtual-reality-joel-zika-coney-island-brooklyn-nyc-untapped-cities-shervinImage via Joel Zika/Dark Ride Project

The click, click of the rails rings ominously in your ears as your cart approaches the foreboding doors of the entrance. The doors creak open, and you enter a spooky realm where darkness and dim lights permeate every corner of your surroundings. Over the course of your ride you will encounter a motley of ghouls and spooks that will elicits gasps and shrieks; ghosts jump out from behind walls, monsters lurk around corners, vampires emerge from coffins—all part of the dark rides of amusement parks.

Once a cornerstone of amusement parks around the world, the number of haunted house rides has drastically dropped from the 1,700+ rides that existed globally in the mid to late 20th century; currently, only 18 of those original rides exist, with many more closing each year.

Australian university lecturer, Joel Zika, who has studied amusement park dark rides for the past decade, and is working on the Dark Ride Project, employing virtual reality to capture these rides all around the world. Using a 3-camera rig mounted to the carriage, Mr. Zika has filmed historic haunted house rides in Australia, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, and Delaware—thus allowing people to experience these rides through the wonderful technology of virtual reality.

Up next on Mr. Zika’s list is the Spook-a-rama at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park on Coney Island.


gem-spa-st-marks-place-east-village-james-and-karla-murray-storefront-photography-nyc-001Photo by James and Karla Murray, as seen in the book Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York

On Sunday, October 9th at 12pm, Untapped Cities will host the tour STOREFRONT: A HISTORIC EAST VILLAGE FOOD TOUR, led by photographers and authors James and Karla Murray. This visit will cover the  food, history and diverse culture of the East Village while tasting delicious specialties from at least 6 different tasting stops.

Below, James and Karla have written a piece for us about one of those stops, Gem Spa:

On the Storefront: Historic East Village Food Tour, one of the many small businesses we will stop and sample a drink from is the newsstand/candy store Gem Spa, located on Second Avenue at the corner of St. Mark’s Place. Gem Spa was originally called “Gems Spa” and was founded in 1957 by Ruby Silverstein and his partner Harold Shepard. In an interview in 1969 with New York Magazine, Ruby explained that the name “Gems” comes from a combination of the initial letters of Gladys, Etta, Miriam, and Silverstein-Shepard. The three ladies used in deriving the name were his wife, his partner’s ex-wife, and his partner’s current wife. The “Spa” is a word that he says was picked up when he was overseas in the service.


Ben took thisBuffalo and Eagle found on Broadway at 40th Street

A flight of whimsy arrived on the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza in the Garment District yesterday. Titled A Fancy Animal Carnival, these eleven large-scale, colorful sculptures were created by the Taiwanese artist, Hung Yin. Each of the whimsical sculptures reflects folk culture as well as region, and represents a narrative expressed through traditional Taiwanese symbols, which are believed to bring luck. They also represent the artist’s view of everyday life.


Rendering of The Lanes, a 60,000 sf 57-unit condominium in Long Island City that serves as a new paradigm for urban living. Image via Fogarty Finger

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

Today’s popular articles:

elcekis-for-notacrime-untapped-cities-afinelyneMural by the Chilean artist El Cekis. Image via NotACrime

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, those of the Bahá‘í faith have been banned from teaching or studying in Iranian universities. Their businesses have been torched, they have been harassed, jailed and even killed for their beliefs. In an effort to raise global awareness, the organization Education is Not A Crime has created a campaign through art in New York CIty to show their plight.

This year’s campaign began on April 25th, with murals depicting the Bahá‘í struggle for equality. Curated by Street Art Anarchy, there will be fifteen murals in total, scattered throughout Harlem and East Harlem, created by artists from all over the World. The first mural is located on the wall of the famed Faison Firehouse Theatre by artist Ricky Lee Gordon, located at 6 Hancock Place near St. Nicholas Avenue and 124th Street. Below are images of the finished murals so far.


harlem-african-burial-ground-task-force-nyc-untapped-cities5Conceptual (night) rendering of the Original Harlem African Burial Ground Footprint. All images via the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force

Since the Village of Harlem was founded in 1660, it has served as a major residential and cultural center for communities of African descent. Still to this day, many New Yorkers are unaware of the historical significance of the neighborhood and the role of freed and enslaved Africans who helped build it. On a sacred Lenape tribal site near Harlem River and East 126th Street, the remains of at least two individuals were found (one likely to be a woman of African descent) underneath 2nd Avenue and 126th Street, the site of a modern day bus depot site.

The NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is now working in close collaboration with the Speaker’s Office and the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force to redevelop the site and build a meaningful memorial to ensure that a hundred of years of neglect will not erase the contributions of those who are buried there.