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You know about food trucks, but New York City is full of other types of unique mobile truck businesses. And no, we’re not talking about the NYPD trucks that process delinquents…

1. Del Re’s Knife Grinding Truck

“It’s like old New York,” says a happy customer waiting for her kitchen knives to be sharpened Saturday morning near Columbia University. 58-year old Dominic Del Re is from Italy and was a commodities trader in New York City. He decided to get into the mobile knife sharpening business after the stock market crash of 1987. The truck is from his wife’s uncle, a knife grinder in Montreal, who also taught him the trade, which was passed down from his wife’s grandfather. He started in Brooklyn and now goes all over. He doesn’t like photographs, but will jokingly charge you $1 per shot. And he has a strict no weapons policy.

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01_MTA Arts and Transit_Untapped Cities_NYC_Bhushan Mondkar“Sky Reflector-Net” by James Carpenter, Grimshaw Architects and ARUP, is the largest single work ever commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. Image: Patrick Cashin

The New York City subway system is beaming with amazing art installations–from colorful mosaics to the “Sky Reflector-Net” at the recently opened Fulton Center, which also boasts a new digital arts program on 52 screens. Of course, the subway system today is worlds apart from the one in 1970s (remember the images of graffiti covered subway trains?). But over the years, one group within the MTA has made our ride more imaginative–MTA Arts & Design (formerly known as MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design)–has slowly but steadily amassed an incredible underground Art Museum spanning across all five boroughs, pumping an artistic energy into the subway system.

As MTA Arts & Design approaches its 30th anniversary, Untapped Cities had the opportunity to talk with Sandra Bloodworth, who has been the director of MTA Arts & Design since 1996. Her latest book, New York’s Underground Art Museum: MTA Arts & Design has just been released. She graciously talked about various topics including the early days of the organization, opportunities and challenges that have evolved over the years and bringing public art into New York’s public transit. The interview was conducted by Catherine Mondkar and Bhushan Mondkar and will be presented in four parts in the coming weeks. We begin the series by talking about the origin and evolution of MTA Arts & Design.

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The Little Lost Project

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

Today’s most popular articles:

Finback Brewery-Ridgewood Queens-Untapped Cities-NY Adventure Club Happy Hour-NYCFinback Brewery. Image via Tasting Table

We’re excited to announce that the Untapped Cities Holiday Happy Hour will be at Finback Brewery on Wednesday December 10th. Finback was a reader’s choice in our article on the Top 12 Microbreweries in NYC and at this special free event you’ll be able to take a tour of the Queens brewery and try some of their great offerings, with drink specials just for attendees. Entrance to the event is free, but you do need to grab a free ticket below. Mingle with Untapped Cities readers and our large group of NYC-based contributors. The event goes from 6 to 9 pm.

Finback Brewery has an expansive evergreen offering with awesome names like Coasted Toconut and Plum & Proper, along with seasonal beers. If you’re looking for more unique flavors, this is the place for you–with sour beers and others flavored with the likes of jalapeno, coconuts and plum. But there are also more easy drinking options, like the Fort Tildenist brew.

We hope to see you there!

The West Village’s curving and twisting streets lend itself well to many small alleys that are either hidden or extremely subtle. These small alley ways and courtyards and unique to the West Village and there is no concentration of them as great as in this area.  There are also countless beautiful private streets, many lined with houses originally built as stables for the grandiose townhouses in the area.

1. Grove Court

1-grove court untapped cities new york city spencer cohen

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Fulton Center Transit Hub-MTA-Cast Iron Gate-Hotel McAlpin-Marine Murals-NYC

Herald Square seems packed full of retail, department stores, and office buildings today, but there’s a large apartment building at the corner of 34th Street and Broadway that was once the Hotel McAlpin. At its completion in 1912, it was the largest hotel in the world with a Turkish bath on the top floor and two gender-specific floors. Perhaps most of note was the Hotel McAlpin’s restaurant, the Marine Grill, for its terra cotta murals and cast iron entrance gate. In fact, the restaurant originally had a different name but was renamed the Marine Grill, in celebration of the subject matter of the murals–major moments in New York City’s maritime history from Henry Hudson’s arrival to Robert Fulton’s steamship. Thanks to preservationists, the terra cotta murals and the entrance gate are now embedded into the new Fulton Center Transit Hub.

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