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Diamond District-Diamond Lampposts-Business Improvement District-Midtown-NYC

We’ve walked by the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan so many times, even reporting on the Gold Arcade that’s midblock. But somehow we managed to miss its most symbolic architecture–the diamond shaped lamp posts that mark the entrance to the unique district on 47th Street. One is situated on 5th Avenue and the other on 6th Avenue, and they turn green (when lit up). The lamp posts are the work of the 47th Street Business Improvement District, an organization formed in 1997. The diamond-shaped pylons (as they’re called officially) were part of a lager initiative that included other street lights designed specifically for the block.

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The newly renovated United Nations building on the east side of Manhattan is the first update to the building since it opened in 1952. But an update is perhaps not quite the right term, because architect Michael Alderstein has more accurately restored the building to its original glory. The renovations, totaling $2.1 billion over six years, are predominantly on the infrastructure with the original International style aesthetics left mostly untouched. We recently took a tour of the renovations over Open House New York weekend with the architects, learning among many things that the U.N. has its own police and fire department, as well as postal department. When you enter the U.N. building, you essentially leave America and enter international territory.

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527 West 110th StreetImage via Gargoyles of New York

As Halloween approaches, we’d like to invite you to look up at the eerie creatures that live year round on the buildings of New York City. Here is our roundup of the creepiest grotesques. Many of these are featured on the website Gargoyles of New York, though it should be noted that gargoyles are technically water spouts while grotesques purely are decorative.

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Color_Penn-Station-Demolition_New-York-City-Untapped CitiesPenn Station demolition. Image via wirednewyork.com.

Editor’s note: The following is a piece by Justin Rivers, who has been working for 10 years on a play about the demolition of Penn Station which previewed at the Center for Architecture last fall. The project, titled The Eternal Space, is currently in Kickstarter fundraiser to bring it to fruition. 

Fifty-one years ago today, construction crews pulled up to the 33rd Street entrance of New York City’s Beaux-Arts marvel, Pennsylvania Station, with orders to begin its three-year demolition. The station was only 53 years old at the time. It covered two full city blocks, making it the largest indoor public space in the world. Penn’s demolition was precipitated by the bankrupting of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who was forced to sell its air rights and move its rail operation down into an ill-conceived basement station barely one-third the original station’s size. Among many things, Penn Station’s destruction was a symbolic torch passing from the grandiose appreciation of the past to the austere simplicity of the future. As the New York Times so aptly put it in 1961, “The Age of Elegance bowed to the Age of Plastic.”

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

Today’s most popular articles: Daily What?! Urban Explorer Scales the Roof of Grand Central TerminalCities 101: Who Chooses the NYC Marathon Route?

Taxi-Cabs-Untapped Cities-NYC-Cities 101-CarsA Toyota Camry NYC Cab in Columbus Circle (Image via Flickr via Edmond Low)

The iconic yellow taxi’s of NYC have been an everlasting icon of the city since the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company began rolling them down NYC streets in the early 1920’s. In its almost 100 year history, the taxicabs of NYC have gone through as many changes as the city itself, something we previously documented in our vintage photo column. What has never changed in the minds of New Yorker’s, is its iconic color: the very visible yellow that only NYC taxicabs seem to have. What many New Yorker’s are not aware of is that, the color of the NYC taxicabs that roam the streets of NYC (really Manhattan if we are being honest here) have not been the iconic yellow some of us grew up seeing.

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