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THE KNICKThe Lower East Side was transformed into 1900 NYC. Photo by Mary Cybulski/Cinemax

When Steven Soderbergh retired from directing movies last year he announced that “movies don’t matter anymore.” Fans of the director’s work were stunned. Since 1989 with his first independent feature Sex, Lies and Videotape; Soderbergh has been one of the few directors in cinema who has truly kept audiences guessing his next move. Almost two years into his “retirement” there is no word of Soderbergh returning to the cinema. To some, that might be viewed as a bad sign; Soderbergh, however, has not been laying dormant. On the contrary, since “retiring” he has been working constantly. He became very active on Twitter, in the most Soderbergh-y way possible, making a novella titled GLUE; he has spliced together both versions of Psycho, and, even more bizarrely awesome, he re-edited Spielberg’s Raiders of The Lost Ark, transforming it into a black and white silent film.

He has done all of this, including directing an off-Broadway play, getting into the liquor business and once again finding himself in the director’s chair. Soderbergh’s return to the set was not for a feature, or even for a TV film. Perhaps inspired by the work of Cary Fukunaga on True DetectiveSoderbergh decided to do something similar and direct every episode of a project he come across called The Knick. Soderbergh directs (as well as edits under his pseudonym Mary Anne Bernard ) every episode of the series first season, which follows the life and exploits of Dr. John Tackery, head surgeon of The Knickerbocker Hospital and its staff in 1900 New York City.

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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

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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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