Here at Untapped Cities, we’ve written about many unique architectural conversions in New York City, from churches to psychiatric asylums to synagogues. But today, we’re showing you the transformation of homes from mansions to tenement houses.

1. Cartier, 651-653 Fifth Avenue, the Plant Mansion

The reason behind Cartier‘s chosen flagship store is a popular one. Cartier itself produced a documentary on the “worst trade ever.” While told with varying levels of detail and perhaps, exaggeration, the store is also known as the “House that Pearls Bought.”



1964 World’s Fair Ruins

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


I don’t know very much about the finer points of aging gracefully, but am pretty sure it involves limited color palettes and houndstooth. At least, that’s what the chic older ladies of New York have led me to believe. The Upper East Side isn’t one of my usual haunts, but any self-respecting people-watcher knows that every once in a while you have to visit unfamiliar places to refresh your eyes and see what life looks like with a view of the East River. Also, a lot of museums are up there, which was the reason for my sojourn into that part of town. (There’s an Egon Schiele exhibit at the Neue Galerie right now.)


While you probably maintain a black and white image of dirty young intellectuals huddled around a table in a dark room building a device for destruction, anarchy in 20th century New York developed as a social, political, and humanitarian movement in reaction to the ideologies of oppressive governments at the time. However, the movement quickly became violent, and its legacy today holds negative connotation. Its conspirators didn’t just gather in grimy tenements on the East Side of Manhattan. Members of anarchist groups met anywhere from the Upper East Side to East Williamsburg, targeting influential New Yorkers as important as John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan and left their mark on places from Wall Street to Union Square.

1. Union Square, 1908

Anarchist Bombing-Union Square-NYCImage via Library of Congress


anna brown screen capture mapsImage via Business Insider


Imagine this: You walk out of Port Authority after a long bus trip, and need to find your best friend’s apartment at 383 Madison Avenue. As you take your phone out of your pocket, a commuter with no patience for dawdlers rushes past you, bumping your arm, causing your phone to fall and smash into smithereens on the sidewalk. So what do you do? Luckily, there’s a mathematical formula that will help you estimate the cross street of any address in Manhattan, and all it requires is a bit of mental math.


It has been a little over 12 months since Banksy’s NYC residency came to an end last Halloween with his final act of vandalism: his name in big, shiny, silver bubble letters (quite literally) hanging from a wall in Queens, two months before the infamous white-washing of 5Pointz. The bubble letters were taken by the NYPD, who took them from two amateur thieves (who could have taken a lesson or two from Thomas Crown). Shouts from a crowd of onlookers were first aimed at the thieves and later, to the police; some of them (including Brooklyn Street Art’s Jamie Rojo) were arrested. The entire maddening scene was recorded on video and put on YouTube, Instagram, Vine etc. It was an outlandish ending to one of the most bizarre and polarizing art events to ever happen in NYC.

What Banksy personally accomplished with his Better Out Than In project is unknown to us (or anyone who isn’t Banksy. But the artist, whose message is as illusory as his identity, may not have anticipated the fury of the social media firestorm, so much so that someone would want to document the madness and have it shown on HBO.