04/09/14 12:00pm

village-futuro-wanli-taipei-taiwan-untappedcities-jamesonzimmer

For the architectural historian and Modernism enthusiast, the quasi-abandoned beachfront resort of Futuro and Venturo structures just north of Taipei is an essential and little-publicized pilgrimage. Located in the picturesque coastal Wanli district, the complex offers a glimpse into a bygone era’s optimistic futurism all the more bittersweet considering the site’s current dilapidated condition.

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04/02/14 12:00pm

2-Port Morris Gantries IThe Port Morris Gantries in the Bronx as they sit abandoned today (pic via Friend of Brook Park)

Gantry cranes, utilized as slips for ships carrying both goods and people, were used throughout the 20th century. However, due to the growth of other forms of infrastructure–whether that be highways or bridges–they sat in disrepair from the 1960s and 1970s on. In the past few years we have seen a revival in efforts to restore these engineering giants, or at least to develop the area surrounding the gantries. They have anchored the creation of parks–lush green areas as a part of Bloomberg’s development efforts–to historical zone designation leading to development projects of the gantries and surrounding areas.

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03/24/14 2:00pm

07-Ellis Island 21A room in which autopsies were conducted on bodies in front of a group of doctors

Ellis Island, the gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants from 1892 to 1954, has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year. Hiding in plain sight, just to the left of disembarking passengers headed towards the Great Hall, is the 22-building South Side hospital complex, once the standard for United States medical care, and one of the largest public health undertakings in American history. A volunteer group, Save Ellis Island, has been raising public awareness about the remarkable operation that took place in its walls, which have been left to decay since the hospital complex nearly 60 years ago.

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02/26/14 2:00pm

Abandoned food court neon lights North Bethesda Maryland Untapped Citeis

In New York City, where retail space comes at a high price, shopping malls are not exactly abundant. They tend to be high end, like Rockefeller Center and the Time Warner Center, where Fernando Botero’s bronze Adam and Eve statues stand in front of Williams Sonoma. If there’s a food court, it probably contains a Starbucks, not a Taco Bell or Burger King.

The rest of America (yes, there is life outside New York City) has seen the rise and rapid decline of the suburban-style shopping mall. These malls, and their food courts, featuring familiar inexpensive chains like Subway and Sbarro, started popping up in the 1950s. The Viennese architect Victor Gruen, who first outlined his plan for a shopping mall in a 1952 article in Progressive Architecture, had hoped that creating these huge retail spaces would combat suburban sprawl, and create a sort of simulated downtown for the suburbs that could be found in cities.  (more…)

02/25/14 12:00pm

Lutece Restaurant Mad Men NYC Untapped CitiesPhoto Credit: AMC

At 249-253 East 50th Street, sits the remains of a restaurant that keeps reappearing in pop culture. The Lutèce was recreated in AMC’s Mad Men and referenced in the film Crossing Delancey. In the 1980s, Zagat named it America’s best restaurant for six years, but since the place closed in 1994 it hasn’t been the same. Though the building that housed this world-renowned restaurant is now empty and decaying along with its sister buildings, home to Kate Kearney’s and The Leopard, the myth of the Lutèce has captured the imaginations of many a writer.  (more…)

02/11/14 10:00am

atlantic avenue tunnel-brooklyn-cobble hill-bob diamond-bhra-untapped cities-nyc-lirr-01Photo from inside the now defunct Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. (Image via BHRA by J. Blakeslee)

Back in 1844 when the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was built, the City of Brooklyn was not one of the five boroughs. For the commuters of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad, better known today as the LIRR, the Cobble Hill Tunnel was meant to reduce the congestion caused by a street-level train. In 1980, about 120 years since the City of Brooklyn had banned steam locomotives within city limits, ending the use of the tunnel, Bob Diamond stumbled upon the hidden underground gem. From 1980, he gave tours of the half-mile span to interested gawkers only to have his permit mysteriously taken away by the city in 2010. (more…)