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perfect nothing catalog-NYC-Untapped CitiesThe shack and its owner. Image via swellcityguide.com

Keep this one for the books. Brooklyn resident Frank Traynor is opening an unconventional new business on the Rockaway Peninsula. He calls it The Nothing Mud and Seltzer House, selling, you guessed it, mud baths and seltzer. But to be honest, seeing as his current set-up in the back yard of a gallery in Brooklyn is called The Perfect Nothing Catalog, we’re not exactly surprised.

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captain-kidd-in-new-york-harbor-jean-leon-gerome-ferris-001Captain Kidd, one of Williamsburg’s first regular visitors, entertaining guests. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Editor note: Untapped Cities columnist Janos Marton, New York City lawyer, activist and founder of the website janos.nyc has been working on a full history of Williamsburg. While this project will be in progress for some time, a few months of research has already yielded fun facts about the popular Brooklyn neighborhood, which he will share with us today. In a fun anecdote, he says:

I got to drop one at a biker bar on Saturday night. A group of bikers were mocking the real estate industry’s generation of new neighborhoods, like “East Williamsburg”, and the latest, “Bushwood.” Somehow “Bushwick” got mockingly thrown into the mix, and I felt obliged to point out that Bushwick was actually named by Peter Stuyvesant in 1660, so unless one wants to argue (and one could) that “Bushwick” was a very old school real estate marketing gimmick, at least that neighborhood can stand on its name.

Without further ado, ten interesting facts about Williamsburg, before it was cool–before it was even Williamsburg.

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Brooklyn Reclaimed-5PointzCreate-5Pointz-Bushwick-Brooklyn-Street Art-NYC-005

It wasn’t too long ago when commuters would come out of the 7 train tunnel from Manhattan and see a large building covered in large, beautiful letters and characters–the iconic 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center. Today, that space is a hole in the ground, torn down to make way for a building that will lack the color and personality of 5Pointz. In Bushwick, however, inside and around Brooklyn Reclaimed, a place that is built on the idea of keeping with tradition, a collection of artists that included 5Pointz curator Meres One, came to once again give all of us a place where we can see the art form flourish. The unveiling of the event “Reclaimed” by Brooklyn Reclaimed and the #5PointzCreate crew took place this past Saturday. (more…)

neighborhoodxconstantine-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via medium.com

Neighborhood names evoke a specific sense of place.

The best names connect places to their geography and history, and emphasize the qualities that make a place unique. This is especially important now, when bland, placeless design is making many cities feel homogenous.

In most cities, neighborhood boundaries are generally not well-defined, and neighborhood names change over the years as people try to change the associations around places. Just looking at New York City: native place names gave way to Dutch names, which in turn became English names. And historic names gave way to names created and promoted by real estate developers and urban planners.

There are three reasons why neighborhood names change. To distance themselves from a troubled past, to be associated with a more desirable area, or to establish a grandiose vision for an area.

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Sugarlift_MichaelGaffney

While Bushwick may be more known for its open air street art thanks to the work of the Bushwick Colletive, art galleries are also experiencing a renaissance, forming an integral part of the community in this Brooklyn neighborhood. Like the artists and their work, each space is unique in terms of its exhibits, programming, and overall experience. Here are three to check out during Bushwick Open Studios this weekend, which begins Friday June 5th.

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Jerkface-Alex Diaz-Queen Andrea-RRobots-Wane-Indie-Cope 2-Cern-Crycle-Graffiti-Street Art-Untapped CitiesJerkface, Alexis Diaz, The 191 Beautification Project, Crycle & Cern

In our monthly showcase, Untapped Cities Street Art Columnist Christopher Inoa highlights the top five New York City graffiti and street art pieces found on the city’s walls, rooftops and tunnels. 

It’s now that time of year where we make the switch to ice coffee and any piece of clothing that goes below the knee, or elbow is in the back of the closet. Our music playlists are filled with music that make us want to dance. And it’s also a good time as any to go out and find all the new art that has popped up around the city. Nostalgia, color, and a strong attention to detail has gone into the pieces highlighted this month. If this is a preview of the work to come in the summer months, we’re excited. Here are the top five pieces of May 2015.  (more…)