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JR Flatiron Pasting-Giant Man Walking-NYCCover of The New York Times Magazine (photo via Jake Silverstein)

French street artist JR, whose work has previously been shown in Times Square, Fordham University and inside abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island, always seems to outdo himself when he comes to New York City. Last week, The New York Times Magazine released the April issue, titled “Walking New York.” The cover is an aerial photo of the very large and very real piece by JR at Flatiron Plaza, with information that there were many more placed throughout the five boroughs. There could be no better cue for us at Untapped Cities to go traipsing around the city this weekend.

All 14 of the other pieces were also photographs of recent immigrants, taken by JR on the streets of Nolita earlier this month. The goal is to encourage people to walk all over the city to find the pieces. Below are all 14 pieces of JR’s “Walking New York” project:

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Google NYC Office-Vintage Postcard Wall Spells Out Google-Meatpacking-Chelsea Market-2

Here’s a fun fact even some Google employees don’t know about their New York office, which is full of New York City-inspired decor. In the 9th Avenue entrance, there’s a wall of vintage postcards across from the elevator bank. Most people just take in the cool postcards (if it all) but don’t realize that they’re laid out to spell out “Google” when viewed just a few steps back, by showing the back side of the postcards.

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Revolution Books-Chelsea-NYCImage via Flickr by Erin M

“If you find the current state of the world intolerable … if you yearn for a better future
. . . Revolution Books is the place for you.” – Revolution Books

Revolution Books is a little-known Manhattan bookstore on W. 26th Street that carries books on revolutionary thought ranging from science, to culture, to political morality and beyond. The store is beautifully curated and feels really welcoming. Assuming that people are looking for books on strong controversial ideas, the space feels safe and the staff is careful to let their customers know that it’s a “no judgement zone.” Revolution Books is a space for minds to gather and discuss ways to change what is wrong with the world.

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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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Hotel Gilsey-Gilsey House-Tenderloin-Chelsea-Tin Pan Alley-NYC

Gilsey House 

On Sunday, October 19th at 4pm we’ll be hosting a walking tour with historian and author David Freeland through the remnants of the area of Manhattan once known as The Tenderloin. This area, which turned into the northern part of Chelsea, was home to New York City’s red light district, its dance clubs and gambling houses. Following the tour, we’ll be hosting an optional cocktail at the hidden speakeasy Bathtub Gin. In preparation for the event, we’ve interviewed David about what we’ll see on the tour and what some of his favorite Untapped finds are in the city.

Tell us about what the Tenderloin was like in its hey day and why it’s such an important part of NYC’s history

The Tenderloin peaked from the 1870s to the years just before 1910.  By 1910, it was essentially over.  The Tenderloin really could not have existed at any other time, and in few other places, within New York history.  Why?  It developed specifically as a shadowy outgrowth of the luxury hotel industry, which blossomed along Broadway and the upper 20s during the last decades of the 19th century–beginning with the opening of Gilsey House (where we will start our tour) in 1871.  Money flowed into the area, thanks to the influx of wealthy businessmen from the provinces–who came to New York with money to spend, and who were always looking for “after-hours” recreational opportunities!

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We previously rounded up 8 beautiful historic districts in Manhattan that were smaller than a block and we decided it was time to look at all of New York City. All the boroughs except Staten Island have historic districts smaller than a city block, as defined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We’ll go in order, from the smallest number of houses in the district.

1. Hardenbergh/Rhindelander Historic District, Upper East Side, Manhattan

Hardenbergh Rhinelander Historic District-Upper East Side-89th Street-Lexington

This little historic district is really just a corner at the northwest corner of 89th Street and Lexington Avenue. In addition to this set of 6 buildings along Lexington Avenue, the district includes one narrow townhouse at 121 E. 89th Street. According to Ephemeral New York, Henry Hardenbergh, who designed the homes, “also designed the Dakota and the original Waldorf-Astoria on 34th Street.”

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