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horse-carriage-nyc-untappedImage via Library of Congress

After noticing how many “fake” mews there are around New York, we decided to look into actual mews that have been preserved from the 19th century. Before the automobile, when the only way to get around was on a horse or being draw by one in a carriage, horses inhabited the city and actually played a huge role in its functioning. These valuable horses needed stables where they could rest and be cared for, so owners bought land and built rows of stables and carriage houses–also known as mews.

When the automobile took over and the mews were no longer needed many of these rows were destroyed, but thankfully some were converted for residential or commercial purposes. Converted mews and carriage houses that have been carefully preserved give us a glimpse into the past; a New York lost to the modern age. Here we share 9 of NYC’s remaining mews.

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On Friday, The New York Times published an article on New York City’s one-block streets–contending that they carry something antithetical to the city in some ways, proclaiming that bigger is not always better. But smaller can mean more expensive. While the article focuses much on the real estate nature of these wonderful enclaves, we’d thought we’d provide some historical tidbits and some of our own adds to the list.

1. Gay Street, Greenwich Village

Gay Street-Greenwich Village-NYC-One Block StreetImage via Wikimedia by Jean-Christophe BENOIST

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meat-espositos-nyc-manhattan-butcher shops

Some things are better when they’re new but most things just have that irreplaceable charm when they’re old, like these classic New York City butcher shops. NYC was once filled with meat markets on almost every corner, however, today only a handful remain and we’re lucky that they do. With authentic butchery techniques that are more than half a century old, quality meats and shop locations around the boroughs, there is no doubt that New Yorkers are continuing to support family owned businesses.

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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…)

Pumpkin Impaled Fence-Cobble Hill-Untapped Cities-Ben Helmer-2540

“This is your last year, right?” Three costumed boys walked by Jane Greengold’s creation: impaled pumpkins atop an old iron fence. Halloween is a tradition in Cobble Hill, and Jane’s 274 spike fence is the talk of the neighborhood. But this is just the beginning. Over the next weeks, these pumpkins will remain in place, allowed to slowly decay. Last year they stayed until Christmas.

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If you’re looking to avoid the standard Halloween at all costs and up for a more “urbanist” experience, we’ve rounded up some events for city nerds.

Costumed Halloween Twilight Tour at the Newtown Creek Digester Eggs


This unique tour, which includes prizes for best costumes, will take place at 6pm on Halloween at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The piece de resistance will be the illuminated digester eggs that convert sludge into water, carbon dioxide, and methane gas, and eventually use those to make fertilizer.

Interested? RSVP by sending an email to events@dep.nyc.gov
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