Will Ellis Dead Horse Bay-Brooklyn-NYC

Join photographer/urban explorer Will Ellis, author of Abandoned NYC and Untapped Cities columnist, on a walk through the weird side of New York history at Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay. Tales of buried pirate treasure, putrefied animal carcasses, and environmental devastation abound on this desolate shoreline, which once served as the final destination for the city’s carriage horses. Today this beach-comber’s paradise is covered with garbage dating back to a 1920s landfill deposit, offering a fascinating look at what New Yorkers were throwing away a century ago.  Bring a bag for take home a few of the incredible artifacts you’re sure to stumble upon—there’s plenty of trash to go around.

Join us on March 21st as we escape into New York’s past, revisiting history with Abandoned NYC’s Will Ellis. He’ll be giving a historical introduction to the site, weaving in tales from his experience photographing for his book Abandoned NYC, and showing the best places to look for artifacts.

The tour will meet at Flatbush Av – Brooklyn College subway stop (exact location to be announced) at 1:45 pm to take the Q35 Bus together. See below for a video showing what you might see on our tour of Dead Horse Bay.

Check out more upcoming Untapped Cities tours and events here, including a book talk with Will Ellis on 2/25 at WeWork West Broadway.

Untapped Cities_New York_Will Ellis_Abandoned NYC-001Photo by Jonathan McPhail Photography

Every week, we highlight one of our 300+ Untapped Cities contributors worldwide. This week, we’re featuring Will Ellis, an Untapped columnist and the explorer behind Abandoned NYC.

What’s your “day job”?

I work as a freelance photographer/videographer/editor and do some teaching, but my labor of love is photographing and researching New York City’s abandoned places for my blog, Abandoned NYC.

What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?

If we’re talking abandoned buildings, it has to be P.S. 186 in Harlem.


Despite the scarcity of open space, New York City has its share of famous cemeteries from the historic Woodlawn, Green-Wood and New York Marble Cemeteries to the lesser-known “Potter’s Field” on Hart Island. Beyond human remains, however, the city and surrounding areas are also the final resting places of a number of ill-fated objects and living things. See below for our picks for New York’s most interesting non-human graveyards.

1. Payphone Graveyard under the West Side Highway

pay-phone-graveyard-dave-bledsoe-untappedSource: Dave Bledsoe

With wi-fi access now available at many subway stations, it’s hard to imagine a time before smartphones. But the vestiges of a pre-cell phone era still exist in the hundred discarded payphone booths tucked under the West Side Highway at 135th St. and 12th Ave. New York photographer Dave Bledsoe discovered this eerie scene on a recent walk and immediately captured the phone “graveyard.”  (more…)

Untapped New York is a proud to be a partner of Let’s Go, with our shared vision for off-the-beaten path exploration in your own city and while traveling. To launch the collaboration, we curated a list of  our top “Untapped” places from our home base in New York City. These are all tried and true urban exploration sites that we’ve gone behind the scenes to cover on Untapped New York. How many have you been to? What others would you add to the list?

1.  The TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport

Decommissioned in 2001 after the construction of the Jet Blue terminal, this cathedral to aviation by Eero Saarinen  fills you with the pride and optimism the aviation industry had in the 1960s. Preservation efforts have saved it from the wrecking ball and there are proposals to turn the TWA Flight Center into a hotel.


A few weeks ago we introduced you to Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn  which contains the remnants of actual dead horses and a plethora of vintage garbage from over a hundred years ago. The landscape, dotted with bottles, creepy toys, household nicknacks, decaying boats and even (reportedly), old hand guns, is a treasure chest for antique collectors and urban explorers. In this video, provided to us by Group 11, and excerpted for use on Untapped New York, one of those collectors tells us a little more about Dead Horse Bay and what he’s finding.

We’re always interested in history, so it’s kind of like peeling back the past. It’s all here. Just that you can unearth somebody’s else’s garbage and try to explain a story with it…it’s fun and interesting….It’s nice to know what might have happened 50, 60 years before I was even born. I think this is one of the last few untouched areas of Brooklyn.”

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

Just next to  Floyd Bennett Field  in Brooklyn, across from Fort Tilden and the Rockaways, sits Dead Horse Beach, which not only contains the remnants of dead horses, but also a plethora of vintage garbage from over a hundred years ago. The landscape is dotted with bottles, among which you can find perfume bottles from the early 1900s, creepy toys, plenty of household nicknacks, decaying boats and even (reportedly), old hand guns.  (more…)