09/12/13 9:00am

Open house new york east river boat tour manhattan brooklyn bridge untapped cities

The East River has seen an unprecedented amount of growth and development over the course of the Bloomberg administration, and the Openhousenewyork architectural boat tour of the East River emphasized that. We joined OHNY and speakers Justin Davidson, the architecture critic of NY Magazine, Robert Balder, executive director of Cornell’s College of Architecture Art and Planning in NYC, Andrew Winters, the director of capital projects and planning for Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, Deborah Marton, senior vice president of programs for the New York Restoration Project, and Philip Orton, a research scientist at Stevens Institute of Technology, for an architectural boat tour of the East River. As they pointed out some key sites, the experts discussed what makes for successful vs. unsuccessful urban planning on the waterfront. Here are some highlights:  (more…)

09/10/13 12:00pm


On Saturday, 27 members of the North Brooklyn Boating Club completed a circumnavigation of Manhattan. This was the club’s first circumnavigation of Manhattan, and their flotilla included canoes, kayaks and a row boat.  Fellow Untaped Cities contributor Charles-Antoine Perrault, was also present for this amazing trip.


08/08/13 10:00am

East River-Industrial-Ferry-Domino-NYC-016

Earlier this week, we published a photo essay about notable spots along the Hudson River in “Thirteen of NYC’s Most Important Architectural Sites on the Hudson River.” The East River, in contrast, is in a different state of development with new sleek skyscrapers abutting both active and abandoned industrial sites. Untapped Cities photographer Troy Hahn went by East River Ferry to photograph these elements on the Brooklyn side, showing how new and old co-exist. Inevitably with the course of development, some industrial elements will be lost but sites along the East River such as Long Island City and the Brooklyn Navy Yard have embraced or built around their historical elements.


08/05/13 1:00pm

Manhattan heliport Pier 6 Wall Street Untapped Cities The downtown Manhattan heliport sits on the East River at Pier 6, near Wall Street. Source: Joel Raskin.  

A frequent sight on the New York skyline over the Hudson and East Rivers, helicopters seem as native to the city as seagulls and pigeons. These aircrafts share the airspace with commercial liners and smaller private planes. But with so many usages–personal, commercial, medical, corporate–helicopter travel is far from the strictly-monitored system we’d expect over one of the world’s transportation hubs (as evidenced by a series of crashes and emergency landings in the past decade).

A deadly crash over the Hudson between a sightseeing helicopter and a plane in 2009 prompted the Federal Aviation Administration set new flight regulations in the flight corridors of Manhattan’s rivers. The area from the southern end of Governors Island to the northern tip of Roosevelt Island makes up the East River Visual Flight Rules (VFR) corridor. The Hudson River VFR corridor stretches the length of Manhattan. In these zones, any licensed pilots can fly a registered aircraft up to 1,500 feet. Pilots are not required to be in contact with air traffic control, and simply avoid other aircrafts that they see.  (more…)

08/01/13 11:00am

skyscraper-bridges-raymond-hood-untapped-citiesHood’s sketch of a series of skyscrapers spanning the river. Source: The Skyscraper Museum.

The prosperity and opulence of New York in the 1920′s spilled from the speakeasies and jazz parties to the drawing board, as a number of the era’s ambitious architects unveiled dream structures of a future age. The city was rapidly expanding, but faced traffic and population congestion. At the turn of the 20th century, New York City had been linked to the outer boroughs and New Jersey via almost a dozen bridges, including the Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges. With the rise of these soaring structures came a slew of ambitious proposals for even larger bridges, like Gustave Lindenthal’s Hudson River behemoth. Architect Raymond Hood–who would later help design Rockefeller Center–had a plan to trump them all, with skyscraper bridges of the future that would ease congestion and provide stunning waterfront views.


07/23/13 10:00am

HMS Hussar-Shipwreck-NYC-East River-Gold Bullion

An Untapped Cities reader, Alex Quintana, tweeted us about the shipwreck of the HMS Hussar last week, after reading our article about the abandoned North Brother Island. The HMS Hussar was a British ship that sank in 1780 after it hit Pot Rock in the difficult waters of Hell Gate passage near the Bronx. The frigate was reportedly carrying 960,000 British pounds in gold when it sank. According to the Bank of England inflation calculator, that’s almost 146 million pounds (in 2012 currency). According to The New York Times, an international coin dealer estimated the bullion could be worth $576 million. But others believe only two to four million in gold were on board.