woodhaven post office wpa muralWoodhaven Post Office. Photo via Queens Brownstoner

New York City has more than its share of art. Works of art can be found throughout the city, in museums, galleries, and even scattered across its parks. However, an often overlooked venue for art in New York City are post offices. During the Great Depression, federal agencies including the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, often confused and conflated with the WPA, hired painters and sculptors to “secure suitable art of the best quality available for the embellishment of public buildings.”

Between 1934 and 1943, the Section, as it was known, commissioned works of art for more than 1,100 post offices across the United States. While some of the murals and sculptures have been lost or destroyed, most of the ones created for New York City post offices can still be viewed in situ. With the USPS closing and selling off a large percentage of its post offices, highlighting these works of art commissioned for the public is more important than ever.


2-The Kissena Velodrome In Flushing, NYC- New York's Only Remaining Cycling Track_1964_Untapped Cities_NYC_Stepanie GeierPeter Senia Jr. wins the Junior 5-mile at the 1964 national championships at the Kissena Velodrome. Image via bikecult

New York City is home to many obscure places and things, such as secret tunnels and an abandoned smallpox hospital. Now, here’s another interesting thing to add to the list: the Kissena Velodrome, New York’s only remaining cycling track, in Flushing.


2-Micro Neighborhoods_Flushing_Main Street_NYC_Untapped Cities_Stephanie GeierDowntown Flushing is home to many Chinese and Korean businesses

Though many know Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown for its dense Chinese population, Flushing, Queens has a nearly equal Chinese presence. About 70% of its population is Asian, making it a thriving ethnic micro neighborhood. In fact, according to a Daily News article citing the 2010 census, Flushing’s own Chinese population has overtaken that of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown.


Columbia_University_Butler_Library_from_front-NYC Oldest Schools-Untapped Cities-Stephanie GeierThe Butler Library at Columbia University, which is one of New York City’s oldest operating schools. Image via Wikimedia Commons

When you think of New York City’s rich cultural history, educational institutions may not be among the first words that come to mind. But many of New York City schools have roots from hundreds of years ago and were an important part of the city’s development. In fact, quite a few of these New York City schools were important milestones in the nation’s educational history, with some even earning superlative spots among America’s finest institutions.


Owl Statue Over Jefferson Hall at Queens College. Via Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Nkabouris

With fall and the back to school season in full swing, Untapped Cites is uncovering the hidden and little known past uses of some of New York City’s colleges. Today we look at the Queens College campus, which has had several past uses including the Parental School for “incorrigible boys and truants,” which closed after a scandal. Queens College continues to use several Mission Revival style buildings from the earlier institution.


Flushing Meadows-Corona Park-USTA US Open Tennis Championships-Queens-NYC
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Photo by Bobby Das via Flickr

It’s day one of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. For urban explorers, the park has long held a special lore, with its layered history and abandoned structures. As you’ll see in this collection of secrets, its past and proposed future continue to reflect the push and pull of New York City development and most spectacularly its hidden spots may reveal themselves in centuries to come, or never again.