neighborhoodxconstantine-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via medium.com

Neighborhood names evoke a specific sense of place.

The best names connect places to their geography and history, and emphasize the qualities that make a place unique. This is especially important now, when bland, placeless design is making many cities feel homogenous.

In most cities, neighborhood boundaries are generally not well-defined, and neighborhood names change over the years as people try to change the associations around places. Just looking at New York City: native place names gave way to Dutch names, which in turn became English names. And historic names gave way to names created and promoted by real estate developers and urban planners.

There are three reasons why neighborhood names change. To distance themselves from a troubled past, to be associated with a more desirable area, or to establish a grandiose vision for an area.


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Last Saturday, the 2015 Chelsea Music Festival, now in its sixth season, concluded eight days of events Chelsea‘s German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul with a jazz trio performance by one of the Festival’s renowned musicians. The event, called the “Jazz FINNale,” included a small reception with a tasting menu curated by Finnish chef Sami Talberg, was the last in a series of performances, tastings, art exhibitions, and discussions centered around the Chelsea Music Festival’s theme of Finnish and Hungarian culture.


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Last night, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Greenwich Village’s Christopher Street hosted one of the last events for the 2015 Chelsea Music Festival, a celebration of Finnish and Hungarian art, culture, music, and food, now in its 6th season. The event, titled ‘Sibelius and Ida’ was a musical retelling of the relationship between famed Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and one of the classical singers he composed a number of pieces for, Ida Eckman.


719 Greenwich Street-Greenwich Village-Cabin on Roof-David Puchkoff and Eileen Stukane-NYCPhoto by George Steinmetz via Gothamist

We’re excited New Yorkers are finally getting behind the fascination that are rooftop cottages–could there be any better way to beat the urban jungle, while still staying in it? Yesterday, Gothamist revealed yet another–a cabin sitting in an urban meadow with a porch to take it all in. As The New York Times reported in 2006, owner David Puchkoff was inspired by a visit to Elk, Pennsylvania and just wanted a porch.


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The landmarked Jefferson Market Library that sits between Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Avenue and Tenth Street had a fascinating prior life. The building was formerly a courthouse, with a prison next door where the garden is today, itself replacing a dingy police court over a saloon and a wooden fire tower. In 1967, just under a decade after being saved from demolition through community efforts and years of renovation, the building was reopened as a New York Public Library branch.


Image via Wikimedia

Marry in May, rue the day? When Edgar Allan Poe wed his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm on May 16th, 1836, he had little way of knowing what fodder he’d given the future gossip mongers of his day–and ours! From remarks about her tender age, their family ties, their lack of children, and his supposed affairs, the rumor mill would be busy turning for hundreds of years to come. But what about the real story?

Join Untapped Cities and Boroughs of the Dead on Saturday, May 16th, 2015 for “The Poe’s Greenwich Village,” a special edition of our historical walking tour from last year that steps into the Greenwich Village of the 1840s, where Edgar and Virginia Poe lived and worked. This tour will interweave some of Poe’s most famous tales with Greenwich Village’s macabre secret histories, all the while constantly striving to answer the question of what life was like for the Poes in mid-19th century New York, and sorting out the myths from the facts regarding their relationship and married life.

You will visit the site of three of their former homes, discover the places that inspired Poe, find out where he read “The Raven” for the first time in public, and learn of the scandals and triumphs he experienced while living in the Village — particularly the unfounded gossip of Edgar’s unprovable “love affairs” — all the while celebrating “a love that was more than love” on this fascinating, informative, and downright romantic walking tour.