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Patti Smith Robert Mapplethorpe-Untapped CitiesSource: Dangerous Minds.

A little over forty years ago, in a nightclub called Max’s Kansas City, Robert Mapplethorpe made his way through a crowd of artists, drag queens, and cocaine fiends, hoping to charm his way into Andy Warhol’s inner circle. His friend and ex-lover Patti Smith, then an unknown like him, watched his efforts warily. A few years later, Mapplethorpe would be shocking the art world with his provocative homoerotic photography and portraits of Warhol. Smith would be performing at Max’s. But before they achieved fame, they were vagrants moving through the world of artists, socialites, and provocateurs in downtown Manhattan. After Mapplethorpe lost his battle with AIDS in 1989, Patti Smith captured their experiences in her award-winning memoir Just Kids.

In this article, we’ll trace Patti Smith’s trail through New York City. Max’s, once a focal point of Warhol’s Factory, is gone now. There is a CVS at the address it once had north of Union Square. But other places are still here or remembered in film.

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Mastodon fossil Untapped Cities

Some people might say New York City has a hard time holding on to its past, and it’s not just classic architecture and cool dive bars that disappear without a trace. Fossils, too, are easily lost beneath the city streets. Thousands of years ago, prehistoric animals roamed the area, including the mighty mastodon (Mammut americanum), an ancient animal with an outsized presence and huge historical significance.  (more…)

mills pond house-front-smithtown-long island-ny-untapped citiesImage via Yelp

What was once a grand Long Island farmhouse now stands repurposed as an interactive art gallery. Located in St. James, the Mills Pond House is now the home of the Smithtown Township Arts Council, a non-profit which promotes the arts through educational exhibitions, programs and outreach. The Arts Council boasts a flourishing summer camp program and holds puppetry, music, dance, art instruction and cultural programs year round.  (more…)

Enid A Haupt Conservatory: A World of PlantsOpened in 1902, the Haupt has been restored several times, most recently by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects in 1997, and refurbished in 2010.

If the New York Botanical Garden is the city’s greatest cultural institution you’ve never visited, you’ll want to rectify that immediately. Founded in 1891 by forward-thinking citizens and funded by taxpayers as well as the nation’s most famous moguls (Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Morgan were on the founding board), the NYBG was remarkable from day one.

Despite the NYBG’s timeless nature there are seasonal reasons to go now. For one thing, you don’t want to miss the extraordinary Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life exhibition, whose run has been extended until November 1. For another, autumn is an especially beautiful time at the garden.

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washington heights-NYC-Untapped CitiesViews of the Hudson River from Washington Heights. Image via airbnb

A strange mix of Patriot and Tory still exists in Washington Heights, where American troops fell to British forces in 1776.  The Battle of Fort Washington took place in the area on November 16, 1776, where the cliffs at the northern end of the island offer sweeping views of the Hudson River.  This commanding position made the spot a key military point during the American Revolution.

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captain-kidd-in-new-york-harbor-jean-leon-gerome-ferris-001Captain Kidd, one of Williamsburg’s first regular visitors, entertaining guests. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Editor note: Untapped Cities columnist Janos Marton, New York City lawyer, activist and founder of the website janos.nyc has been working on a full history of Williamsburg. While this project will be in progress for some time, a few months of research has already yielded fun facts about the popular Brooklyn neighborhood, which he will share with us today. In a fun anecdote, he says:

I got to drop one at a biker bar on Saturday night. A group of bikers were mocking the real estate industry’s generation of new neighborhoods, like “East Williamsburg”, and the latest, “Bushwood.” Somehow “Bushwick” got mockingly thrown into the mix, and I felt obliged to point out that Bushwick was actually named by Peter Stuyvesant in 1660, so unless one wants to argue (and one could) that “Bushwick” was a very old school real estate marketing gimmick, at least that neighborhood can stand on its name.

Without further ado, ten interesting facts about Williamsburg, before it was cool–before it was even Williamsburg.

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