City College of New York Great Hall-Manhattan-OHNY Weekend-NYC

Every year, Open House New York weekend is one of our readers’ favorite events, allowing them access into hard-to-visit sites and to take in unique programming in others. While the full list of sites won’t be released until early October, we’ve partnered up with OHNY to curate this feature of special locations you shouldn’t miss in this year’s lineup, selected especially for Untapped Cities readers.

This year’s Open House New York, which will take place on October 17th and 18th, will be more “open” than ever, with many locations (and all the ones featured below) now accessible through Open Access, meaning no need to battle for those advance reservations. Stay tuned for an additional guide we will publish, also in partnership with OHNY, on the special programs this year, “Engineering New York” and “Final Mile: Food Systems of New York.” 


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In 1976, cartoonist Saul Steinberg gave us “A View of the World from 9th Avenue,” a humorous take on the way New Yorkers can sometimes be thought to see the rest of the world across the Hudson River. His drawing became one of The New Yorker‘s best known covers, eliciting chuckles and eye rolls alike.

Earlier this week, CityLab shared a similar map via Reddit, larger in scale and about a thousand times more detailed. The David Rumsey Map Collection lists the author as unknown, and dates it to somewhere around the 1970s, but other than that, the story of how this particular map came to be is shrouded in mystery. The map itself, however, packs every New York City neighborhood, building, attraction, and landmark into an intricate “New Yorker’s Map of the World,” pushing the rest of America, even the rest of the world (which includes just a few countries in Europe and Asia), off to the very edges. The result is nothing short of hilarious.


trinity church secrets financial district dmytro-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via Dmytro Kochetov

Churches all around the world bear the name ‘Trinity Church.’ The most unusual by far happens to be a small Russian Orthodox Trinity Church made of Siberian pine wood on the tip of King George Island in Antarctica. The most famous, arguably, is Manhattan’s Trinity Church. Once the tallest building in the city, the church, actually three churches of the same name that were built on the same ground, is one of the most well-endowed and recognizable sights in New York City. In another time, it was the first thing sailors and voyagers saw when pulling into New York Harbor. Today, though it is dwarfed by buildings, it holds a place in the Financial District that is closely intertwined with history. Here are 10 of the most enticing secrets we dug up about it.


2 world trade center-NYC-Untapped Cities2 World Trade Center. Image via popularmechanics.com

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is most notable to New Yorkers these days as the designer of 2 World Trade Center, the final building slated for construction that will overlook the former Ground Zero in the new World Trade Center complex. His body of work, however, is growing in New York City with the Dry Line and the unique residential building in Hell’s Kitchen,VIA 57 West. His firm BIG is one of the hottest in the industry right now, translating the wacky and intricate modern designs Ingels is known for in Europe to the New York stage. There’s also a project, nicknamed “The Tostito” coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

In a new interactive and video from The New York Times, Ingels notes how Manhattan has welcomed him since moving a branch of his Copenhagen firm to New York in 2011. Ingel’s redesigned 2 World Trade Center, conceived of as a leaning stack of sharp-edged boxes, with outdoor terraces on the 80th floor and above, should be one of the more interesting sights in the Financial District, along with being the fifth tallest building in New York City. An interactive 360-view of the planned building can be seen here.


The New York Subway system opened to the public for the first time on October 27th, 1904 and changed the face of mass transit in the city forever. Today, it takes no less than 40 minutes to travel up Manhattan from South Ferry to Washington Heights two hundred blocks away (that is, if you take the right train), a journey that would would normally be five times as long on foot.

It’s a 24-hour system that ferries you and millions of New Yorkers around the city every day, but you may be unaware of the technology behind it. Did you know one of the main subway traffic controllers is housed in the West 4th Street station? Did you know that much of the machinery used to monitor the trains dates back to the 1950s and earlier? In an exclusive video exploring the antiquated system behind subway control, the MTA showcases its very old, very outdated, but still effective technology, and looks to the future of the subway commute with a brand new method of monitoring traffic. That method is called communications-based train control, and, once implemented in trains all over the city, will finally modernize the subway.


nobutaka aozaki form here to there fun maps-NYC-Untapped Cities2All images via Nobutaka Aozaki

Back in 2012, a Japanese conceptual artist by the name of Nobutaka Aozaki started walking around New York City wearing a blue ‘New York’ baseball cap and toting a plastic bag from Century 21. Though not a tourist himself, he posed as one and approached real tourists in the street, asking them for directions to a well-known city attraction, landmark, or building. When they would offer to show him the way on their phones, he’d refuse, saying he would remember better if they drew a little map for him on pieces of paper he provided. Most tourists, unlike busy New Yorkers with little words and even less patience, obliged.

From their drawings sprung ‘From Here to There,’ a ‘map’ of Manhattan made entirely of hand-drawn pointers to famous landmarks and buildings.