03/31/14 12:00pm

Red room secret bar above KGB NYC Untapped Cities

There’s nothing secret about KGB Bar, the Soviet-inspired literary outpost in the East Village. Writers—both esteemed and unknown—have been doing readings there for twenty years. But the Red Room above KGB, which traces its roots back to Prohibition, is another story.

Outside on the street, a neon sign announces KGB, but there’s no indication of the Red Room. The building on East 4th Street that houses both bars, as well as the Kraine Theater, was originally a tenement building. In the 1950s and ’60s, the Ukranian Labor Home, a social club for Ukranian socialists, occupied the building. They hosted banquets on the first floor and operated their own private speakeasy on the second floor. But before the Ukranian Labor Home bought the building in 1948, notorious gangster Lucky Luciano ran a speakeasy called the Palm Court there.  (more…)

03/06/14 11:00am

broadway-the-writers-room-new-yorkThe Writer’s Room, birthplace to more than 1,000 books

E.B. White once said, A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.But what if writers stopped waiting for those conditions and tried renting them instead? We here at Untapped Cities have a thing for co-working spaces: last week we told you about The Oracle Club, the week before it was The Yard. Today we offer five spots dedicated exclusively to writers.  (more…)

02/25/14 9:00am

This fun clip that’s being shared around social media lately is from the 1928 silent film Speedy, starring comedian Harold Lloyd and directed by Ted Wilde. It was filmed in New York City, and fans of our vintage photo column may notice some really fun transportation finds, like the 23-foot traffic towers that once graced 5th Avenue across the street from one of the original cast iron subway entrances, double decker public buses, street cars, and elevated trains in Manhattan.

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02/13/14 10:00am

At Untapped Cities, we have a particular interest in repurposed places. New York City has historically been adept at adaptive reuse, though there are plenty of examples of the city forgetting this particular skill too. In addition to NYC’s repurposed bankschurchessynagogues, theaterspsychiatric asylums, and parking garages, here are eight fire stations that have been converted into great uses.

1. Downtown Community Television Center, 87 Lafayette Street

Downtown Community Television Center-Fire Station-Engine Company 31-Lafayette Street-Chinatown-Tribeca-Historic-NYC

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02/12/14 1:00pm

We’ve been noticing a trend lately of places that double as coffee shops and some other kind of shop. It got us wondering, is a good old cuppa joe not enough anymore? Are people so busy that they need to get their coffee and their floral arrangements in the same place? Or are shop owners just so ambitious that they can’t satisfy themselves by only focusing on one thing?

Whatever the answer, we have to admit that these shops are doing something right, and presenting us with some fun and quirky new ways to caffeinate ourselves. From a surf shop/coffee shop to an art gallery/coffee shop, here are 8 of the most interesting examples in NYC. If you know one that isn’t on this list, leave us a comment!

1. Surf Shop/Coffee Shop: Saturdays Surf NYC

saturdays-surf-nyc-coffee-garden-oasis-untapped

If you happen to need a surfboard along with your espresso, Saturdays Surf NYC in Soho is the place to go. Their coffee counter is right next to a display of surfboards. The shop also sells men’s clothes, surf gear, accessories and books. In the warmer months, grab a macchiato and head out back to sit in the courtyard. Saturdays also made our list of the Top 10 Coffee Shops in Manhattan (for Design Buffs). They’ve got a West Village location too.  (more…)

02/11/14 12:00pm

Imagine walking through a discrete doorway, up (or down) stairs, to find yourself in a fine dining restaurant. These are New York City’s hidden restaurants. Like New York City’s hidden bars, these restaurants have unmarked entrances, or are discreetly hidden inside another establishment.  Below we compiled a list of our 10 favorites, from a hidden Nordic eatery inside a Greenpoint bar to a ramen shop hiding in plain sight inside a Whole Foods.

1. La Esquina’s Brasserie

La-Esquina-hidden restaurant in Soho NYC Untapped Cities

In the tiny taqueria La Esquina on the Soho-Nolita border is a grey door simply marked employees only. With a reservation needed to gain entrance, one is brought to a fine dining brasserie in the basement. Serving dishes from Mexican style grilled corn to ceviche, an elevated selection of Mexican food is offered.  (more…)