5 Beekman Place-Temple Court-Beekman Residences-Interior-NYCInterior court of 5 Beekman, soon to be Beekman Residences. Photo by Rob Boudon

We’ve already covered the renovation plans that began a little while ago for 5 Beekman Place, the impressive Temple Court. The building, once an abandoned favorite for New York City’s explorers, is in the midst of restoration to become the Beekman Hotel. As this renovation takes place and with the hotel opening on February 1, 2016, we’ve compiled some of our favorite secrets of this address.


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.


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.” 


Public Theater-Lafayette Street-Astor Place-New York Symphony-Film Locations-Mozart in the Jungle-Amazon

The show Mozart in the Jungle, a commissioned series by Amazon for Prime Instant Video will return for a second season this fall starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke and Jason Schwartzman. Based in New York City and inspired by the book Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, a memoir by oboe player Blair Tindall, the show is set in New York City and follows the trials and tribulations of Hailey, an oboe player and her encounters with Rodrigo, the international superstar who is the new music director and conductor of the troubled (and fictional) New York Symphony.

Beyond an entertaining, binge-worthy first season, Mozart in the Jungle features some wonderful film locations, which urban explorers will recognize. It’s clear the film scouts on this show knows their stuff about New York City and its alternative side. Here are some highlights of New York City film locations from the first season:


New York University, University Heights Campus, photo 1904. Via Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.

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 Bronx Community College, the first community college to be declared a National Historic Landmark, which is located in the former University Heights campus of New York University. Its Beaux-Arts buildings, which include the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, were designed by the celebrated architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White.

In the early 1890s NYU purchased the Mali Estate, a 40-acre site in the Bronx on a bluff overlooking the Harlem River. At the time, much of the neighborhood around NYU’s buildings in Greenwich Village consisted of crowded tenements and factories. The new site enabled NYU to create a campus of monumental buildings and open lawns with fresh air and river views.

New York University, circa 1900-1910. Via Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division. Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.

This was part of a larger trend. For similar reasons, Columbia University relocated from Midtown to Morningside Heights in 1897 and City College moved from East 23rd Street to West Harlem in 1907.

Emphasizing the site’s hilltop location, NYU’s new campus was called University Heights, a name that was also applied to the surrounding neighborhood.

“New York University, New York City” circa 1904. Image via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.

Stanford White‘s master plan for the University Heights campus included several buildings arranged around a quadrangle. Designed in a Beaux-Arts style described as “American Renaissance,” they were completed between 1894 and 1912. The centerpiece of the plan was Gould Memorial Library, which features a dome that has become an iconic symbol of the campus.

Butler Hall, former Mali Mansion, built about 1859

In addition to White’s new buildings, NYU adaptively reused existing structures on the property including the Mali Mansion, which was converted into Charles Butler Hall. Butler Hall initially served as a dormitory until larger facilities were built.

1901 Image via NY Public Library Digital Collections. Art and Picture Collection.

Hall of Fame for Great Americans

A few years after the campus opened, NYU established a new institution called the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Stanford White designed a colonnaded-terrace encircling the rear of the Gould Memorial Library in which busts of famous Americans were placed. Once a popular tourist attraction, the Hall of Fame is largely forgotten but is still located on the site.

Gould Memorial Library (1900), no longer a library, now offices

Hall of Languages, first Stanford White building completed at University Heights (1894)

Gould Residence Hall (1896), now classrooms and offices

Hall of Philosophy (1912), the campus’ final Stanford White-designed building

University Heights in effect became the main campus of NYU, housing the undergraduate programs. However, NYU retained its Greenwich Village buildings for graduate programs, which would prove decisive to the later history of the University Heights campus.

One of the Later Additions, Modernist Style: Meister Hall, Marcel Breuer & Associates (1967). Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by yusunkwon

Subsequent to the construction of White’s buildings, NYU’s University Heights campus continued to grow during the next several decades. Later NYU buildings, designed in a variety of architectural styles, are not part of the National Historic Landmark designation.

In the early 1970s, NYU, which was in financial distress, decided to leave University Heights and retrench in the Village. NYU sold the campus to the state Dormitory Authority, which enabled Bronx Community College to move there in 1973.

University Heights Campus Newest Building, A Contextual Design: North Hall and Library, Robert A.M. Stern Architects (2012) facing Stanford White’s Quad

Bronx Community College up until then lacked a cohesive campus and had been spread across eight buildings in the nearby Fordham Heights neighborhood. Thanks to NYU’s move, Bronx Community College inherited an architectural masterpiece.

Next, read about NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall, built in 1951, which portended the university’s renewed focus on expanding around Washington Square.

With fall and the back to school season coming up, Untapped Cites is uncovering the hidden and little known past uses of some of New York City’s colleges. Today we look at Vanderbilt Hall, home of the New York University School of Law, located at 40 Washington Square South in Greenwich Village.

In the late 1940s when New York University announced plans to develop Vanderbilt Hall, a new home for its Law School, many local residents rallied to “Save Washington Square” from a project that they charged would debase the area’s character. In a case of history coming full circle, in 2013 historic preservationists hailed the inclusion of Vanderbilt Hall in the South Village Historic District.