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The Woolworth Building via Dorothy Anne Wise Whitworth

The Woolworth Building via Dorothy Anne Wise Whitworth

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25: Tonight is the last evening of the Citi Pond Winter Film Festival at Bryant Park. Tonight Grease will be shown on a screen overlooking the ice skating rink. The screen is perfectly situated to watch as you spin around the ice, from a table and chair on the deck surrounding the Pond, or from a cozy spot at Celsius. Bring a blanket, grab a hot chocolate and snuggle up for a film festival unlike any other! 7pm at Citi Pond at Bryant Park. FREE. (more…)

Where Los Angeles is Buried – At Evergreen Memorial Park and Crematorium
Untapped Cities - At Evergreen Memorial Park and Crematorium

A map of Los Angeles from approximately 1849

There are certain things every city needs; a hospital, a fire station, a local government, and a place to bury their dead. On a hot, dry August day in 1877, Mayor Frederick A. MacDougal of Los Angeles officially established Evergreen Memorial Park, in what is now known as Boyle Heights, as the first official and sanctioned cemetery in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles was still a rural, dry, brutal place in 1877. Only 27 years prior, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted into the United States as a free state, therefore stopping the expansion of slavery into the west. The Great California Gold Rush in the mid 1850s brought over 300,000 new settlers into the state. The influx of people coming to grab their share of gold and land led to a sort of lawlessness not just between settlers, but between settlers and the Native Americans who had called this land home for generations. Between 1850 and 1860, the California government paid nearly 1.5 million dollars to militias to “protect” their citizens from these Native Americans.

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As Far As Marionettes Can See – At The Bob Baker Marionette Theater
Untapped Cities - The Bob Baker Marionette Theatre Los Angeles

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater

It was 1961, Bob Baker was looking for a place for him and his beloved marionettes to call their own. Handcrafted and each with  its own distinctive “personality,” the Bob Baker Marionette Theater was more than just puppets with strings. And they needed a home.

Baker’s life as a puppeteer began when he was only eight, for he was something of a child prodigy. He was already giving professional performances at a young age for several different LA-based puppeteering companies. By the time he was in high school, he  was making and selling his marionettes in the United States and abroad. Within two years of high school graduation, he was the head animator of Puppetoons, the Academy-Award nominated studio that popularized stop motion puppet animation. After World War II and in his early 20s, Baker became an animation supervisor and consultant for multiple film studios, including one studio upstart ran by an intense fellow named Walt Disney.

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Untapped New York events the-listening

Our curated events picks for this week: Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers at MCNY, The Listening fundraiser for the Rockaways, 16mm cartoon screening with The Obscura Society.

MONDAY, JANUARY 21: When World War II broke out, New York was a cosmopolitan, heavily immigrant city, whose people had real stakes in the war and strongly held opinions. Join curator Marci Reaven for a tour of the new exhibition WWII & NYC as she explains the impact of the war on the city, which played a critical role in the national war effort, and how the city was forever changed. 11am at the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (between 76th & 77th). $18 members; $30 general public. Buy tickets here.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 22: The Kitchen L.A.B. with Jacob Kassay, Ralph Lemon, Tristan Perich, Lynne Tillman, Eric Dyer and Maggie Hoffman. The Kitchen L.A.B. is a new program devoted to presenting, discussing, and developing interdisciplinary works revolving around themes of common interest to artists in different fields””and, more specifically, considering the meaning and uses of specific words in contemporary art. 7pm at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street. FREE. RSVP on Facebook.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23: Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers showcases innovative design solutions to better accommodate New York City’s changing, and sometimes surprising, demographics, including a rising number of single people, and will feature a full-sized, flexibly furnished micro-studio apartment of just 325 square feet — a size prohibited in most areas of the city. Visitors to the exhibition will see models and drawings of housing designs by architectural teams commissioned in 2011 by Citizens Housing & Planning Council, in partnership with the Architectural League of New York. The exhibition also presents winning designs from the Bloomberg administration’s recently launched pilot competition to test new housing models, as well as examples set by other cities in the United States and around the world, including Seattle, Providence, Montreal, San Diego, and Tokyo. Museum of the City of New York, 1220 5th Ave. Suggested admission: $10 adults; $6 students/seniors.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24: The Vanderbilt Republic and Untapped New York proudly present THE LISTENING: Vol. II. A Listening Session & Fundraiser for the Far Rockaway Redevelopment Fund. Arin Maya 8pm, Artist Talk 8.30pm, Helioscope 9pm, Batala NYC 9.30pm. Featuring an installation by Athena Azevedo, Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster & TJ Volonis, Curated by George Del Barrio. Doors 7pm at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Brooklyn. $20 advance / pay as you can at the door. Buy tickets here.

Also on Thursday: Paolo Ventura’s luminous and haunting photographs function as architectural relics of the imagination, portraying characters and scenarios that are magical, poignant and strangely familiar. Referencing history, art and the subconscious, Ventura’s “invented worlds,” as he calls them, tell stories — some of which he was told as a child by his father, an author of children’s books, and others imagined by the artist himself. Ventura creates his otherworldly photographs by constructing intricate miniature sets and then photographing them, first with a Polaroid for reference and finally with a Pentax 6 x 7 camera. 6-8pm at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue. FREE. RSVP here.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25: Join archivist and projectionist, Tom Stathes, for a special screening celebrating the seasons with The Obscura Society. As Winter 2013 draws on, Tom Stathes has curated animated cartoons from the 1920s-1930s for every season of the year. Searching his vast stacks of 16mm animation rarities and Tom has hand-selected a wide array of gems: frolicking Springtime fun and hot Summer calamities for those with a warmer temperament, and breezy, cool Autumn shenanigans as well as snowy Winter escapades for those who relish the cold months. For a glimpse into past visions of the seasons as depicted by the merry-makers of early film animation, come enjoy the latest screening—shown in real 16mm film, with a real projector—a unique experience you’ll be sure to enjoy! 7:30pm at The Observatory, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn. $12. Buy tickets here.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26: 100 years ago, in 1913, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors to the public and on August 2, 1967, NYC’s recently established Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Terminal as an official NYC landmark. Join LANDMARK WEST! and The Museum of the City of New York as we celebrate the centennial and discover why this impressive structure is so very worthy of that designation. A Landmark designation is not to be taken for granted: if it was not for fierce and unwavering preservation advocacy, NYers and citizens of the world would be deprived of this building’s splendor today. 1-3pm inside the Atrium of 120 Park Avenue (opposite Grand Central). $20 members; $25 non-members. RSVP to landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org, or call 212-496-8110.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 27: During its six-month run, Frej was an unlikely phenomenon: a seventeen-seat New Nordic pop-up serving a $45 tasting menu Monday through Wednesday in a Williamsburg design studio. Aska, its newly expanded replacement, has gained two extra nights of service (Sunday and Thursday), an additional twelve-seat dining room, and a new partner, general manager Eamon Rockey, whose cocktails share a Scandinavian-inspired, herbal sensibility with chef Fredrik Berselius’s cuisine. The prix fixe menu, now $65 for six to eight small-plate courses, integrates plants like yarrow, lichen, and seaweed, focusing on vegetables and often treating protein as a garnish. 6-10pm at Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn. $65. RSVP info@askanyc.com

Just the Gritty: Behind the Scenes Gardening on Alcatraz with Atlas Obscura

Have you ever had the urge to push aside the “Do Not Enter” signs and explore the unknown? I do pretty much every day. It’s almost like a dare -the best stuff is beyond this sign…do you dare break the rules to discover it? Perhaps that’s just me, but somehow I doubt it. On my last assignment I got to do just that, but legally! That’s right, Just the Gritty is on the straight and narrow. Apparently all I had to do was join up with Atlas Obscura, a “compendium of amazing places that aren’t found in your average guidebook.”

So one weekend a little while ago, fellow Untapped Cities writer Faern and I hit up Alcatraz Island with this awesome group of guides. What a day it was! I’m ever-curious about the unknown, and that day was full of exploration and discovery. The day was all about the gardens of Alcatraz, both public and secret.

From the very beginning we got to go in the opposite direction of the main tour groups. Number one, that means fewer people (tourists) to deal with. Number two, we got all sorts of well-deserved jealous looks.

Our first stop was with our guest tour guide of the day from The Garden Conservancy. She took us aside and gave us a brief history on the gardens of Alcatraz, complete with photos from the island’s ‘glory’ days. I had no idea how many uses the island has had – it wasn’t just a prison. We then moved up the hill to get our work gloves for the day. That right, this wasn’t a passive tour. Instead, half our day was going to be spent volunteering in one of the gardens.

We walked all over the grounds – from the hidden gardens (unseen from the public roads), to the large prisoner’s gardens on the far side of the island. We stopped at about 8 different points for brief history lessons and were given ample time to roam and, in my case, take all sorts of photos. So here you have them, a smattering of images from my day on the Rock. Seriously, look up the Obscura Society and get involved with them. The guides were all awesome, and the day will go down in history for me. What an opportunity; not just to go beyond the usual public reach, but to actually dig and volunteer in the beautiful historic gardens. This girl is still smiling.

Get in touch with the author @justthegritty.

Atlas Obscura launches the Obscura Society at Proteus Gowanus

Tucked away in the recesses of Gowanus, Brooklyn, lies a fascinating compendium of interdisciplinary collaboration in what is known as the Proteus Gowanus. Within this multifaceted art space, eight “projects-in-residence” simultaneously occupy sections of the building, thereby appealing to a wide range of visitors looking for hidden treasures and rare oddities.

Just outside the Proteus  Gowanus

One such “project-in-residence” is the Observatory; a room just off the main gallery, hosting lecture series’, exhibitions, screenings and classes with the idea of promoting the 18th  century notion of “rational amusement.” Here, it is likely to witness something obscure in today’s modern times, but nonetheless sparking curiosity and even wonder.

This past Friday evening, I had the privilege of attending one such screening; Tom Stathes Cartoon Carnival #10 featuring cartoons rendered between 1910s to the 1940s. As I sat down, it felt as if I had immediately stepped back in time, with the clicking of the 16mm film reel faintly in the background as the room focused in on the black and white characters bouncing across the screen. Familiar characters such as Felix the Cat once again had the ability to capture the room’s attention, just as if we were children, but with much greater understanding of the plot line of each short picture. After every clip, the audience applauded, which felt reminiscent of vintage film screenings of years past. Tom Stathes had compiled this selection as a cartoon cryptozoologist, and you could sense the care that went into selecting each cartoon as an example of its age.

Poster of Tom Stathes Cartoon Carnival

Tom Stathes, Cryptozoologist

This particular screening is one of many put forth by Atlas Obscura, an online guidebook dedicated to finding “the world’s most wonderful places.” Atlas Obscura documents stumbled upon entities, encouraging travelers’ exploration of something new and exciting. At the Observatory, Atlas Obscura’s real world arm, the Obscura Society, hosts an “Atlas Obscura Speakers” series featuring many unique topics including “Finding History in Sewers” and “Speakeasy Dollhouse: Solving Murders with Diorama Crime Scenes.”

The Observatory also features other collaborations with other “projects-in-residence” such as the Morbid Anatomy Library, and Phantasmaphile. The room itself also hosts a rotating exhibition space. Currently, the room is host to the Sigils and Signs art show, which showcases art as a medium of spells and magic. The current exhibition is set to remain in the Observatory until June 17tjh, 2012.

Sigils and Signs Exhibition

The Proteus Gowanus space is a hidden gem within the Brooklyn landscape, offering a glimpse of unusual artifacts, genuinely thought provoking displays of artwork, and a chance to experience something from another time. Because of the compilation of many different focuses in one building, there is something novel to encounter time and time again.