Immense, powerful, sublime, tranquil… these are the words which propagate within each person as they step into the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. The enormity of the space, along with the play of light within the expanse, leaves one in deep serenity for just a split second. In the next moment, the viewer wants nothing but to explore this superb space.

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Gazing upwards, one notices the highly visible netting covering the entire ceiling which was put in place after the 5.8 earthquake struck in 2011. On that day, cracks raced across the ceiling and masonry fell as the quake hit. The Cathedral was closed for some time, and the netting went up. And now the net sits high atop the congregation reminding everyone how powerful nature can be, while the enormity and beauty of the space reminds everyone how powerful one’s spiritual beliefs can be.  (more…)

Ellis Island-South Side Hospitals-Abandoned-Clara Daily-019The well-known autopsy amphitheater, with an 8-cadaver refrigerator (in the slideshow below). Photo by Clara Ward.

The abandoned Ellis Island South Side Hospitals were one of our favorite locations we covered last year, as part of our role as Blog Ambassadors for the American Express/National Trust for Historic Preservation Partners in Preservation campaign. At its prime, it was a cutting-edge facility due to its highly skilled staff and the design of the building, which enabled the curing and isolation of infectious diseases, brought over by some of the the 10 to 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. Not everything was a success, such as the discredited eugenics practices, as explored in a 2007 documentary covered by The New York Times. With tighter immigration policies in the 1920s, the hospital steadily declined and was fully abandoned in 1954.

The organization Save Ellis Island has been battling to save these lesser-known buildings of Ellis Island, with some setbacks from Superstorm Sandy. Clara Daily has taken these remarkable photos of the South Side Hospitals and shared them with Untapped Cities. Read more at Save Ellis Island.

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich. See more from Clara Daly at her website ward9.com.

Thanks to your readership and voting, four winners have been selected in the 2012 Partners in Preservation popular vote. Check out Untapped Cities’ coverage of the many locations in this year’s contest.

·                 Brooklyn Public Library, located in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, received 9% of the popular vote and has been awarded $250,000 to restore the main entrance doors.

·                 Congregation Beth Elohim, located in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, received 8% of the popular vote and has been awarded $250,000 to restore the building’s stained glass windows.

·                 New York Botanical Gardens, located in the Bronx, received 7% of the popular vote and has been awarded $250,000 to restore the rock garden.

·                 Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, located in the Bronx, received 7% of the popular vote and has been awarded $155,000 to restore areas within the museum’s gardens.

A Partners in Preservation advisory committee of community and preservation leaders, will select the sites that will receive the rest of the $2.1 million in grants””this will be announced in June.

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Olmstead and Vaux’s 1865 proposal for Prospect Park in south central Brooklyn provided a cultural community anchor for the expanding borough.  The vision for Brooklyn’s Central Park equivalent would include the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and the Brooklyn Public Library. The Brooklyn Public Library was prominently placed at the mouth of the great park entrance, and on the ellipse of Grand Army Plaza with its Soldiers’ and Sailers’ Arch. The site location would influence the buildings design and subsequent building campaigns.


Weeksville Heritage Center is a vibrant space nestled in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. Upon entry, one is greeted by Weeksville employees eager to give a tour of the historic homes, community garden area and the open lawn used as a staging space for performances. When I visited, Brooklyn Academy of Music‘s  DanceAfrica performed in celebration of their 35 years of existence in New York City for Weeksville visitors. The positive energy of the dance troupe and smiling faces in the crowd revealed the type of creative and welcoming atmosphere Weekville nurtures as a staple in the the local community.

Instrument Used By the DanceAfrica Troupe

DanceAfrica’s Performance on the Weeksville Stage

The beauty of Weeksville is the history it lends to New York City. Weeksville is one of the country’s first free black communities formed before the Civil War. Currently, the existing property has four historic homes named the Hunterfly Road Houses. Each represents a different era in Weeksville’s history, which began when an African-American longshoreman named James Weeks bought this plot of land in present-day Crown Heights in 1838, 11 years after New York State abolished slavery.

a Historic Hunterfly Road House

Currently, Weeksville is expanding its facilities to include a 19,000 square foot Education and Cultural Arts building which accommodate a larger community garden space, a spacious common area and an updated outdoor stage. The new building will open in 2013. The improvement is needed in order to accommodate Weeksville’s expanding programs which include teaching teens how to garden, fostering youth volunteer initiatives and creating a community performance arts space.

Weeksville’s Current Community Garden Area

a Period Photo Opportunity

With potential funds from a Partners in Preservation grant (awarded through voting by readers like you),the organization hopes to  adapt an existing c. 1930 shed structure for an environmental and food-growing museum exhibit and program space and to recreate a root cellar — an historic feature since removed—in an existing c. 1870 house known as 1698 Bergen Street.

Click  here  to vote for Weeksville Heritage Center in Partners in Preservation and find out more about the center on Twitter and  Facebook. Follow Untapped Cities on  Twitter  and  Facebook.

Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category.

View of the auditorium from the balcony.

The Apollo Theater opened on December 15, 1913 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. The 1,853 seat theater is located in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. It was designed by architect George Keister who is also known for the American Airlines Theatre in Times Square.