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Abandoned NYC_Will Ellis-Staten Island Farm Colony

On February 4th, longtime Untapped Cities columnist Will Ellis will be giving a talk for our events series about his new book Abandoned NYC at the East Village speakeasy The Red Room. There are just few tickets (free) left to this talk and in preparation we’ve asked Will to share with us his multi-year experience putting together this book.

Untapped: How did you first get into abandoned photography?

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Ken Schles-East Village-Lower East Side-Night Walks-Photography-1980s-NYC.27 AMView from 224 Avenue B. Photo by Ken Schles.

Ken Schles lived in an abandoned building in the East Village in the 1980s, photographing and witnessing drugs and AIDS destroy the people he knew. While the nature of vintage photography often lends itself towards nostalgia for an earlier era, Schles actively fights such characterization of the East Village. As the New York Times writes:

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Jean-Pierre Laffont-Photojournalism-Photograpy-1970s-Bronx-Plymouth Savoy-Vintage Car-NYC

Legendary photojournalist Jean-Pierre Laffont captured the changing times of New York City, covering everything from free love to the grim and gritty ’70s. His photographs always seem to tell more than one story. In one, the Twin Towers soar optimistically over two homeless men sitting next to a freeway pocked-marked with trash. But it was shot in the 70s, when The World Trade Center lay virtually empty, as the city was nearly bankrupt. Another shows a prostitute–her breasts exposed–posing flirtatiously with a police car, at a time when the cops barely had a grip on the huge surge in crime around Times Square.

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Liao-flatiron-nyc-untappedImage via Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao

How to capture the dynamic energy of New York City in a single photograph? “Assembled Realities,” an upcoming exhibit of photographs by Taiwanese photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao at the Museum of the City of New York does just that. Using different techniques and large format photography, Liao pushes the boundaries of the traditional artistic format to capture the city as it is actually viewed–by countless people, from all different perspectives. Telling The New York Times“It’s not real, but your brain says it’s real. I am documenting a concept. It looks documentary. I love to see how an image can be seen on so many different levels by a viewer.”

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powerful-18 Image via US Department of Labor

In honor of 9/11, we’ve pulled together some of the most iconic and powerful images from the tragic event thirteen years ago that are available at Getty Images and the Library of Congress. If you’re in New York City today, there are many places where you can pay your respects, including these ten locations that won’t have you on lines at the World Trade Center site. (more…)

Basketball players in front of Daniel Hauben's "Under the El," installed by the MTA on Freeman Street in 2005

Basketball players in front of Daniel Hauben’s “Under the El,” installed by the MTA on Freeman Street in 2005

When we headed up to Freeman Street in the Bronx to see the new Seis del Sur photo exhibit, Sin Límites, we were certainly surprised. This once discouraged-looking elevated stop is hopping with cultural draws. As you get off the train you’ll see elegant panels of colored faceted glass illustrating different subway scenes. Called “The El,” the six panels were created by artist Daniel Hauben, once dubbed the “Bruegel of the Bronx” by the New York Times, who was commissioned by the MTA’s Arts for Transit project in 2005.

Given that the original Seis del Sur exhibit, Dispatches from Home, documented some of the most dramatic and disturbing graffiti in the history of New York, visitors might be justifiably surprised to see the pristine condition of these public art works. Yet pristine they are—not a cracked piece of glass or ugly vandalism as far as the eye can see.

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