03/10/14 2:00pm

Roosevelt-Island-Tramway-Queensboro-Bridge-Manhattan-NYCImage via Flickr user scarlatti2004

While the Roosevelt Island Tramway only takes about 3 minutes to travel to and from Manhattan, it’s probably the most pleasant commute in the city. Even the abundance of subway art can’t compete with the tram’s view of Midtown East. This aerial tram has been in operation since 1976 and continues to make about 115 trips per day. The cars run frequently and remain open until 2 AM. The tram was also the last transit system to continue using tokens, switching to MetroCards only in 2004.  (more…)

10/22/13 2:00pm

Roosevelt Island-Power Plant-Museum of Technology Art and Science-NYC_19-001

Earlier this year, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) regarding the steam plant that sits just behind the tram station. Although the RFEI specifically targets real estate developers for the adaptive reuse of the 56,000 square foot space, one self-started community organization had been eyeing the property for over a year. The Friends of the Roosevelt Island Steam Plant (FRISP) hope to transform the building and surrounding vacant land into a Museum for Technology, Art and Science (MOTAAS). Not only would the subject matter be appropriate for the forthcoming Cornell University/Technion campus, the members of FRISP also believe that the steam plant is a piece of history that stands as testament to the technologically innovative spirit of Roosevelt Island.


10/18/13 1:00pm

Here are our picks from the best of the Untapped Cities Photo Pool, featuring works of intrepid Untapped Cities readers and explorers. To submit to our weekly roundup of the best of the Untapped Cities Photo Pool, hashtag your photos #untappedcities. Also, follow along to see what others are snapping!

Protecting the Banksy in Bed Stuy with Plexiglass by vincepix:

Saving Banksy-Bed Stuy-Vincepix-Brooklyn-Plexiglass-Japanese Women Footbridge-Kimono (more…)

08/06/13 10:00am

"N.Y. Post Office Pneumatic Tube" c. 1912.  G.G. Bain Collection.“N.Y. Post Office Pneumatic Tube” c. 1912. G.G. Bain Collection via Flickr.

Earlier this year, we looked into the pneumatic tube system that used to carry mail between post offices in New York City. The system was 27 miles long and connected 23 post offices, and included tubes over the Brooklyn Bridge to connect the General Post Office in Brooklyn to Church Street in Manhattan. The USPS stopped using the system fully in 1953. Last week, Untapped reader @Charlesinist asked us “Anyone know where I can see remnants of the old US mail pneumatic tubes in NYC?”

Today, we’ll show you where some remnants of the system are and where pneumatic tubes are still used in the city.


08/02/13 9:00am

01-former banks-repurposed-nyc-untapped cities-wesley yiin

We’ve been on a kick lately tracking down re-purposed buildings in NYC, finding out the new uses for churches, synagogues and psychiatric asylums. Today, we’re on to former banks that have since been occupied by businesses that are largely distinct from the financial industry.


07/30/13 9:00am

If you found out that the building you lived or worked in was once an asylum, would you move out? Or would you stay, and risk going crazy yourself at the hands of the ghosts of former patients? Today, we’re rounding up some of New York City’s former asylums. Some are extremely creepy; others you would never expect to have once housed the clinically insane.

1. The Octagon (888 Main Street, Roosevelt Island)

06-former asylums-convert-nyc-untapped cities-wesley yiin

This high end apartment complex on Roosevelt Island was so beautifully restored that it’s hard to believe it was once the decrepit New York City Lunatic Asylum, which opened in 1841. In fact, this was the very asylum that journalist Nellie Bly notoriously checked herself into and then slammed in her exposé Ten Days in a Mad-House. This iconic building, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed at this site because its pleasant island location was thought to be soothing to the mentally ill patients. Ironically, as explained by Bly, the hospital’s poor conditions probably nullified any environmental healing that occurred.  (more…)