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Bushwick Aberdeen- Anna Brown-Untapped Cities

One of the most amazing things about New York City is its subway system and its many secrets. In the past, Untapped Cities has covered how New Yorkers have creatively occupied these spaces to provide unexpected services such as getting a hair cut,  or having keys made.

This week, we’re calling out the Bushwick Ave-Aberdeen Street stop off the L train. Usually, small businesses house their services within the subway station but at this stop, the subway entrance itself is housed between two used car dealerships–Zaki’s Auto Land and Dawan Motors LLC. The station was built in 1928, but the two car dealerships opened after literally surrounding the entrance.

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Standards-manual-nyc-MTA-untappedImage via Pentagram

Ever wonder about the NYC’s subway signage? Most New Yorkers who use the subway daily have probably never heard of the design firm Unimark. In 1970, designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of Unimark created a language not only for how people would read subway signs, but also the way people would use the NYC subway for the next 44 years. The published document was a 13″ x 13″ Standards Manual held together in a 3-ring binder. And now, Pentagram is hoping to bring it back via a Kickstarter campaign that goes until October 8th. It’s been so popular that they have raised more than 5x the $108,000 goal so far.

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No Ad-Subway App-Street Art-Advertisement-MTA-NYC

Advertisements are like death, taxes and the idea of the Jets not making the Super Bowl this season. An inevitable aspect of life, especially life in NYC. Not all of them are terrible but the majority of ads millions of New Yorker’s normally see inside subway stations are often those for weak McDonald’s coffee, crappy TV shows, movies we hope no one actually pays to see, and products that we have no plan on using, like moon boots (STOP TRYING TO MAKE MOON BOOTS HAPPEN!).

What if we could see more art underground? One of the most memorable things Keith Haring is remembered for is painting on the subway stations, bringing art that would later be seen only in museums to the people underground. This week, we discovered a new app called NO AD. It was developed by a team of designers and street art enthusiasts including the Public Ad CampaignHeavy Projects (Re + Public), and street blogger and photographer Jowy Romano. The basis of this app is to make the subway stations we ride everyday to work, to bars, to our romantic spouse who lives on the other side of the city into a digital art experience.

Continue reading for a video demonstrating the app and a listing of the artists involved in the project.

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Tar-Mastic-NYC Subway-Waterproofing-Sealing-Melting-Drip-Columbus Circle-Subway Station-NYC

Every time we go through Columbus Circle subway station, we wonder about those big patches of black tar-like substance that just keep growing on the subway platforms. Last year, when there wasn’t quite as much, and we thought in passing it might be just a really popular place to throw gum. But this time, the more we poked around the more we saw that the stuff was just all over the place. And, some of it was fresh! Looking up, we could see it dripping from the beams.

Digging into it, lo and behold, Slate dug into this bizarre issue back in May. Turns out it is indeed tar or rather, mastic, as Branko Kleva, assistant chief of the Division of Stations explains. The MTA uses mastic to seal up and waterproof subway infrastructure but when it gets hot, the stuff starts dripping down. Incidentally, tar was also used to black out the beautiful skylights of the now-decommissioned City Hall Subway Station during WWII. 

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Abandoned Platform-Level-Times Square-Port Authority-A-C-E-Aqueduct Racetrack Line-LIRR-8Image by Peter Dougherty via NYCSubway.org

We’ve mentioned the abandoned level below Times Square before in our piece about abandoned subway levels and platforms in New York City. But this is the first time we’re featuring some images of what it looked like when it was operating and after some years of abandonment.

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The Warriors-NYC-Untapped Cities-BAM-Retro Metro-BrooklynThe Warriors (Film Still via The Symmetric)

Stepping into a train car in New York City can do more than just get you to your destination, it can serve as a way for you to see how the identity of the city is transforming before your very eyes. We all know that NYC has been the inspiration for many great works of cinema and through these snapshots in time, we are able to see how the city has evolved. From street cars to graffiti canvases, the NYC subway has a long history, one that has been captured on film for many decades.

From September 26th to October 5th, you can personally see how the NYC subway system has evolved by checking out the newest film series by BAM titled Retro Metro. 16 films, each showcasing a different era of the NYC subway will be shown. The line up includes cult films from the 70′s like The Warriors and the The Taking of Pelham 123. As well as films like Style Wars, Wild Style and Beat Street; tributes to the graffiti and street art culture that began in the 80s.  (more…)