lights of new york poster1928-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via museum.walterfilm.com

87 years ago at midnight on July 6th, audiences in New York saw a talkie for the first time in history. “Lights of New York,” which premiered nationwide a few weeks later, was screened at the Strand Theatre in Times Square and was billed as the world’s first ‘all-talking’ motion picture. The film, a pioneer of the 30s-era crime dramas that captivated audiences, nevertheless garnered a lukewarm reception from critics, especially a New York Times review that called the plot “crude in the extreme.”

But, the picture’s gross of $1,000,000, a veritable blockbuster for its time, seems to show that most audiences weren’t there to absorb the plot.


times SquareA Year on Broadway: Times Square, 45th to 46th Street, December 17, 2014″ Image via roberthenrycontemporary.com

Ever the cataloguer of the city’s facades, corners, and stories, 58-year old New York artist Elise Engler has drawn every single block of Broadway on its own sheet of paper. Each one, rounding out at around 6 by 12 inches, depicts a different intersection of the historic street, all two hundred and fifty-something blocks of it. Engler, recently featured in The New Yorker, is no stranger to such painstakingly executed detail. In the 90s, she drew an 85-square foot tableau of her worldly possessions, titled “Everything I Own.” This new project, called “A Year On Broadway,” took exactly 365 days to complete. She started on both ends, working her way down until she hit West 107th Street where her studio was located, on the very last day. Part of an astounding work of discipline and realism, each portrait (as they should really be called) needs few descriptors

Here are eleven of Engler’s most intriguing snapshots.


NYC The Manhattan Bridge-Eric Rosner-IllustrationThe Manhattan Bridge under construction by Eric Rosner

You might recognize Eric Rosner‘s illustrated work from his street art on the walls of New York City. Using ink marker, Rosner has a sketch style that brings a vitality to New York City’s architecture–the buildings seem to emerge and flow upwards from the activity that one imagines was in the streets during the Gilded Age. Our knowledge of that time period, of which Rosner has a penchant for, comes from the staid, black and white vintage photography so oft-circulated. While those images are beautiful, they don’t always capture the hustle and bustle that characterized this particular era–the first skyscrapers, technological advancement, and the rise and fall of great fortunes.


Long Acre Square-Times Square-Vintage Photo-New York

Times Square has become so synonymous with New York City that many visitors and residents alike don’t stop to think about where the name came from. This origin story goes back 111 years, to April 8, 1904, when Mayor George McClellan renamed Longacre Square for the proud newspaper that had just relocated to the block.


On Quora, we came across a great Cities 101 question about the logic behind the selection of Manhattan’s Cross Streets (and one of our photographs of Columbus Circle in the answer). In a thorough recap, Raj Bhuptani, a ’13 Statistics graduate from Harvard and a Quantitative Research Analyst at Two Sigma Investments, provides an answer which he has allowed us to republish here (additional hyperlinks added by us).

Question: What’s the logic to the selection of Manhattan’s major cross streets (14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 59th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th)?

Raj’s Answer:


PopUpForest_Times Square_Untapped Cities_bhushan-catherine mondkar-001

Times Square will soon be adorned by a forested landscape nestled within its brightest urban-scape. A wildly successful Kickstarter for a PopUp Forest aims to transform Times Square into an urban oasis in the summer of 2016, with towering trees, native wildflowers, and ferns installed overnight amidst the glitter and glow.