This week we profile Untapped Cities contributor Alex McQuilkin, who has written about diverse urban issues for Untapped Cities, from locating NYC’s smallest park, looking at Times Square’s seedy past, transportation ideas for a better NYC, micro-apartments, and going behind the scenes at the Governors Island construction.
What’s your “day job”?
I’m a market researcher for a real estate investment firm. I analyze demographic and economic trends of east coast cities to help determine the next “hot” investment opportunities.
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
I love riding my bike through the industrial areas around Newtown Creek like Bushwick and Maspeth. It’s a behind-the-scenes look into some of the gritty workings of the city that I think a lot of New Yorkers take for granted.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped
I really enjoyed taking a tour of the old Little Syria neighborhood in what is now part of the financial district. This city has so many stories that aren’t immediately apparent to the casual passerby.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened while writing for Untapped Cities?
When I was writing about the Seaport Museum’s struggle to reopen post-Sandy, I told the lady at the front desk I was writing for a local online magazine called Untapped Cities and she said she loved it and reads it frequently. That was pretty cool.
What’s your favorite Untapped place you’ve visited while traveling? Where do you want to visit next?
I’m a big water person so the floating villages in Malaysia are probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. St. Petersburg’s canals are next on my list.
What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?
I don’t think a lot of people realize Staten Island is the fastest-growing of the boroughs. If we don’t start building smarter down there, we’re going to run out of space to grow.
Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I once went hiking in the desert in southern California, and on top of almost running out of water, we inadvertently crossed the border into Mexico and since we hadn’t brought our passports we had to be escorted back to the parking lot by the border patrol!
Best Celebrity Sighting:
I recently saw Jay-Z, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake hanging at a divey sports bar in Prospect Heights. Everybody was trying to act so casual but you could tell they were all there for the celebs because once they left, the place emptied out!
What are some of your favorite websites? I always check bldgblog and FlowingData when I’m in need of inspiration. And of course Curbed to stay up-to-date on what’s going up and coming down around town.