Here’s a roundup of what the Untapped Staff has been enjoying this week for great city reads!

Belfast, Northern Ireland

How many masterpieces have been painted using 4,000 metric tons of soil and sand and 30,000 wooden stakes? “WISH,” an installation by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, spans 11 acres through a field in a Northern waterfront sector of Belfast. According to The Atlantic, the shy smile depicted on those 11 acres belongs to a six-year-old Belfast resident, and Rodriguez-Garada hopes that her face will inspire a “genuine hope for a brighter future for all of us who share this land.” The installation should last until December 2013––or at least, until it’s plowed over by a forgetful farmer.


Those with particular empathy for their stuffed animals are in luck. For about $35 to $55, the Japanese company Unagi Travel will send your stuffed animals on vacation, complete with photos and postcards sent back to the owner. Packages include guided tours to Tokyo (including a visit to the Shibuya shopping district!), a trip to onsen (hot springs), or a mystery tour where the location is not revealed until the last minute. It may sound odd, but one 51-year-old woman, whose health problems prevent her from traveling, found the idea a charming alternative––”I want to see and walk around the sights that I viewed through my stuffed animal’s journeys someday,” she explained.

New York

And for fans of the glamour and beauty of 19th-century New York, Buzzfeed has a wonderful collection of photographs depicting quotidien street life in the city from the 1800s. (The shot of a newspaper girl and boy is especially charming!)

Good news for some of the 4.3 million of you who ride the subway every day: The MTA has announced that certain trains will have free fare this upcoming Tuesday, in memory of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. A Riders in Rockaways and Howard Beach and R Riders in Brooklyn will enjoy free fare all day long––it seems like a good way to put the MTA’s 1.9 billion dollar surplus to use.

Tianducheng, China

In the middle of Chinese rural area is a replica of Paris––but the town is essentially abandoned. Given the popularity of facsimile cultural communities in China (you can live in a Chinese Orange County or Venice, for instance), a Chinese Paris isn’t necessarily that strange, according to the Smithsonian. Tianducheng was built to support a population of 10,000 and comes with its own 300-foot-tall Eiffel tower and quaint cobblestone neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the town was built two hours west of Shanghai, in the middle of rural China, and after its construction in 2007 almost none of those expected 10,000 residents showed up. Today, only a handful of people rome the streets of the effective ghost town. Still, it’s worth a visit if you’re ever west of Shanghai––you’re not likely to run into crowds.


Meanwhile, in the original Paris, a decaying apartment building is living out its final days as an art project. Spray-painted condemned buildings are nothing new, but at La Tour Paris 13, which we checked out on opening day, over a hundred street artists have collaborated to transform these old apartments, which overlook the Seine, into a canvas for street art. Gallery owner Mehdi Ben Cheikh initiated the project, hoping to turn the building itself into a masterpiece––not just a venue. The Telegraph reports that only 49 people are allowed into the building at once, and that visitors have waited up to eight hours for a one-hour visit. Interestingly, you may run into a resident or two on your tour––a few tenants have stubbornly refused to leave the building until it is literally demolished.

 Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, Linkages, MTA

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