Get to know Untapped Cities contributor Marta Elliott who has written about NYC’s real and fake mews, about anarchist history in NYC, and about a hidden bakery in Tribeca:

What’s your “day job”?

By day, I’m a student at NYU who likes to walk everywhere to learn about this ever-evolving city. I’m formally studying Architecture, Urban Design Studies, and Literature, but my curiosities span all 22.7 square miles of this island.

What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?

My favorite Untapped spot in New York is the tiny park on 7th Avenue with the wonderful architectural birdhouses by Vincent Mele. McCarthy Square is just a small bit of a park on a busy avenue, but I find this place really peaceful. There’s never more than 2 people sitting on the benches, enjoying the birdhouses, and taking a break from walking. The park doesn’t pretend to be “a green escape from the bustling city,” it just embraces the cars rushing by and the retail surrounding it. The manifestation of Mele’s craftsmanship is there for such simple enjoyment that I can’t help but stop in this park whenever I have the time.

Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped:

Every time I’ve written for Untapped has been a sort of transaction: each piece has taught me something in exchange for the recognition I’ve given the topic by having it in writing. The one that’s taught me the most was probably Untapped Cities’ 17 Favorite Fictional Books Set in NYC. I compiled the list by asking New York buffs for their favorite literature, and literature experts for their favorite representations of New York. Since I wrote about each book individually, I found myself at the library looking for the ones I hadn’t already read. Since writing the piece, I’ve read five more of the books.

What’s the most surprising and/or valuable thing you learned during your internship?

That I will never know everything about New York City. Writing for Untapped is kind of like hunting down the most interesting and surprising things about this city, both past and present. It’s sometimes challenging, but I’ve had to learn to be constantly on the lookout for cool, interesting places and events. I think I’ll now always have this curiosity in the back of my mind, constantly scanning the city for fun clues into its past and quirky ideas for its present and future.

What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?

I love all the conspiracies that people believe about New York City. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and no one can talk these people out of the conspiracies they believe in. I also think that myths and legends are really important in a place like New York: the more you realize that New York is not what it appears to be, the more you can become a part of its dynamism.

Best Celebrity Sighting:

Whenever Michael Cera is in town for a show he hangs out in the Village out in public like a normal guy. I’ve seen him four or five times now and every time I promise that I’ll speak to him the next time I see him.

What are some of your favorite websites?

I love designboom simply because everything on there is cool and the inventions people come up with blow my mind. I also like reading Narratively, which has great stories with a really human focus, and National Geographic, which I mostly browse for the pictures.  Obviously all of these come second to Untapped Cities!

Read more about the Untapped Cities team here, join us as a contributor or apply to join our Spring 2015 internships here.