Today, we profile Untapped Cities intern Jinwoo Chong, who hails from across the river in New Jersey and writes about many things, but mostly about art and city history.
What’s your “day job”?
I do not have a day job (thanks for the room and board and clothes and food, parents!) I’m a rising junior English major with minors in Computer Science and Studio Art at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. I will need to drive back there will all of my stuff at the end of August, which I am not looking forward to.
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
Since starting work at Untapped I have probably been to Chelsea the most often in search of things to write about. The one gallery I have now seen a handful of shows at is the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street. It’s probably my favorite because it’s about eight times bigger than any other Chelsea space and puts on some equally massive installations, but also because it’s also the coldest, which, considering the current weather, is a welcome change.
Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped:
My favorite piece I’ve ever written was an early video post about the Kings Park Psychiatric Center on Long Island. It was seen 40,000 times in its first two days, and is probably the most visible thing I have ever written in my life. Having only written for local papers with circulations of only a few thousand, that was a bit of a shock.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened while writing for Untapped Cities?
The most memorable (and definitely weirdest) thing I have done while writing this summer was go to the Liberty Inn on the edge of Chelsea Piers to research a story. The Liberty Inn is famous for being one of the last hourly rate hotels in the city, which means people do not go there to sleep, if you know what I mean. I have to say, people were quite surprised to see me there alone with a camera.
What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?
I probably learned the most while researching secrets of the Lincoln Tunnel. The most obscure thing I learned was that in the 70s, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus led a group of their elephants through the tunnel when their train to Madison Square Garden shut down. They paid toll for each of the elephants, according to the New York Times. What I find even weirder is that nobody talked about how, after they got out of the tunnel at 42nd Street, they got thirteen elephants to walk down 8th Avenue to the Garden on 34th Street.
Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
On a family trip to Arizona maybe ten years ago, we got the idea to climb Bell Rock, which is a very scenic tourist destination in the dessert. On our way up, I didn’t notice that there were no longer any signs or guide fences. We had somehow made it to the top, on a stone outcropping that jutted from the edge of the peak over what looked like a thousand foot drop to the ground. There were no fences or warnings. I’m pretty sure we got lost and went to a restricted part of the mountain. We all sat on the edge and took pictures, completely oblivious. I maintain that there was a 90% chance we could have died by falling off and just didn’t realize how dangerous it was.
Best Celebrity Sighting:
I was at the New York Times building Dean & Deluca and, without knowing it, let Ewan McGregor cut in front of me in line for the cash register because I was going back to get a drink. I recognized him as he was leaving and I know it was him because he was performing in a play on Broadway at the time.
What are some of your favorite websites?
As a byproduct of much of my childhood spent wanting to be a reporter for The New York Times, I religiously visit nytimes.com every morning, and thenewyorker.com and harpers.org when I have an extra four hours lying around. When I’m at school and have no time for anything other than sleeping and going to class, I very shamefully stay current with buzzfeed.com and theonion.com.