2017 has been a busy and exciting year for us here at Untapped Cities: we unearthed fascinating secrets about New York City, launched new features on our site and introduced new, behind-the-scenes experiences to our readers — all with the goal of helping locals and visitors rediscover their city.
As we head into 2018, we’re very excited to see what’s in store for the future. To kick things off with a bang, we sought out some of the most unique and quirky New Year’s Eve activities taking place across the city. In the event you want to avoid Times Square (and the crowds that will form to watch the ball drop), here are our suggestions:
10. Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Ellis Island Hospital
The abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex—once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center)—has been left to decay for nearly 60 years. Now, Untapped Cities is bringing you behind-the-scenes for an unique exploration of the abandoned facility; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.
While Ellis Island has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year, the 22-building South Side hospital complex is hidden in plain sight, just to the left of disembarking passengers headed towards the Great Hall. Looking at its desolate, skeletal frame now, it’s difficult to imagine its backstory as one of the largest public health undertakings in American history. Join us for our upcoming hard hat tour, guided by a Save Ellis Island docent, where we’ll uncover its many, buried secrets.
9. Third Annual Surrealist Ball at the Roxy Hotel
The Third Annual New Year’s Eve Surrealist Ball takes place at the Roxy Hotel, featuring live music, exquisite costumes, an open bar, music by David Johansen and a live installation by Muffinhead. Channel your inner Dali (or Lady Gaga) and dress to impress as you party with special guests from New York City’s art and fashion worlds.
The event, regarded as the modern-day version of the 1970’s ball by Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, pays homage to notable figures like Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali and Man Ray. Purchase tickets here.
7. Tour of the Subway and Brooklyn Bridge
Image by @nulooks
Beyond the Brooklyn Bridge’s stately exterior lies an epic origin story. Now over 130 years old, the granite and limestone structure has dazzled both tourists and residents alike. On our newest tour, author, playwright and Untapped Cities’ tour guide Justin Rivers will not only unpack the history behind the Brooklyn Bridge, but also explore its many hidden secrets. Our unique walking tour will give you a whole new appreciation for one of New York’s most iconic landmarks.
Inside the Chambers Street station in Lower Manhattan
If you’re a transit buff, also make sure to check out our tour of the New York City subway. Take a ride through the living history of the world’s largest rapid transit system (in area) by weaving in and out of the past and present transit hubs of lower Manhattan. This unique tour is designed to give a comprehensive history of the NYC Subway system, from its groundbreaking in 1901 up through the creation of the three different proprietary lines which were unified into the system we know today. We’ll uncover information and learn about spaces even the most seasoned commuter might not know about.
This tour will stop in stations that are all open to the public. Using the 6 train as our own ten-car time machine, we will ride through and see three abandoned ghost stations that 4, 5, and 6 riders unknowingly pass through everyday: Worth Street, 18th Street and the famed City Hall Station. We will not stop inside these stations.
6. Fireworks at Prospect Park
Fireworks aren’t just reserved for Independence Day: join the Prospect Park Alliance for its 38th annual fireworks display, which will include live entertainment beginning at 10:30pm. When midnight approaches, fireworks will go off at Long Meadow.
Head to the following places for the best vantage points: Grand Army Plaza, the Park’s West Drive, and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street.
5. New Year’s Eve Peace Concert
The New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace will take place from 7pm to 9 pm at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. If you’re seeking a calm way to ring in 2018, head to this signature Cathedral event, which was cofounded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984.
This year, the concert will include readings, meditations, as well as performances of Joseph Haydn’s Te Deum and the U.S. premiere of See the Wretched Strangers by composer Lucas Wiegerink. While the event is free and open to the public, seats are limited. Ticketed seating is also available in case you want to reserve a spot.
4. BangOn! NYC New Year’s Eve: Time and Space
BangOn! NYC New Year’s Eve: Time and Space will take place in a secret location in East Williamsburg. According to the site, there will be plenty of exciting elements to watch out for, including a spinning planetarium, aerialists, “psychedelic” art installations, a silent disco, art cars, fire-breathers and much more.
There will also be two full stages of music, where artists like Claptone, ASADI and FDVM will perform.
3. New Year’s Eve Ride
At 9:30pm on New Year’s Eve, meet at the park in front of the Plaza Hotel (59th Street and 5th Avenue) for a bike ride, which will take you to Time’s Up’s Musical After-Party at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space. The celebration will include performances from live punk bands, 80s dance music and slide shows by East Village activist/artists.
2. New Year’s Eve Meditation
1. NYRR Midnight Run
Burn off some of your holiday calories (and get a kick start on your New Year’s resolutions) by joining the New York Road Runners for a midnight run. Taking place in Central Park, the 4-mile dash will kick off with a pre-run festival that will include music and lots spontaneous dancing. The night will also wrap up with a fireworks display.
While this run is meant to be fun, it also offers sweet monetary prizes for the fastest dashers. Register for the event here.