This week Untapped Cities tours will bring you behind-the-scenes at the abandoned hospital complex at Ellis Island, inside the off-limits Woolworth Building, and reveal the secrets of Grand Central station. Plus, if you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can take part in exciting partner events offered by some of the city’s leading cultural institutions, for free! Check out all of the Untapped Cities tours and events happening this week in New York City:

Tuesday, November 13th

Special Access Tour of the Woolworth Building

The Woolworth Building was once the tallest skyscraper in New York City. Built as a “Cathedral of Commerce,” this off-limits landmark boast a cathedral-like interior of glass and marble with a stunning mosaic ceiling and intricate details throughout. After 9/11, security concerns rendered it closed to the public unless you lived or worked in the building. In addition to our VIP tour of the building with the building architect Cass Gilbert’s great grand daughter, we offer this one hour tour of the normally off-limits Woolworth Building which will feature not only a visit through the lobby but also the mezzanine, where you can get close to the mosaic ceilings, and the cellar level where the bank vault still stands.


  • Special Access inside the Woolworth Building, which is normally off-limits to the public
  • Learn about the history of the building, how it was created and has been restored over the years
  • Visit the spectacular “cathedral-esque” lobby and mezzanine of the building, nicknamed the “Cathedral of Commerce”
  • Explore the cellar level where you will see an abandoned bank vault and entrances that once had direct access to the NYC subway
  • Contemplate many Art Deco details including the gorgeous mailboxes and elevators

Insider Tour of the Woolworth Building

Ultimate NYC Trivia Night

The Museum of the City of New York is teaming up with the Gotham Center for New York City History for a night of trivia inspired by the city we know best. Put your knowledge of New York to the test in categories spanning the city’s epic 400-year history, iconic “only in New York” places and moments, and the notable individuals who have shaped our fair city – for better or for worse. Prizes (and bragging rights!) will be awarded to the top teams. There will be a cash bar and your ticket includes Museum admission, so you can arrive early to explore (and study up on!) the museum’s exhibitions. Players can compete in teams of up to six people, but no less than two. Each participant must have their own ticket and teams will be created at the door. If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can attend this event for free! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special New York City events all year long!

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Thursday, November 15th

The Poetry Brothel: The Big Easy

Photograph by John Suhar Courtesy of The Poetry Brothel

The Poetry Brothel takes poetry out of the classroom and into the lush interiors of a bordello under the cover of an immersive cabaret style show with burlesque, live jazz, tarot readings, magic and more. At each Poetry Brothel event, The Madame presents a rotating cast of poets, each operating within a carefully crafted character, who impart their work in public readings, spontaneous eruptions of poetry, and most distinctly, as purveyors of private poetry readings. For a small fee, all of the poets are available for these sequestered readings at any time during the event. If you are an Untapped Cities Insiders,you can get a general admission ticket to attend the next Poetry Brothel event, a New Orleans themed night at one of New York City’s best speakeasies, The Back Room, for free! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special New York City events all year long!

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Saturday, November 17th

Unframed Jr Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital


  • Discover all 26 site-specific collages by the world-renowned artist JR inside the abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island from the exhibition “Unframed – Ellis Island.”
  • All artworks are life-sized archival photographs of immigrants taken on Ellis Island that reactivate this long forgotten complex. There is even one you will see pasted by actor Robert de Niro.
  • Access 10 locations in the abandoned hospital complex that are completely closed off to the public and open exclusively to attendees of this tour, including the second floor of the general hospital and the visually stunning “Blue Room”
  • Get to know the stories behind each of the photos and learn the history of the abandoned hospitals on a tour led by an expert in JR’s art on Ellis Island
  • Receive a framable 24′ x 36′ poster of one of JR’s most notable pieces at Ellis Island

Scattered within the South Side hospital complex on Ellis Island, Unframed, is an installation by world-renowned Parisian street artist JR, who installed life-size historical photographs, taken on Ellis Island, on the walls of the hospital. This tour includes exclusive access to places not open on any other public tour, including numerous different locations not offered on our hard hat tour of the abandoned hospital complex. Join us in tracking downing JR’s beautifully haunting images while discovering the second floor of the complex and peeking inside what’s known as the “Blue Room,” among other places.

“Unframed Ellis Island” by JR, a guided tour of the exhibition inside Ellis Island’s Abandoned Hospital

Secrets of Grand Central Terminal


  • Learn about the secrets of one of NYC’s most iconic buildings
  • See Grand Central’s hidden tennis courts
  • Peek into the entrance of the glass walkways
  • Learn about the design flaw as large as Grand Central Terminal’s main atrium
  • Discover a multi-million dollars jewel hidden in plain sight and more!

The story of Grand Central Terminal is that of New York City itself: the structure embodies the social, cultural, economic and technological evolution around it. It is one of great men, feuding architects, ingenuity, rejuvenation, secrets and surprises.  On this tour, we will tell you these stories – about what once was, what could have been, and what can be; about the struggle to save and restore Grand Central as a preserved icon of the past, and of challenge to ensure that it serves New York’s future. We will show you what it was like in the booming age of the railroad, as a rundown embarrassment, and as a renovated jewel at the center of the city. Together, we will explore the interesting and unique spaces produced for and by it. Whether you pass through it every day on your morning commute or stroll through the Beaux Arts beauty for the first time, you are sure to leave having learned, seen, or experienced something new and extraordinary.

Tour of the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

Sunday, November 18th

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital Complex

Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital


  • Explore the over 100-year-old contagious disease hospital, which has been abandoned since 1954
  • See an exhibition by the world-renowned artist JR, who has placed life-sized historic photographs of Ellis Island immigrants on interior walls of the hospital buildings
  • Visit the Laundry Building, where 3000+ pieces of laundry were washed and sanitized daily
  • Discover the kitchen, autopsy room and other usually off-limits places
  • Get special access inside the original morgue and long abandoned FBI offices

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 a 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.

See our full list of our upcoming Public Tours and Untapped Cities Insiders Events.