Every week Untapped Cities provides special access to some of New York City’s most iconic and most inaccessible locations through our behind-the-scenes tours, as well as access to events from some of the city’s leading cultural institutions. Check out all of the exciting experiences offered this week:
Thursday, December 6th
Image Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York
New York City is in the midst of an affordability crisis which poses an existential threat to the city’s characteristic vitality and diversity. Are existing plans to address the issue adequate, or is it time to consider more radical approaches? What are some big ideas for making New York housing more affordable? Hear five distinct proposals on how to deal with New York City’s housing crisis from thought-leaders and activists trying to reframe our current approach to housing at the Museum of the City of New York’s “Alternate Visions.” A discussion moderated by The Atlantic’s CityLab journalist Kriston Capps will follow the presentation. This event is the second in the museum’s new series, Housing Tomorrow’s City, which explores the challenges and opportunities presented in the Museum’s Future City Lab, the interactive third gallery in the New York at Its Core exhibition. 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.
Photograph by Carly Hoogendyk, Courtesy of Caveat
New York City’s Secrets and Lies returns to Caveat with a spectacular holiday lineup! This live storytelling show features five storytellers who will entertain you with tall tales about our city’s secret history. The catch? One of the bunch is a liar. Your mission is to figure out who’s lying, cast your vote, and then snag the big prize at the end of the evening if you’re selected from the (often very small) set of audience members who correctly pick out the liar. This special holiday edition will also have additional prizes and surprises! 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.
Friday, December 7th
Uncover the secrets of the Freemasons, the largest fraternal order in the world, while touring the many elaborate room of New York City’s Masonic Hall and Grand Lodge. This headquarters spans an entire city block in Manhattan’s Flatiron District and was built in 1910. The Masonic Hall is made up over a dozen meeting rooms, each with a unique style that ranges from French Gothic to Egyptian. You will even get to step inside the impressive 1,000 seat Grand Lodge Room which contains Tiffany-style stained glass on the ceiling, hand carved moldings and 54,000 sheets of Dutch metal gold leaf. You can join this private tour if you are an Untapped Cities Insider. 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.
Saturday, December 8th
- Discover the hidden-in-plain-sight remnants of the 1939/40 and 1964/65 World’s Fairs with playwright and Untapped Cities tour guide, Justin Rivers
- Visit the monument to a 5000-year time capsule
- View the original guidebooks from each of the World’s Fairs
- Get a comprehensive history of the past, present, and future of Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, with Insider information from our partners involved with the preservation of the New York State Pavilion
- Each guest will receive reproductions of World’s Fair Maps from both 1939 and 1964
The 1939/1940 and 1964/1956 World’s Fairs were historic moments in New York City’s history and both events left a mark. This tour will uncover numerous remnants of both fairs, with a focus on the hidden time capsules, the Fountain of the Planets, the Unisphere, and the historic New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The park has lived many lives from marshy tidal wetlands to an early 20th Century ash dump, to the site of not one, but two World’s Fairs. This tour explores the past, present, and future of this 900 acre park which was an obsession of the late “Master Builder,” Robert Moses. Join playwright, author, and Untapped Cities Tour guide, Justin Rivers as he leads you on a journey through Flushing Meadows’ many unnoticed treasures.
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. You also be able to view pieces of the site-specific art installation, Unframed, by world renowned French artist JR. The installation puts haunting life-size historical images from the island on the walls, doors, windows, floor and furniture of the complex, enhancing the eerie atmosphere.
- Walk the city’s original coast line
- See the remains of Manhattan’s first City Hall
- Discover the original Dutch fort, wind mill and battery
- Trace the streets of Manhattan in 1667 with Manhattan’s first map in hand
- Physically touch history as we spend time finding out why Bowling Green has its name and why it’s been so important in our city’s history
At first glance, it might seem like there’s not much left of Dutch New Amsterdam, but there’s much more than meets the eye. This includes the massive one hidden in plain sight: the original street grid embedded in lower Manhattan grid today. Discover the many hidden Dutch relics south of Wall Street, as you trace the streets of Manhattan in 1667. You’ll hear about New York’s founding myths and facts while standing in the very spots they all happened.
- Explore City Hall Park as the birthplace of the NYC subway system, including elements of the famed, decommissioned City Hall Station you can see right in the park
- Learn about the comically short route of the mythical “Subway before the Subway,” Alfred Ely Beach’s Pneumatic Transit System
- See the architectural ghosts of the now nearly forgotten, and partially abandoned, Chambers Street station then nicknamed the “Grand Central of Downtown”
- Use the 6 train as your own time machine as you ride through abandoned subway stations
- Discover the remnants of Union Station as you learn about a hidden art installation thousands of riders walk by everyday
Sunday, December 9th
- Discover the Brooklyn Bridge’s secrets, including its old Cold War fall out shelter, the hidden champagne vaults, the bridge jumper survivor’s support group and so many others… *NOTE: we will not be going inside the shelter or vaults.*
- See an abandoned park hidden in plain sight as you explore the perimeter of the Manhattan anchorages of the bridge
- Uncover the hidden statue of the family of engineers who built the bridge
- Locate the site of the nation’s first White House
- Cross the bridge span, which offers one of the best vantage points in New York City
Belvedere Castle. Image via Stig Nygaard
- Hear about the massive civic project that transformed a wasteland into an urban pleasure ground
- Learn about the curious origins of the Central Park Zoo and the corruption scandal that caused a riot
- Uncover the hidden meaning in Bethesda Terrace’s sculptures and the forbidden love that inspired the park’s most famous statue
- See the secret bolt left behind from the creation of Manhattan’s street grid
- Discover the secret navigational device that keeps pedestrians from getting lost on the park’s winding paths
Did you know that Central Park was once the site of a former African-American village? Or that it was previously home to an infamous casino, where alcohol flowed throughout the Prohibition? For almost 160 years, Central Park has been the green heart of the city, serving as a pastoral haven for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Even so, it still holds many secrets that have yet to be discovered. On this walking tour we’ll explore the history behind some of its best-loved and hidden sites. Learn about the genesis, design, and evolution of the immense green space, while uncovering its many outrageous happenings, scandals and more.
- 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