From iconic locations like the Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central Station, to less travelled sites like the abandoned hospital at Ellis Island and the off-limits Woolworth Building, every week Untapped Cities provides special access to New York City destinations through our behind-the-scenes tours. You can also gain admission to events from some of the city’s leading cultural institutions through the Untapped Cities Insider program. Check out all of the exciting experiences offered this week:
Monday, December 10th
Lisa and Corduroy in Her Bedroom. Courtesy of Kerlan Collection, Children’s Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota from MCNY
Join a curator led walkthrough of the latest exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, A City for Corduroy: Don Freeman’s New York. The new exhibit presents the gamut of Freeman’s New York work, from his lively and humane depictions of ordinary New Yorkers and the city in the 1930s, to his illustrated scenes of the Broadway backstage, to his children’s books inspired by the city, including not just the Corduroy books but also Pet at the Met and Hattie the Backstage Bat. The exhibition features drawings, paintings, publications, and prints, as well as the artist’s original studies and sketches of Corduroy and other characters. If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can join this exclusive tour for free!
Tuesday, December 11th
- 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
The Woolworth Building is one of New York City’s most famous off-limits landmarks. Though its cathedral-like interior of glass and marble is landmarked, security concerns after 9/11 rendered it closed to the public unless you lived or worked in the skyscraper, once the tallest in the world. 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 stunning lobby but also the mezzanine and the cellar level where the bank vault still stands. On this insider tour of the Woolworth Building, you’ll get a complete picture of the engineering feat and aesthetic masterpiece that the skyscraper is.
From left to right: Fab 5 Freddy, Aya Kanai, Elizabeth Sweetheart, and Emily Spivack. Image Courtesy of MCNY
Hear from three distinctively fashionable New Yorkers – hip hop pioneer and artist Fab 5 Freddy; Executive Fashion Director of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Aya Kanai; and artist/fabric designer Elizabeth Sweetheart (a.k.a. the Green Lady of Brooklyn) – for a candid and wide-ranging conversation about the meanings of what we choose to wear. The discussion will be moderated by Emily Spivack, author of Worn in New York: 68 Sartorial Memoirs of the City and a book signing will follow. If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can join this event at the Museum of the City of New York for free!
Wednesday, December 12th
Join Untapped Cities and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for a behind the scenes tour of the raw and renovated spaces of the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Led by John Hong, the Assistant Vice President in Asset Management at the 4 million square foot complex, this tour will take guests through the stunning atrium (above, where freight trains once pulled in to directly unload supplies), new raw spaces in Building A, the food manufacturing hub in the annex, an enclosed bridgeway that has lain untouched for 40 years, and a rooftop. In addition, this visit will include stops at some of the manufacturing and art studios inside the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a former military supply base repurposed as a commercial and industrial complex. You can join this free special access tour if you are or become an Untapped Cities Insider!
Image Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society
Hear stories of World War II era New York City from historian and author of Victory City: A History of New York and New Yorkers During World War II John Strausbaugh at the Brooklyn Historical Society. At this book talk, Strausbaugh will bring to life the stories of ship fitters and soldiers, profiteers and pacifists, to show how this costly conflict played out on the streets of New York, and how its consequences paved the way for the city to become the global capital it is today. If you are or become an Untapped Cities Insider, you can attend this event for free!
Saturday, December 15th
- 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
Did you know that there is a hidden tennis court inside Grand Central Terminal? Or that in this extravagant station you can drink and dine in the former private office of a Jazz Age financier? Opened in 1913, Grand Central Terminal has become an iconic landmark well travelled by commuters and tourists alike, but it still holds many hidden secrets. On this unique walking tour, you will uncover the treasures hidden within this historic transportation hub: see the world’s largest Tiffany clock, peek into the off-limits glass walkways, discover the massive design flaw in the main atrium, locate a multi-million dollar jewel hidden in plain sight, and so much more. 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 on this behind-the-scenes walking tour.
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.
Sunday, December 16th
The New York City subway system is the largest in the world and with hundreds of art installations scattered throughout its 430 stations, it’s also one of the world’s largest public art galleries. Join Untapped Cities tour guide Justin Rivers as he takes you on an in-depth tour of the subway art tapestry, put together to illuminate the often unseen art, history, and secrets that make the subway system the most playful gallery in the world. Co-conceptualized by artist Aaron Asis, it’s a perfect compliment to our popular Underground Subway Tour or a fun stand alone for art, history and subway lovers alike.
- Learn the secrets behind the much-loved brass figures at 14th Street and 8th Avenue
- See how an artist framed the 14th Street Union Square station to preserve its history
- Engage with a very playful art installation at 23rd Street
- See the forgotten terra cotta tiles in Fulton Center and learn about their history
- 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
- 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