Untapped Cities Insiders with drive Jordan Stratton inside the paddock at Yonkers Raceway
Every month Untapped Cities Insiders get to explore New York City’s most inaccessible places and attend exciting events hosted by the city’s leading cultural institutions, like our partners The Museum of the City of New York and the Brooklyn Historical Society. Recently our Insiders saw highlights from the archives of the New York Academy of Medicine’s Rare Book Room, toured the studios and galleries of the historic Art Students League, and gained insight into the process of designing New York City parks at the architectural studios of renowned landscape architecture firm SWA/Balsley. You can gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long by becoming a member today! Here are the activities Insiders can take part in this February:
February 6th – Explore the Archives of The Center for Jewish History
Go behind-the-scenes at the Center for Jewish History, home to one of the largest Jewish archives in the world. A rare treasure on West 16th Street, the Center houses over 100 million documents – and countless stories – about the migrations, adaptations, culture and life of the Jewish people. See how archivists and specialists process, preserve, and protect an astonishing array of artifacts; enjoy a rare foray into the stacks; and discover some intriguing documents and objects for yourself. Throughout the tour you will meet the historians, curators and archivists who care for the Society’s collections and have joined forces to create this storytelling adventure for Insiders! The tour will be followed by Q&A and reception.
- See where artifacts are examined and preserved in the lab
- Visit the archival stacks where items are stored after being examined
- Examine Albert Einstein’s childhood hot chocolate mug
- Read Emma Lazarus’s “New Colossus” from her handwritten notebook
- Hold Hank Greenberg’s baseball bat
February 7th – New York City’s Secrets and Lies Presented by Caveat
Photograph by Carly Hoogendyk, Courtesy of Caveat
Can you tell the difference between a secret and a lie when it involves New York City history? This month, storytellers at Caveat are spinning tales about “What Lies Beneath”: covert operations, secret lives, and the hidden goings on literally happening right now under the daily hustle and bustle of these streets. Four expert storytellers will dazzle you with secrets of our shining city’s past, but one of them is telling a fake story. The show will feature a special guest who is a true New York City Secret. This month, we’re so lucky to have Ben Mirin, a beatboxing ecologist who’s going to tell you all about his amazing wildlife music work.
February 7th – “The Swindler of Brooklyn Heights: The Family History of the Greatest Con Man of the Gilded Age,” a Book Talk at BHS
Image Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society
There is a bad apple on the family tree of Emmy Award-winning writer and historian Geoffrey C. Ward: his great-grandfather was Ferdinand Ward. Untapped Cities Insiders are invited to the Brooklyn Historical Society to hear the story of Ferdinand Ward’s meteoric rise to become “the Young Napoleon of Wall Street” and sudden, shocking fall as chronicled in Geofrrey C. Ward’s book A Disposition to be Rich. Ward will share his nefarious ancestor’s story from his small-town boyhood, through his brief heyday in Brooklyn’s most exclusive neighborhood, and finally to the crash that ruined U.S. Grant, took down Wall Street, and made him “the most hated man in America.”
February 11th – “Black-Owned Businesses: A History of Enterprise and Community in Brooklyn,” A Conversation at the Brooklyn Historical Society
Image Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society
Explore the rich history and social impact of businesses owned by and serving black communities in Brooklyn at to the Brooklyn Historical Society. Historian Jason Bartlett is joined by Cynthia Gordy Giwa and Glenn Alan of the online publication Black-Owned Brooklyn and Jyll Hubbard-Salk, founder of Crown Heights yoga studio Urban Asanas, to discuss the challenges and triumphs of the network of black business owners then and now, and how growing economic empowerment has tied directly to the struggle for equality. Moderated by Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and host of What’s Eating Harlem?, Selena Hill.
February 13th – Tour the Architectural Studios of FXCollaborative with 6sqft
Photograph Courtesy of FXCollaborative
The renowned architecture firm of FXCollaborative is opening its doors to Untapped Cities Insiders for drinks, conversation, and an exclusive look at recent and upcoming projects. On this special tour presented with our partners at 6sqft, join FXCollaborative Partner Nicholas Garrison, along with Gustavo Rodriguez, Principal, and Angie Lee, Principal—Design Director, Interiors, as they share some of their current projects, such as 1 Willoughby Square (Brooklyn), Public Square (New York City), and the new Statue of Liberty Museum, among others.
The firm’s work ranges from the scale of individual buildings and interiors—office towers, multi‐family residences, cultural facilities, workplace, K‐12 and higher‐education institutions—to the city as a whole, addressing infrastructure and transportation. FXCollaborative’s holistic approach integrates client aspirations, an urban sensibility, and a celebration of the craft of building.
February 23rd – Tour the Hidden Slave Galleries of the Historic St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in the Lower East Side
Join Untapped Cities Insiders to explore the architectural and cultural history of the landmark St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. St. Augustine’s is one of a few churches in the country to preserve and restore its “slave galleries,” hidden rooms from its original 1820’s design created as spaces for slaves and free black New Yorkers to observe the church services while remaining out of sight. Though the space is sparse, it is a haunting reminder that slavery in the North was supported and segregation was strictly enforced within the Christian Churches.
- Explore the architectural design of this Episcopal Church from the 1820’s and how it supported racism and segregation of slaves and other people of color
- View a short 10 minute film that explains the discovery of the “slave galleries”
- Tour the two “hidden rooms” where slaves were forced to wait and view while their owners participated in religious services
February 28th – Rooted in Place: Stories of Home in the City at MCNY
Image courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York
Experience an evening of stories about creating, maintaining, and losing our spaces in a non-stop city like New York at the Museum of the City of New York. Featuring architect Eric Bunge, Dr. Mindy Fullilove, author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and moderated by journalist Tanvi Misra of The Atlantic’s CityLab.
With all of the attention to housing as an aggregate measure, it can be easy to overlook the personal, felt experience of having a home in the dense metropolis, and the daily struggles of those for whom the concept of home is threatened or elusive. In a city driven by the imperatives of the real estate market, in which every inch of space is a commodity, it is increasingly important to explore the emotional and psychological dimensions of personal space, home-making, and connection to place, neighborhood, and community.