Photo of Untapped Cities Team by The Confetti Project. From left to right, Justin Rivers, Augustin Pasquet, Charlotte Pasquet (age 20 months) who has attended many openings, including the reopening of the Cortland Street Subway station, Michelle Young, and Nicole Saraniero
Hello Untapped Cities Readers! I’m Michelle Young, the founder of Untapped Cities. It is with great excitement that we are marking the 10th anniversary of Untapped Cities and the publication’s first ever article, which published on June 8th, 2009! The article was about a mini golf course that was created by architects in an empty lot in Bushwick out of recycled and reused materials. Besides my own obsession with mini golf courses, architecture and ephemeral places, it was a moment in the heat of the Great Recession to reflect on the nature of New York City as it was. I wrote, “As such, with vacant space diminishing or transforming into a limbo state of incompleteness, and even seemingly ‘public’ spaces in fact privatized, there is no more opportune location to explore the relevance of empty space in New York City than in Bushwick.” Bushwick has since gone the way it did – that empty lot is unsurprisingly now a condo – but the question about public spaces continues to be at the forefront of urban discussion. And we are in the midst of yet another condo boom. But there are still so many things to celebrate about New York City.
We’ve come a long way here at Untapped Cities. When I founded it in 2009 (then called Untapped New York), it was not as a business, but just an expression of a simple idea: to uncover the hidden gems that surround us and to enable everyone to be able to rediscover their own city. The online media landscape at the time was burgeoning. Gothamist and Curbed NY were role models of mine, and are fortunately still around. Other websites have come and gone, or paused in a state of frozen limbo – much like the buildings mid-way in construction in 2009. The media landscape is a challenging one, and we’re honored to still be standing thanks to all of you. We’ve evolved from a site I coded myself into a company with a core staff, over 600 contributors and over two dozen tour guides. We’ve moved from just reporting on New York City’s most unique places to actively inviting our readers to off-limits experiences in the places we cover through our public tours and our membership program, Untapped Cities Insiders. We continue to be motivated by the same mission of discovery and celebration of New York City.
10 years and 10,000 articles later, we’ve amassed an interesting record of New York City. There are places we’ve photographed over and over again and can clearly see the changes. There are even more places we still have yet to discover, because that is the magic of New York City – you can never know it all or see it all (unless you’re Matt Green and you’re walking every street of the city). I hope we can keep going on this journey together with you for another 10, 20, 30+ years.
Untapped Cities Insiders inside the abandoned Park Slope Armory shooting gallery. Photo by Richard Previte.
If I had to pick some of my own personal favorite explorations and moments, I’d select catching a ride on a Marine Osprey helicopter to get flown to the USS New York for Fleet Week (2019), walking the final undeveloped section of the High Line (2011), getting to photograph the TWA Flight Center completely empty (2011), when the U.S. State Department visited us at the Untapped Cities office with a delegation to learn about the importance of local journalism, documenting the last days of the 5Pointz graffiti haven in Long Island City (2014), hanging out in the Echo Vault (a never-built subway station) for an epic party (2013), going to the sub-basement of Grand Central Terminal (2015), and climbing to the spires and rooftops of many of New York City’s most famous buildings (70 Pine, Flatiron Building, Paramount Building, and more). We can’t wait to see what’s going to come our way next.
In honor of our 10th anniversary, we’re also announcing a special anniversary sale: Get $10 tickets to our public tours* and one free month to our Untapped Cities Insiders membership with the code 10YEARS. The $10 ticket deal excludes the Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Hospitals on Ellis Island, where you can get $10 off with code 10YEARSELLIS. You can also get free shipping off the book we wrote, Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide with the code 10YEARS. Discount code will be valid until end of day Sunday, June 9th.
Thank you to our readers, our staff, tour guides, our hundreds of contributors over the years, our interns past and present, and our advisors who have been such an important part of our journey. We have many exciting things we are going to be launching over the next six months, including a return to our original name, Untapped New York! Stay tuned and keep exploring New York City!
— Michelle Young, founder Untapped Cities