Every week, Untapped Cities offers a slate of behind-the-scenes tours designed to help you rediscover New York City. From uncovering the secrets of an iconic setting, to discovering a little known, off-the-beaten-path site, each experience will show you something you never knew before. This week, see the restoration work being done inside of one of the city’s oldest churches, reveal the secrets of Grand Central Terminal, dig up New York City’s maritime history, and more!
Monday, June 10th
Courtesy of Snark Park, Photograph by Noah Kalina
Experience the premier installation of Snark Park at Hudson Yards before it closes this June for the next installation. Snark Park 3,000 square foot multi-faceted exhibition space featuring immersive installations designed by Snarkitecture, a New York studio whose work is centered on challenging visitors to investigate the familiar with a fresh curiosity. Untapped Cities Insiders will get free access to this immersive experience in the last few weeks of Lost and Found, the first of three themed installations that will be on display this year. Lost and Found will “encourage visitors to lose themselves in a labyrinth of massive, inhabitable columns, some of which are large enough to occupy and many of which offer unique audible, visual, and tactile experience.” Described as a “modern-day enchanted forest,” the exhibition hopes to challenge visitors to interact with the installation and reveal secret worlds through the material changes and twists of Lost and Found. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain free access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
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Tuesday, June 11th
Photograph by Jochen Enderlin
- 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
Live Oak, With Moss: Uncovering Walt Whitman’s Queer Private Life at the Brooklyn Historical Society
Explore the unpublished works of Walt Whitman at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Illustrator Brian Sleznick (who has illustrated such works as the 20th edition of the Harry Potter Series), Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener and author and executive director of Brooklyn Poets Jason Koo will examine Whitman’s series of poems Live Oak, With Moss. These poems were written privately as Whitman was turning forty and they portray his most ardent explorations of same-sex love. These poems were never published and remained largely unknown until now. Selznick recently released an edition of Live Oak, With Moss containing his own illustrations.
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Wednesday, June 12th
- 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!
Friday, June 14th
Go inside the historic “Little Red Lighthouse” in Fort Washington Park on a private tour for Untapped Cities Insiders led by an Urban Park Ranger. While you climb the long iron staircase to the top of the tower, a Park Ranger will provide information about the history of this unique landmark, which is rarely open to group tours. You will also learn about the natural and human history of the surrounding area including Fort Washington Park, The George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River as you walk down to the lighthouse from Washington Heights. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain free access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
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Saturday, June 15th
- Explore the early Dutch era maritime history through the stories of infamous sea captains Adrian Block and William Kidd
- Walk the less-charted trail along the historic east side slips including Old Slip and Coenties
- Learn about New York’s old buried ships on both the Hudson and East River shores and New York’s old floating churches
- Discover other related sites including the International Merchant Marine Building, The Cunard Building, the Alexander Hamilton Custom House and a stop at the stunning Merchant Marine Memorial by the historic Pier A building
- Visit South Street Seaport for the history of this unique museum, its historic ships and unparalleled views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline
Explore the abandoned structures at Fort Totten Park before the park is open to the public. Insiders will have access to the 1867 Water Battery Fort which was abandoned and never finished. Here, on a self-guided exploration, Insiders will be the very first to see a new art installation by New York City artist and Untapped Cities contributor Aaron Asis and a guided theatrical experience by Untapped Cities’ Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers. The installation, Fortified, includes a series of over-head corded installations that will weave through existing structural passages to encourage visitors to observe and appreciate the structural nuances of the Battery. There will also be a series of wall markings that highlight specific details, variations, and anomalies within the Battery structure. River’s Dark Passage will take place in the fort’s completely dark Main Magazine. After this self guided experience, where Asis and Rivers will be on-hand to chat about their work, Insiders will get to go on a ranger-led tour of the Endicott Battery, an off-limits ruin that is usually closed to the public.Already a member? Book here!
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
- 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
Join a special behind-the-scenes tour of Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which has just completed Phase One of a 10-year, comprehensive restoration – the first in the history of the almost-130-year-old church. Led by Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Insiders will learn the fascinating history of the congregation, which was founded by early Dutch settlers in the 17th century, and the church structure itself which was built 1891. The Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter has been pastor of “Old First,” since 2001. He grew up in Brooklyn, as his father was a Reformed pastor in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He took his Ph.D. from Drew University in 1989. He studied liturgy and church architecture at the Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen in the Netherlands. You can join this free tour if you are an Untapped Cities Insider! Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain free access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
Already a member? Book here!
- 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
Inside the Chambers Street station in Lower Manhattan
- 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, June 16th
- 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