New Yorkers are hard to impress, but we are confident the urbanites on your holiday shopping list will love our picks for the 2019 Untapped New York Gift Guide. From books filled with the city’s secrets and tickets to behind-the-scenes, to home decor and accessories literally made out of pieces of the city, check out our suggestions!
1. Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide – 2nd Edition
Written by Untapped New York co-founders Michelle Young and Augustin Pasquet, Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide features over 125 of the borough’s hidden and bizarre places. This new edition features 20 new secret locations! This guide is written by and for New York City residents. Discover secret museums, go on an urban safari for wild parrots, enter the oldest building in New York City, watch a performance of robots in a church, step inside a grocery store frozen in 1939, and more. You can get an autographed copy directly from Untapped New York (shipped to you or picked up from our Brooklyn office) or a non-autographed copy on Amazon.
2. High Line Bookends
Photograph Courtesy of the High Line
You can put a piece of New York City on your bookshelf with these High Line Bookends. The heavy duty bookends are crafted from authentic steel rail salvaged from the iconic High Line rail way. The pieces were secured directly from and licensed by Friends of the High Line. Each rail is cleaned, cut and hand-polished to a smooth finish by Tokens & Icons. The bookends measure approximately 6″ high and each weighs 5.5lbs. Every pair is unique with variations of wear and markings. If having a piece of New York City in your home isn’t enough and you want to carry a piece with you, Tokens & Icons also crafts cufflinks out of Grand Central Terminal Marble, Flatiron building copper or Shea Stadium seats and jewelery too!
3. Untapped New York Gift Card
Looking for the perfect present for the urban explorer in your life? This holiday season, give the gift of discovery! We are very pleased to offer gift cards for our Untapped New York tours which can be used to purchase tickets for any of our public and private tours. You can buy gift cards in any denomination or by a specific tour of your choice. They can be applied to any of our exciting experiences including the Special Access Tour of the Woolworth Building, Underground Art in the NYC Subway Tour, Secrets of Grand Central Terminal, Underground Subway Tour, the Remnants of Penn Station, and more!
4. Piece of the Panorama of New York City
If you are looking to own property in New York City, this may be the cheapest way to do it. For as little as $100 you can “purchase” a piece of New York City real estate on the The Panorama of the City of New York inside the Queens Museum. As part of the Museum’s Adopt-a-Building program anyone can make a donation and receive a deed to their place of choice on the world’s largest architectural scale model. The purchase of a piece of the panorama can make a unique gift this holiday season to commemorate a special place in New York City.
Suggested donation levels range from $100 to $1,000 for the “purchase” of a small apartment to an entire commercial building or warehouse. For each purchase donors receive a title deed declaring the adoption of the property.
5. Untapped New York Insiders Membership
Give a passport to New York City’s secrets with an Untapped New York Insiders Membership! Untapped New York Insiders is a members-only club with free access to the city’s most off-limits places, events from the city’s leading cultural institutions, discounts to Untapped New York tours, and more. You can purchase a gift membership for a few months or the whole year. There are three different tiers of membership which each offer exciting perks. Previous Untapped New York Insider events include a climb to the top of the Little Red Lighthouse, access to the catwalk in the New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room, and a peek at artifacts in the collection of the New York Academy of Medicine’s Rare Book Room, to name a few. You can see all upcoming Insider events here!
6. A Taste of New York
If you’re shopping for an out-of-towner who loves the, literal, flavors of New York City, or will be away for the holidays, you can ship food from an iconic New York City restaurant. Whether you want to send a simple treat like a black and white cookie from Carnegie Deli, or an entire meal complete with lox from Russ and Daughters you can do it with Goldbelly. This unique delivery service finds the most iconic foods in the U.S. and ships them nationwide. You can share a pizza pie from Brooklyn with friends and family out of state!
7. The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
The Masterpiece, by Fiona Davis, is a page turner that tells a riveting story of two women in New York, separated by nearly half a century. Grand Central Terminal is the common factor that ties their stories together. Readers will be excited to see that the battle to landmark Grand Central figures heavily in the novel (as well as why it must be called terminal not station!), and so does the long lost Grand Central School of Art.
The story follows Clara Darden, an aspiring illustrator and teacher at the Grand Central School of Art in 1928, as she fights to make it in a man’s world as the Great Depression looms. In 1974, Virginia Clay is a recent divorcée in dire financial straits and has taken a job in the information booth at the crumbling Grand Central Terminal as Penn Central railroad is attempting to get the building demolished. Poking around the terminal, Virginia discovers the artwork of Clara Darden and begins on a quest that will transcend time. Order your copy here!
8. Fun Maps of NYC
Image Courtesy of Blue Crow Media
Shopping for a design or architecture enthusiast? These maps will become their favorite way to get around New York City. Blue Crow Media creates fun maps for cities around the world. Each map focuses on a specific design aspect of the city such as its Art Deco buildings, concrete and Brutalists architecture, or subway architecture and design. The maps feature stunning photography and interesting notes about each location included.
Secret New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants is written by Untapped New York founder Michelle Young and Laura Itzkowitz. In the book, you’ll find almost a hundred hidden places with entries that will surprise even in-the-know New Yorkers. You can craft your own bar crawl to some of New York City’s most secret places with this book as your guide.
10. Adopt a Bench or Tree in an NYC Park
You can adopt a bench or a tree in an NYC Park for the nature lover on your list. As part of your bench adoption, a plaque engraved with a personal message will be installed on the bench, and the bench will be maintained for the next ten years. Benches are available in all boroughs! Learn how to make your donation here. Certain parks, including Central Park and Bryant Park, are managed by local conservancies which oversee these bench adoption programs. You can learn more about Central Park’s adopt-a-bench program here and Bryant Park’s here.
In addition to dedicating a bench, you can also plant a new tree. The Forestry Division will help you select a location and tree species. You can also make a donation to have a Tree Guard with an engraved plaque installed around a street tree bed. Your donation supports tree guards, tree planting, and sidewalk repair.
11. Cat Men of Gotham
Cat Men of Gotham, Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York by Peggy Gavan is the culmination of many years she has spent collecting stories about the historic felines of New York City. Gavan, who runs the website Hatching Cat NYC and is a writer for Untapped Cities, has filled this exciting non-fiction book with short stories describing the encounters and relationships of cats and men, which reveal larger stories about New York City’s history. Gavan artistically balances both factual evidence and heart-warming details to create a book full of engrossing tales of feline-human relations.
The book is cleverly divided into nine sections, one for each of a cat’s nine lives: seafaring cats, police cats, fire cats, artist/editorial cats, hospitality cats, theatrical cats, civil servant cats, good-luck cats, and lucky cats. Stories in the book include many places Untapped New York has covered before. For example, the Brooklyn Navy Yard in which the story, “The Brave and Brawny Cats of the Brooklyn Navy Yard” is set in 1893 and shares the stories of multiple cats and kittens that were brought to the yard as mousers to protect the rigging from rats. Pick up your copy here.
12. Lost Buildings of NYC Posters
Image Courtesy of Raymond Biesinger
For a bit of nostalgia, you can bring back the lost buildings of New York City with these posters by artist Raymond Biesinger. Biesinger set himself the challenge of recreating near 700 bulldozed, demolished, burned down, and otherwise “lost” buildings of the 19th and 20th-centuries. His deadline for all of buildings in Canada and the USA’s 50 largest cities and boroughs is 2022. So far he has completed 356 drawings, including four boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Biesinger’s posters of New York City’s lost buildings include a wide variety of structures from train stations and factories to theaters and hotels, even fast food restaurants. Some lost buildings he has drawn include Penn Station, the Singer Building, Shea Stadium, the demolished PanAm Worldport and a Wendy’s that served as a film location for the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America in the 1980s.
13. Silent Cities New York: Hidden Histories of the Region’s Cemeteries
Image Courtesy of Globe Pequot Press
Silent Cities New York: Hidden Histories of the Region’s Cemeteries by Jessica Ferri explores the history of New York City through the residents of its cemeteries. From the movers and shakers of New York society, to corrupt political bosses and mafiosi, Jazz legends, and a Brooklyn native son who returned to Green-Wood as one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, the stories of the permanent residents of these cemeteries are just as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. To travel through the cemeteries of New York is to travel through the hidden history of what some consider to be the greatest city in the world.