SPECIAL EDITION: “UNFORGOTTEN” NEW YORK

Encore: December 25, 2020

We explore some of New York City’s spectacular “Untapped” places and unravel the stories behind their underappreciated charm.

Click Here for more information On “Untapped Cities.”

Click Here for more information on Unforgotten Films.

 

**Updates On Locations**

Hart Island: There has recently been a push for new legislation to transfer Hart Island from the city’s Department of Corrections to the Department of Parks & Recreation.

More Information Visit: https://council.nyc.gov/data/hart-island/ 

Pavilion: Construction for New York State Pavilion Observation Towers Reconstruction is scheduled to begin in October 2019.

More Information Visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/7009

 

Aired on September 24 2019, December 19, 2019, February 10, 2020 and August 7, 2020.

TRANSCRIPT

UNFORGOTTEN.

COME WITH US TO SOME OF NEW YORK CITY'S MOST SPECTACULAR YET UNDERSTATED PLACES AND THE STORIES BEHIND THEIR UNDERAPPRECIATED CHARM.

AHEAD, FT. TO THEN, THIS STONE STRUCTURE WAS MEANT TO DEFEND THE HARBOR DURING THE CIVIL WAR, NOW IT'S BEING REIMAGINED AND REDISCOVERED.

THE NEW YORK CITY PAVILION, ALMOST FORGOTTEN SINCE THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR, IT STANDS AT THE CROSSROADS OF EYE ART, COMMUNITY ACTIVISM AND ANTIQUITY.

AND HART ISLAND, BEAUTIFUL AND MYSTERIES.

NEW YORK CITY'S PUBLIC BURIAL GROUND IS ALSO IN THE MIDST OF A PUSH FOR PUBLIC ACCESS.

COME FOR A TOUR OF THESE SPOTS AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪ ♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

> FEENG AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

FROM TIMES SQUARE TO LIBERTY ISLAND NEW YORK CITY IS KNOWN FOR HAVING SOME OF THE MOST ICONIC AND HISTORIC LOCATIONS.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SPOTS THAT ARE LESS ICONIC BUT NOT LESS FANTASTIC?

IN PARTNERSHIP WEB MAGAZINE UNTAPPED CITIES AND UNFORGOTTEN FILMS SHINE A LIGHT ON SOME OF THE NOT SO WELL KNOWN GEMS OF NEW YORK AS PART OF THEIR NEW VIDEO SERIES UNFORGOTTEN.

FIRST STOP ON THE TOUR IS FT. TO THEN LOCATED IN THE NORTHEASTERN PART OF QUEENS.

NEVER HEARD OF IT?

IF SO, TAKE A LOOK.

FT. TOTTEN WATER BATTERY BUILT IN 1862 TO PROTECT THE GREATER NEW YORK CITY REGION FROM INVASION AT THAT TIME.

OBSOLETE AND ABANDONED BEFORE COMPLETED THE WATER BATTERY IS A CIVIL WAR REMNANT AND RELATIVELY HIDDEN IN NORTHEAST SEQUENCE.

AS THE BATTERY CONTINUES TO REMAIN UNKNOWN TO MOST INVESTMENTS IN PRESERVING ITS HISTORY AN INCREASING VISITOR ACCESS HAS HELPED INSPIRE INTEREST IN THIS REMOTE QUEENS PARK.

FT. TOTTEN IS A PENINSULA IN NORTHEAST QUEENS AND WHEN THIS FORT WAS BEING CONSTRUCTED IT WAS VERY REMOTE AND CONTINUES TO BE REMOTE TO THIS DAY.

THERE IS NOWHERE IN NEW YORK YOU CAN GO TO REALLY GET AN EXPERIENCE IN THE CIVIL WAR AND FORT TOTTEN WHICH IS VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN TO EVERYBODY IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN.

YOU WALK AWAY, YOU KNOW, IMPRESSED BY THESE MASSIVE GRANITE BLOCKS THAT ARE THERE.

REL TEAR TECHNOLOGY SPED UP TO QUICKLY BY THE TIME THEY WERE DONE BEING IT WAS OBSOLETE.

THERE ARE MARKS FROM THE TEST FIRE.

ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE WALL TWO CRATERS AND THE ORIGINAL ARTILLERY IS STILL LODGED INSIDE OF THE WALL.

IT'S A REALLY SPECIAL SPOT.

YOU UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE IN NEW YORK CITY AND YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND WHY THE FORT IS HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE OF ITS LOCATION.

THIS IS VERY UNUSUAL IN THAT THIS IS FORMER FEDERAL PROPERTY.

WE HAD TO APPLY TO RECEIVE THE PROPERTY ROUGHLY 20 YEARS AGO AND WE STILL HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

IT IS THIS KIND OF JUXTAPOSITION BETWEEN A PARK AND THEN ALL OF THESE, YOU KNOW, GOVERNMENT ENTITIES THAT OCCUPY SPACE HERE.

ONE OF THE RANGERS' SECRETS I CAN TELL YOU IS THAT THERE IS NOT A SECRET TUNNEL THAT GOES FROM FT. TOTTEN PARK OVER TO FT.

SKYLAR.

WE HAVE LOOKED FOR T A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED FOR T THE BATTERY ITSELF WAS CONSTRUCTED IN THE 1860s, THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY YET AT THE TIME SO UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS NOT A SECRET TUNNEL GOING UNDER THE LONG ISLAND SOUND BUT THERE ARE LOTS OF OTHER TUNNELS THAT YOU CAN EXPLORE.

IN ORDER TO GET TO THE BATTERY YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN A LONG TRANSPORT TUNNEL AND WHEN YOU FIRST COME OUT YOU SEE THE FORT ALL AT ONCE.

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL SHINING STRUCTURE AND JUST BEING INSIDE OF IT YOU REALLY FEEL THAT YOU'VE WALKED INTO A PIECE OF HISTORY.

FIRST YOU HAVE THE BATTERY WHICH WAS BUILT IN THE 1860s.

BY THE TIME IT WAS COMPLETED AND WAS NEVER ACTUALLY FULLY COMPLETED IT WAS OBSOLETE.

SO THEY WENT A LITTLE MORE UP THE HILL AND THEY BUILT THE END COT BATTERY A SERIES OF MORE TERSE AND CANNONS AND MACHINE GUNS AND THEY WOULD UPGRADE IT OVER TIME.

IT'S MADE OUT OF POURED CONCRETE AND STEEL WHICH DOESN'T STAND THE TEST OF TIME, THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BEAT IT DOWN WHICH IT HAS BEEN AN CONTINUES TO DO.

IT ALMOST HAS AN ARTIST I CAN FEEL TO IT.

WHEN YOU GO BACK IN TIME IT'S CREEP KREE AND INTERESTING AND FASCINATING ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

IN THE CITY WE HAVE ALL OF THESE SPACES, ESPECIALLY IN NEW YORK, THAT ARE SO OVERDONE, OVERPROGRAMMED, FLASHY, SHINY.

WHERE YOU GO INTO A PRESERVED SITE AND YOU MOVE THROUGH IT AND THE STORIES ARE LEFT THE WAY THEY WERE WHEN THEY WERE LEFT THERE, NOBODY HAS TAMPERED WITH THEM.

THEY'RE STEPPING LITERALLY IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SOMEBODY WHO WAS THERE 20 YEARS AGO, 40 YEARS AGO, 80 YEARS AGO, WHICH IS WHY, AGAIN, I THINK ABANDONED SPACES IN NEW YORK ALTHOUGH THEY ARE SO RARE NOW ARE EXTREMELY SPECIAL.

THE ABILITY TO FIND SOLITUDE IN A PUBLIC SETTING IS A CHALLENGE.

WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC FEELING OF NOT WANTING THIS TO BE OVERPROGRAMMED, TO BE ABLE TO PRESERVE THAT, AND THERE IS VALUE IN THAT.

CREATIVE PROGRAMMING BUT IT HAS TO MESH WITH THE FEEL OF A PLACE OF A PARK.

I REALLY DO THINK THERE'S VALUE IN RESERVING THESE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO FIND SOLITUDE IN A PUBLIC SPACE.

SO AS WE ALL WORK TO PRESERVE THESE HISTORIES AND PROVIDE ACCESS TO THESE STRUCTURES WE FACE A UNIQUE CHALLENGE IN TRYING TO BALANCE OL TUD AND ACTIVATION IN OUR CITY'S PARKS.

AS THE DEBATE OVER HOW TO BEST UTILIZE PUBLIC SPACES CONTINUES WE SHOULD ALL STOP TO APPRECIATE THESE HIDDEN GEMS AND RECOGNIZE THE WAYS THAT THEIR STORIES HELP INSPIRE OUR FUTURES AND OUR PARKS.

AN JOINING ME NOW ARE TWO OF THE JOURNALISTS BEHIND UNFORGOTTEN, MICHELLE YOUNG FOUNDER OF THE UNTAPPED CITIES AND AARON ASIS ARTIST AND CREATOR OF UNFORGOTTEN FILMS.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

AARON, I WANT TO START WITH YOU, OF ALL THE LOCATIONS YOU CHOSE HOW DID YOU ZERO IN ON FT.

TOTTEN.

IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION, NOT NECESSARILY SOMETHING THAT'S SUPER FORMULAIC.

I THINK THERE ARE GEMS ALL OVER THE CITY THAT ARE HIDDEN OR MAYBE LESSER APPRECIATED.

WITH SITES LIKE THIS AND A PROJECT LIKE THIS YOU'RE REALLY KIND OF JUST LOOKING FOR THREADS, FOR INTERESTED AGENCIES WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT, INTERESTED GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TELL THE STORY AND JUST, AGAIN, TRYING TO IDENTIFY THE SITE THAT HAS THE MOST MIGHT AND THAT REALLY KIND OF FITS INTO THE BROADER CONTEXT OF THE PROJECT WHICH IS TRYING TO SHARE THESE UNDERAPPRECIATED OR LESSER KNOWN GEMS AROUND THE CITY IN A COLLECTIVE WAY.

OKAY.

AND, MICHELLE, I MEAN, THERE'S GOT TO BE SO MANY OTHER -- WE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THAT CLIP BUT THERE'S GOT TO BE UNIQUE GEMS THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STUDYING AND LEARNING ALL ABOUT FT. TOTTEN.

ONE OF THE FUN THINGS IS ITS APPEARANCE IN POPULAR CULTURE RECENTLY.

SO BEFORE THE LAST SEASON OF 'GAME OF THRONES' AIRED HBO HID SIX IRON THRONES AROUND THE WORLD AND ONE WAS RIGHT HERE IN FT. TOTTEN IT REALLY PUT THIS PLACE ON THE MAP.

EVEN GOING BACK IN TIME FT.

TOTTEN ACTUALLY HAS SOME OF THE EARLIEST GRAFFITI IN NEW YORK CITY, SCROLLED INTO THE TUNNELS INSIDE THERE, AND THERE IS A REFERENCE TO REMEMBER THE MAINE WHICH IS A BIG SHIP WRECK THAT HAPPENED THAT STARTED THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR.

SO THERE IS LOTS OF REALLY INTERESTING THINGS FROM PRESENT DAY TO GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THIS FORT.

YOU KNOW, HAD YOU NOT DONE A FILM PIECE ABOUT A LOCATION LIKE THIS, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT EITHER ONE OF YOU EVER WOULD HAVE DISCOVERED OR EVEN KNOWN ABOUT?

I'M GOING TO ADMIT THAT I GREW UP IN QUEENS, I GROUP UP IN FLUSHING, I HAD NEVER BEEN TO THE NORTH BEFORE THIS PROJECT OR BEFORE THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE.

DID YOU FIND OUT WHEN YOU WERE MAKING THIS PROJECT THAT THERE WERE ALL OF THESE LOCATIONS THAT YOU WERE JUST -- THEY WERE RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE BUT YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THEY WERE THERE.

YEAH, I MEAN, I THINK EVERYONE HAS A BUCKET LIST OF THINGS THEY WANT TO DO FOR PEOPLE LIKE US IT'S ABANDONED PLACES.

SO IT WAS A PLACE THAT HAD BEEN ON MY LIST AS A PLACE THAT I KNEW HAD AN AMAZING HISTORY WAND WAS IN A REALLY RAW STATE OF ABANDONMENT, BUT A PROJECT LIKE THIS REALLY ACTUALLY GETS YOU INTO THE PLACES AND PUTS YOU IN TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY TAKING CARE OF THE SPACE FOR NEW YORKERS.

CONTINUING OUR TOUR OUR NEXT STOP IS THE NEW YORK CITY PAVILION, ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT RELICS OF THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR.

THE PAVILION IS CURRENTLY IN THE MIDST OF A $24 MILLION RESTORATION PLAN.

AS PART OF THE UNFORGOTTEN VIDEO SERIES WE TAKE A GLIMPSE AT THE STRUCTURE.

THE NEW YORK STATE PAVILION WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT AS A SPECTACULAR PUBLIC STRUCTURE AT THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR IN FLUSHING MEADOWS, CORONA PARK, DESIGNED BY PHILLIP JOHNSON AS AN ICON FOR THE TWO RECALLED TO SEE THE PAVILION SERVED AS A GATHERING SPACE, CONCERT VENUE AND EVEN A ROLLER SKATING RINK BEFORE IT SLIPPED INTO THE REALM OF THE FORGOTTEN.

AS THE PAVILION HAS STARTED TO EMERGE OVER THE PAST DECADE CREATIVE COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS AND RENEWED PUBLIC INTEREST HAVE HELPED RESTORE THE INTEGRITYTH .

THE ATTRACTION HERE WAS THE BUILDING.

IT WASN'T A RIDE, IT WASN'T THIS OR THAT.

THE BUILDING GRABBED YOUR ATTENTION IN SOME WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.

I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IF NOT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE PASSED THROUGH THIS LOCATION.

THE PAVILION FIRST RAN INTO TROUBLE DURING THE FISCAL CRISES OF NEW YORK CITY BACK IN THE '70s.

SO IT'S VERY REFLECTIVE OF THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY.

IS SURVIVED, IT DIDN'T RECOVER YET, BUT IT HAS SURVIVED.

I FEEL IT SORT OF CROSSED OVER INTO THE REALM OF ICONIC AS A SYMBOL OF QUEENS BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS WHEN THEY SEE THE TOWERS THAT MEANS QUEENS, YOU KNOW.

WE FEEL THAT ONCE WE PAINTED IT IT WAS EASY TO ENVISION IT REPUR REPURPOSED.

EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A COAT OF PAINT CAN REALLY CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT SOMETHING COULD BE.

THE TENT OF TOMORROW HAD THIS HUGE TERRAZZO MAP ON THE FLOOR OF NEW YORK STATE STATE, THERE WERE SQUARES AND WITHIN THOSE SQUARES THERE WERE PIECES OF MATERIAL THAT LAID OUT NEW YORK STATE WITH DIFFERENT TOWNS.

THAT ALL GOT WORN OUT AND A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO THE PARKS DEPARTMENT WORKED WITH UPEN TO ESSENTIALLY PRESERVE THAT WAS LEFT OF THAT.

I HOUNDED PHILLIP JOHNSON'S SECRETARY FOR THREE YEARS BEFORE HE DIED TO GET TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT.

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO HAVE YOUR OWN RUIN.

HE USED THE WORD NEAT.

IT'S NEAT BUT IT'S NOT MUCH OF A RUIN BECAUSE THERE'S NO IVY GROWING UP THE COLUMNS.

I THEN WENT OUT AND PLANTED IVY ON THE COLUMNS WHICH GREW UP TO ABOUT 50 FEET ON THREE OR FOUR OF THE COLUMNS.

ON APRIL 12, 2014, TO SLEP PLATE THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR WE HAD OUR OWN EVENT RIGHT HERE AT THE TENT OF TOMORROW.

WE INVITED THE PUBLIC TO COME IN AND GET A TOUR OF THE TENT.

WE HAD THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SHOWED UP.

I'VE BEEN IN THE PARKS FORM 35 YEARS, HE THINK IT WAS MY FAVORITE DAY EVER IN THE PARKS DEPARTMENT AND IT SHOWED IT WE MIGHT BE THIS LARGE REGIONAL PARK BUT WE ARE STILL THIS COMMUNITY AND THAT THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE AND WE WANT TO PRESERVE THAT FEELING FOR THEM.

WE PARTNERED WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND WORKED WITH THEM TO BUILD OUT THIS IDEAS COMPETITION.

I THINK JUST INVITING PEOPLE TO IMAGINE A FUTURE FOR IT HELPED TO KIND OF SHAPE PEOPLE A BIT.

IT'S PRETTY SPECTACULAR BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE THE SAME FEEL BECAUSE IT'S NOT ABANDONED REALLY.

THEY'VE PAINTED IT.

SO THE PAVILION BEFORE COULD EVOKE THESE FEELINGS OF WHAT WAS OUR PAST AND WHAT COULD BE OUR FUTURE, YOU COULD SEE FOOTPRINTS, YOU COULD SEE WHERE THE DOORS OPENED AND WOULD SCRATCH THE FLOOR, YOU COULD SEE ALL THESE THINGS AND FEEL THAT PATH.

PERSONALLY I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU EVEN NECESSARILY NEED TO DO ALL THAT MUCH TO MAKE IT AN OPEN SPACE AGAIN, JUST KEEPING IT AS IT IS, MAKING SOME STRUCTURAL UPGRADES AND LETTING PEOPLE GET INSIDE OF IT WOULD BE THRILLING.

IT'S JUST SO ICONIC AND SO IMPORTANT THAT I THINK WE WILL THINK HOW COULD THIS EVER HAVE BEEN CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

AS THESE CREATIVE EFFORTS CONTINUE TO HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAVILION, GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE BEEN STEPPING UP TO ALLOCATE FUNDS TO GO INN THE RESTORATION PROCESS AND EVEN AS THE FUTURE OF ITS STRUCTURE IS STILL BEING DETERMINED, WE SHOULD CELEBRATE THESE ONGOING COMMITMENTS TO ACTIVATING THE PAVILION AND TO THE FUTURE OF FLUSHING MEADOWS, CORONA PARK.

SO, AARON, YOU WERE SAYING EARLIER YOU GREW UP IN GREENS.

I'M WONDERING AS A FILMMAKER WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THIS PAVILION IF YOU EVEN HAD ONE, BEFORE AND THROUGHOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD AND NOW HAVING GONE BACK AND LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT THIS RESTORATION?

NOT ONLY DID I GROW UP IN QUEENS, I GREW UP IN FLUSHING AND IN FLUSHING MEADOW PARK.

IT'S REMARKABLE HOW MY PERCEPTION OF THAT STRUCTURE WAS THINKING IT WAS A DERELICT NATURAL GAS TANK OR SOMETHING COMPLETELY OFF BASE.

YOU DIG A LITTLE DEEPER AND THROUGH THE GREAT HONOR OF GETTING TO MEET SOME PEOPLE WHO WERE DOING WORK, THE FILM SHOWED PEOPLE WHO CARED ABOUT IT WHEN NO ONE ELSE DID, THE PAINT CREW WHO BROUGHT MORE ATTENTION TO IT THAN ANYBODY ELSE HAD, PEOPLE FOR PAVILION WHO GAVE IT TO THE PUBLIC AND OPENED UP THE CONVERSATION, THE WILLINGNESS OF THE CITY AGENCIES TO COME TOGETHER.

THROUGH THOSE TYPES OF CONVERSATIONS IT'S BEEN SUCH A GREAT TREAT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IT AND SORT OF LEARN ALL OF THE INFORMATION COUNTER TO WHAT MY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE WAS AND THEN YOU CAN ALSO DOUBLE BACK AND START TO LOOK AT THE WORLD'S FAIR HISTORY AND STUFF.

I MEAN, IT'S REALLY -- IT'S A GREAT TESTAMENT TO GROWING UP IN A PLACE AND NOT BEING AWARE, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT THESE FILMS ARE TRYING TO UNEARTH, PAY A LITTLE BIT MORE ATTENTION, LOOK A LITTLE BIT MORE DEEPLY.

ALSO THE INFORMATION THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED AND CARE ABOUT THESE PROJECTS WHAT THEY CAN SHARE AND WHAT KINDS OF WORLDS THEY CAN OPEN FOR YOU.

THE ABSOLUTE AMOUNT OF DETAIL THAT SEEMS TO BE GOING INTO THIS POTENTIAL RESTORATION WAS AMAZING TO WATCH.

SO I'M ALSO WONDERING, I MEAN, SINCE, YOU KNOW, THIS IS ABOUT UNFORGOTTEN PLACES IN NEW YORK CITY, EVEN THOUGH AS AARON WAS SAYING THAT, YOU KNOW, HE THOUGHT IT WAS AN OIL TANK AT ONE POINT, HOW DID THIS GET INCLUDED BECAUSE, AGAIN, IT'S ICONIC.

WE ALL KNOW THE SILHOUETTE AT LEAST.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S SO RECOGNIZABLE BUT YET IT WAS ONLY USED FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT REALLY HAS RESONATED WITH PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN FELT LIKE THEY HAD AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE BUT COULD NOT NEVER GO BACK.

FOR YOUNGER GENERATION WHO HAS MAYBE SEEN 'MEN IN BLACK' OR DROVE BY IT ON GRAND CENTRAL PARKWAY THEY WERE LIKE WHAT IS THAT AND I REALLY WANT TO GO INSIDE.

SOME OF THESE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACCESS HAVE BEEN REALLY OVERWHELMING.

YOU SAW THE CROWDS IN THE VIDEO WITH UNTAPPED CITIES WE HOSTED TWO TOURS FOR OUR READERS THERE AND WE HAD TO RAFFLE OFF THE SPACE BECAUSE THE LIST WAS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LONG WHO WANTED TO GET INSIDE.

SO ALL THESE EFFORTS ARE REALLY EXCITING BECAUSE I THINK THERE'S SORT OF AN UNDERSTANDING THAT IT'S ONE OF THE FEW PLACES WHERE I THINK ALL THE AGENCIES ARE COMING TOGETHER AND SAYING, YES, AND I THINK IT'S A TESTAMENT TO THE WORLD'S FAIR HISTORY AND THE COMMUNITY IN QUEENS.

AND OF COURSE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING WHAT THE FINAL RESTORATION AND REUSE OF THAT SPACE LOOKS LIKE.

> AND FINALLY HART ISLAND NEW YORK CITY'S MASS BURIAL GROUND LOCATED IN THE NORTHEASTERN PART OF THE BRONX IT CONTAINS ABOUT A MILLION SOULS OF THOSE WHO DIED WITHOUT KNOWN FAMILY MEMBERS, MEANS OR BURIAL PLANS.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

> HART ISLAND WAS PURCHASED BY THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN 1868 TO SERVE AS THE CITY ACE PUBLIC BURIAL GROUND OFF THE COAST OF CITY ISLAND IN THE BRONX.

OPERATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS FOR OVER 150 YEARS, HART ISLAND IS A HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE, RICH WITH HISTORIC REMNANTS AND A IENL RESTING PLACE FOR NEARLY A MILLION NEW YORKERS.

BUT AS VISITATION TO THE EYE LEFT HAND REMAINS A CHALLENGE, ARTISTS AND ADVOCATES HAVE BEEN WORKING TO HONOR MEMORIES AN INCREASE ACCESS TO NEW YORK CITY'S ONLY PUBLIC BURIAL GRO GROUND.

THE LANDSCAPE IS RELATIVELY OPEN.

IT'S A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY OUT THERE.

IT'S AN AREA THAT REALLY IS A BEAUTIFUL PART OF NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S VERY QUIET, IT'S VERY PEACEFUL.

JUST A LOT OF NATURE AND SORT OF OLD BUILDINGS.

IT'S A VERY HUMAN PLACE.

VERY HUMBLING PLACE.

AND GETTING THERE IS LIKE GOING TO A PRISON.

IT'S COMPLETELY CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT OF THE PLACE.

ACCESS IS IMPORTANT FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS OR PEOPLE WITH INTEREST OF GOING.

BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT'S RUN AND THE STRUCTURE THAT'S BEEN SET UP FOR IT.

HART ISLAND IS AN EYE LEFT HAND OFF THE COAST OF CITY ISLAND IN THE LONG ISLAND SOUND AND THE BRONX.

IT SERVES AS THE CITY'S PUBLIC BURIAL GROUND.

ANYONE WHO IS BURIED BY NEW YORK CITY IS BURIED ON HART ISLAND, THAT CAN INCLUDE ANYONE WHOSE NECK OF KIN CANNOT BE FOUND, LOCATED, ANYTHING WHO OPT NOT TO HAVE A PRIVATE BURIAL OR ANYONE WHO IS NOT IDENTIFIED.

THERE IS A CAPTAIN AND SOME OFFICERS AND SOME HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS AS WELL AS A CADRE OF SENTENCED INMATES FOR THE MOST PART SERVING A YEAR OR LESS.

THE INMATES DEFINITELY APPRECIATE THE TIME OUTSIDE AS WELL AS JUST GETTING OUT OF JAIL FOR A LITTLE WHILE.

THERE'S STILL A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHO THE FOLKS ON HART ISLAND MIGHT BE, IF SOMEBODY'S LOVED ONE MIGHT HAVE ENDED UP THERE OR NOT.

RIGHT NOW YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH A PRETTY INTENSE PROCESS OF SHOWING THAT YOU HAVE SOMEONE BURIED ON THE ISLAND BEFORE YOU ARE ALLOWED TO VISIT AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHOSE INTEREST THAT SERVES.

MAYBE IT'S TIME THAT THE FOLKS WHO CAN MAKE THE DECISIONS GO AND SEE FOR THEMSELVES WHY PEOPLE THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO OPEN TO THE PUBLIC MORE.

A LOT OF PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO HAVE GROWN UP IN NEW YORK CITY, NEVER KNEW ABOUT HART ISLAND SO IN THAT SENSE IT'S BEEN GREAT FOR OPENING UP CONVERSATION ABOUT SORT OF LAND USE, ABOUT HISTORY, ABOUT MEMORY, ABOUT GRIEVING.

ARTISTS THEY HAVE A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.

THE PROJECT OFFERS A VIEWPOINT FOR AN AUDIENCE TO FEEL THAT DISTANCE.

TO FEEL THAT LACK OF ACCESS.

SO I STARTED THE HART ISLAND PROJECT IN 1991 AT THE PEAK OF THE AIDS EPIDEMIC AND I WENT BACK THERE WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER TO SHOW A PART OF THE CITY THAT WAS REALLY UNCHANGED.

THAT WAS REALLY THIS REALLY BEAUTIFUL PLACE.

A PLACE THAT REFLECTS THE STORIES OF THAT COMMUNITY.

THE QUESTION IS DOES THE PUBLIC HAVE THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THEIR CEMETERY?

I REALIZE IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE, BUT IN THE END THAT'S KIND OF WHAT WE NEED.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S TWO SIDES TO THIS THING, SO SOMETIMES WE JUST NEED A GOOD SONG TO GET US TO THE OTHER SIDE.

WE HAVE EXPERIENCE TAKING IN ABANDONED ISLAND AND MAKING IT INTO A PARK WHERE PEOPLE GO.

IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR US AS A CITY TO PROVIDE KIND OF ACCESS TO ANOTHER ABANDONED ISLAND.

I'M NOT SURE WHAT HART ISLAND WILL BE AFTER IT STOPS BEING THE ACTIVE POTTER'S FIELD.

I'M NOT SURE THAT ANYONE AT THIS POINT REALLY KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT THAT WILL LOOK LIKE.

THIS IS A QUINTESSENTIALLY NEW YORK PLACE.

IT'S REALLY SOMETHING WE SHOULD BE PROUD OF AND I THINK THE PUBLIC WOULD REALLY LIKE TO BE ABLE TO GO THERE.

SO AS WE REFLECT ON THE HISTORY, CONDITIONS AND LIVES THAT ARE ALL PART OF HART ISLAND, ARTISTS AND ADVOCATES CONTINUE PUSHING FOR NEW LEGISLATION AND IMPROVED PUBLIC ACCESS.

AND AS CITY OFFICIALS START THE PROCESS OF TRANSFERRING VOLUNTARILY CONTROL, WITH HE SHOULD ALL TAKE A MOMENT TO CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF THIS TRANSITION BOTH ON HART ISLAND AND ON PEOPLE'S LIVES THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

SO, AARON, I WANTED TO START WITH YOU BECAUSE THAT WAS I WOULD SAY THE MORE DIFFICULT OF THE THREE PIECES THAT WE'VE SEEN.

I'M WONDERING WHAT IS IT THAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT ALLOWING THE PUBLIC TO ACTUALLY GO TO SOMEPLACE LIKE HART ISLAND TO BE ABLE TO GRIEVE FOR THESE UNKNOWN SOULS?

IT'S ALMOST AN IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION TO ANSWER.

I THINK DEALING WITH DEATH IS SOMETHING THAT'S SO CULTURALLY SPECIFIC AND SO CHALLENGING, BUT I THINK HART ISLAND SPECIFICALLY IS FASCINATING BECAUSE IT WASN'T -- IT'S NOT THE FIRST PUBLIC CEMETERY IT WON'T BE THE LAST PUBLIC CEMETERY.

NEW YORK CITY HAS A LONG HISTORY OF TURNING PUBLIC CEMETERIES INTO PARK PLACES, CITY HALL, WASHINGTON PARK, MADISON SQUARE PARK.

I THINK IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE HART ISLAND IS MUCH MORE REMOVED FROM THE CENTER OF THE CITY AS THOSE OTHER SPACES BUT I THINK WHEN YOU WANT TO SORT OF HONOR KIND OF LIKE THAT HISTORY AND THE DNA THAT IS PART OF THE CITY AND PAY HOMAGE TO THE PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES AND WHOSE SOULS ARE ON THE ISLAND I THINK THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS REALLY PROVIDE MORE ACCESS FOR THEM, FOR THE FAMILIES, PEOPLE WHO ARE GENERALLY INTERESTED AND ALLOW IT TO BE SOMETHING THAT'S A LITTLE BIT MORE KIND OF HUMAN I GUESS FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD.

THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING ON THE ISLAND IS REALLY SECOND TO NONE AND I THINK THE CONVERSATION AROUND DEATH IS JUST SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, IS -- IS A CHALLENGING ONE TO HAVE, BUT CERTAINLY NOT ONE PEOPLE SHOULD BE RESTRICTED FROM.

ABSOLUTELY.

MIHELLE, I'M WONDERING IF PERHAPS HART ISLAND AND, AGAIN, BECAUSE IT IS A CEMETERY FOR THE UNKNOWN, IF THAT SOMEHOW STANDS OUT FROM THE REST OF THE LOCATIONS THAT ARE INCLUDED ON YOUR SITE.

OH, DEFINITELY.

IT IS A PLACE THAT IS HALLOWED GROUND AND ALSO VERY EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL AND SILENT.

THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES IN NEW YORK CITY THAT ARE QUIET AND I THINK THE REMOTENESS OF IT, THE FACT THAT MAYBE SOME PEOPLE ON CITY ISLAND DON'T EVEN KNOW THAT IT'S THERE POTENTIALLY, IT'S ON LONG ISLAND SOUND AND THE DIFFICULTY OF GETTING ACCESS IS A VERY UNIQUELY NEW YORK SITUATION.

IT'S BEEN UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION' JURISDICTION FOR MAYBE 150 YEARS AND CORRECTIONS INMATES ACTUALLY BURY THE DEAD.

SO BECAUSE OF THAT SECURITY APPARATUS AROUND THAT IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO GET ACCESS AND MELINDA HUNT WAS THE FIRST PERSON WHO REALLY ADVOCATE SUCCESSFULLY.

SO ONE DAY A MONTH THE PUBLIC CAN SIGN UP TO VISIT IT, BUT IT'S STILL A PRETTY ONEROUS PROCESS.

ONE TIME WHEN I WENT ACTUALLY NO ONE WAS STAFFED TO BRING US OVER AND THEN SOMEONE LATER CAME.

WE HAVE ONLY BEEN ABLE TO GO AS PRESS, BUT THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE.

OF COURSE.

I DIDN'T WANT TO PIVOT TOO MUCH, BUT THESE ARE JUST THREE EXAMPLES OF THE LOCATIONS AROUND THE CITY.

I'M JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL US ABOUT MAYBE A FEW OF THE OTHER ONES TO GIVE PEOPLE A BROADER IDEA WHO AREN'T YOUR AVERAGE READERS.

YEAH, MAYBE AARON CAN TAKE AND TALK ABOUT THE NEXT FILMS THAT ARE COMING.

YEAH, I MEAN, SO THERE'S, YOU KNOW, THE PROCESS UNDER WHICH WE GO THROUGH TO BASICALLY IDENTIFY AND MOVE THROUGH CREATING THESE FILMS AS MENTIONED EARLIER IS A LITTLE BIT KIND OF TOUCH AND GO.

WE'VE BEEN WORKING WITH THE PARKS DEPARTMENT PRETTY STEADILY AND HAVE SOME CONTENT INFORMATION STARTED WORKING WITH WASHINGTON SQUARE AND TALKING ABOUT THE ARCH ITSELF AND SOME OF THE HISTORY THERE.

WE'VE BEEN TALKING WITH THEM ABOUT POTENTIALLY NORTH BROTHER ISLAND, TALKING WITH THE OPERATING REOG ISLAND A STATE RUN ISLAND ON ROOSEVELT ISLAND.

NO HE IS PROCESSES ARE ALL UNDER WAY, BUT, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, THESE PROJECTS ARE UNIQUE IN A SENSE THAT THE VOICE THAT'S USED TO CREATE THE NARRATIVE NEEDS TO BE A COMBINED VOICE AND WE BASICALLY NEED SORT OF THAT MULTIPLE BUY-IN FROM THE DIFFERENT AGENCIES, COMMUNITY GROUPS, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO MAKE SURE THEY ALL COME TOGETHER.

SO AT THIS POINT THERE ARE DEFINITELY SOME THREADS OUT THERE AND DEFINITELY SOME PROJECTS STARTED BUT TO ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, THROW A DART AT THE WALL AND IDENTIFY WHICH ONE IS NEXT, STAY TUNED, I GO HE IS.

STAY TUNED IS FAIR.

WE HAVE OUR FINGERS ON THE PULSE OF AT LEAST A HALF DOZEN MORE SITES AND, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, THERE ARE MULTIPLE WAYS TO SHARE SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS WITH PEOPLE IN THE CITY THAT THEY MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AND UNLOCKING PEOPLE'S CURIOSITY AND GIVING THEM A CHANCE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THEIR CITY AND OR THEMSELVES BY PROXY IS A WONDERFUL GIFT TO BE ABLE TO GIVE PEOPLE.

I DEFINITELY THANK YOU BOTH FOR GIVING US THIS GIFT BECAUSE THEY WERE AMAZING AND FASCINATING AND OF COURSE HART ISLAND WAS QUITE HUMBLING TO WATCH.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE HIDDEN NEW YORK CITY GEMS AND MANY OTHERS, VISIT METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE DETAILS.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY -- ♪ ♪

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