Onswipe Publisher Michelle Young of Untapped Cities Talks Travel and New York City
Untapped Cities, a travel blog that focuses on rediscovering large cities like New York, uses Onswipe to publish its iPad edition. We love the great pictures on the site and the way it makes us take a second look at our home. That’s why we cozied up with Michelle Young, the site’s publisher, to learn more about Untapped Cities. Edited for length.
Onswipe: There are a lot of great photo-heavy travel blogs out there. How did Untapped Cities get so popular?
Michelle Young: That’s a great question. One of the core missions of Untapped Cities—and one that has remains from the site’s inception—is that we want to help people re-discover their city. We uncover aspects of cities, whether it’s the buildings, the people, the history, or the spaces in which we live, that you might not know about even if you’re a long-time resident. The second equally important mission is to use great photography and soon, video, to bring people to the places we talk about. But most importantly, it is a platform that anyone can get involved with.
MY: In 2008 I decided to leave my career in fashion and go backpacking. It was a last ditch attempt to find myself, having done everything I thought I should be doing without ever thinking about what I wanted to be doing.
I went backpacking through Southeast Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. I did earthquake relief work in Peru and Indonesia. I had spent 25 years planning or having my life planned for me, so on these trips, the plan was to have no plan.
Somewhere along the road, on an unpaved road in Cambodia with dirt and bugs flying into my face, I realized that this is how I wanted to live.
Later I realized that I had an ability to get the story, live the crazy experience, and capture the one perfect photograph–and I wanted to be able to share that experience with others.
MY: I have five rules of careers:
1.) Quit fast and often, if it’s not right for you.
2.) It’s okay to take time off.
3.) Be curious. Be willing and open to accept all that comes to you, by luck and by hard work. You never know what path it might lead you on.
4.) Just ask. It can only help.
5.) Keep in touch.
Weird and quirky facts also surprise New Yorkers, like the fact that Napoleon’s penis is stored in a basement in New Jersey, that we have a Superhero Supply Store, and that part of the Berlin Wall sits in Midtown.
Finally, it’s about looking closely at the evolution of uses in buildings. There’s a tourist gift shop in Times Square that still has pieces of an automat that once existed there—David Freeland talks about it in his book, Automat, Taxidances and Vaudeville.