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Talking Top Tens: Michelle Young

Founder, Untapped Cities


Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped Cities, a web magazine about urban discovery and exploration in NYC and around the world. She’s traveled to over 40 countries, always with her SLR cameras in tow, and her photography has been published in the Wall Street Journal, and exhibited at the 2014 Venice Biennale and The Museum of the City of New York. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and is the author of two forthcoming books on the history of Broadway and the hidden bars and restaurants of New York City. Follow Untapped Cities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And more with Michelle Young…

What do you love most about your work?

I love that every day, my job is to find the most inspiring architectural finds and hidden places and share them with our readers–helping them rediscover their own cities in a new way, whether they’re long time residents or new transplants. Reading excited emails from residents who also want to contribute to Untapped Cities is just about the best thing to land in my inbox every day.   

Your last great read:

I’m re-reading Wool by Hugh Howey because it’s too good. It’s like a smarter Hunger Games, still dystopian and still a page turner but written for adults.

The beauty product found in your bag at all times:

The Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Eye Pencil. My beauty regimen takes less than 3 minutes a day, and eye pencil is the only touch up that’s a must-have in the bag. 

Your motto in life:

Don’t forget to look up! Everything I do now is because I opened my eyes to everything around me. I met my husband in a hostel while backpacking in Bolivia because I stopped reading in my hammock and went to meet some fellow travelers.

Your current Netflix addiction:

I’ve been into dark, moody crime shows recently while waiting for Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and Homeland to come back. So I binge watched Spiral (called Engrenages in France), an amazing French crime show set in Paris, all four seasons of The Killing, and then Peaky Blinders, an Irish Boardwalk Empire with Cillian Murphy. 

Your go-to power outfit:

A navy dupioni silk dress from APC. It adapts to any occasion–from meetings to teaching to going out. 

One piece of advice you would give your 18 year old self:

All your best-laid plans will probably change and that’s for the better–so just take every opportunity and side path that opens up your understanding of the world. Also, don’t suntan. 

Skincare product you can’t live without:

Armani Maestro Foundation. No matter what state you’re in, it makes you look flawless and glowing and literally feels like nothing on your skin. 

A secret talent we should know about:

I’m actually a classically-trained cellist. I’ve gone from performing in Carnegie Hall to destroying cellos on stage at SXSW, and I even got a gig as a principal actor in Steven Soderbergh’s film Side Effects as “The Cellist” and got to work with Soderbergh on the music of a scene. 

Your (real life) hero and why:

My grandfather. At 16, he survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima because he stopped to chat with a friend while driving into the city, putting him just outside ground zero. He survived the bomb, but his appendix exploded just before he had to get on a warship back to Taipei–if he had gotten on the boat, he wouldn’t have made it. He was enormously happy and loving, and I’ve learned from him that taking a second to do a random thing can change the course of your life.