Phantom City Meet-up | October 31, 2009

People are pretty psyched about the Museum of the Phantom City, the iPhone app that Brett Snyder and Irene Cheng developed and discussed with us here. So we’re going to get together with Brett, Irene and our WNYC friends this Saturday, October 31, to explore the app and talk about it. Come hang out with us and get your phantom on (it’s Halloween, after all). We’ll be meeting by the Bryant Park Fountain (on the 6th Avenue side) at 2pm. Brett and Irene will show us how the app works and lead us on a brief wander through midtown and then we will regroup at a nearby hotel bar to talk informally about mobile media, architectural history, urban exploration and all sorts of other Omnibus-y topics.

Clearly, we’re not the only ones who think this is the coolest thing to hit our iPhones since Shazam. Coverage from the Times to BLDGBLOG has affirmed that these guys are onto something. As Cheng and Snyder discussed in last week’s feature:

iPhones and mobile devices are undoubtedly transforming the way we navigate the city. Apps like Google Maps and Urbanspoon put an unprecedented amount of information about the city at one’s fingertips. Most of these programs, however, are purely functional in purpose: they seek to clarify the city, to demystify and make it more legible. In contrast, we are interested in how mobile media can deepen and intensify urban experience, perhaps even introducing new pleasures and mysteries of the metropolitan condition.

Cheng and Snyder have built a new app that uses GPS technology to explore “how mobile media can deepen and intensify urban experience, perhaps even introducing new pleasures and mysteries of the metropolitan condition.” The app is called “Museum of the Phantom City,” and it turns the iPhone into an “architectural dousing rod.” As you wander the streets of New York, it shows a city that could have been — 50 architecture sites that never got built.

WNYC’s Soterios Johnson took the iPhone tour with Irene Cheng. They started off at Bryant Park, the site of a proposed airport. Take a listen to the tour:


Cheng and Snyder developed the app with the help of the Van Alen Institute — the beta version of the app is available for free on iTunes, and you can see the whole tour on their website.

On Saturday afternoon, come join us and WNYC’s culture department as Cheng and Snyder take us on a mid-town tour of some of the sites. If you don’t have an iPhone, we’ll pair you with someone who does. RSVP to

Urban Omnibus and WNYC Meet-up
Museum of the Phantom City

Saturday, October 31
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Meet at the Bryant Park Fountain (6th Avenue side)
Drinks and conversation to follow
RSVP to or on Facebook

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.