New York’s an Open House this Weekend

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

There are always a thousand and one more sights to see in New York no matter how long you’ve lived here, and this weekend the city is opening up its gates to even more possibilities.

On Saturday October 14 and Sunday October 15, the 15th Anniversary Open House New York Weekend gives people the opportunity to explore the magnificent architecture all around the five boroughs, with access to typically closed sites and buildings. More than 200 places around the city will be open to the public, where guests can receive tours from historians, city leaders and architects, allowing them to experience ‘The City that Never Sleeps’ in an entirely new light.

With the help of over 400 cultural and art organizations and 1,400 volunteers, the Open House New York Weekend has become one of the largest architecture festivals in the United States. Typically, the weekend hosts over 85,000 guests, and with this coming weekend being the 15th anniversary of the festival itself, the visitor list could exceed even that.

In honor of the anniversary, there are sites added to the enormous list of buildings and projects that were never before part of the OHNY Weekend. One of these new additions is the Bridge at Cornell Tech, which was created as a space of innovation for new ideas for the university. It was one of the first buildings completed for the new Roosevelt Island Campus. 

A division of the French Embassy in the US, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, will also be open to guests. It was established in the 1930s, with the hope to encourage Americans to immerse themselves in all aspects of French culture—literature, language, film and the arts. The mansion was constructed in part by Jacques Garcia, a celebrated French architect who built many interiors of Paris hotels.

Another first-time site of the weekend is Liggett Hall, a former military barrack designed in 1929. This enormous building on Governors Island was inspired by the barracks that the United States Army used in France during World War I, with the ability to house an entire army infantry. This weekend the archway gymnasium is available for viewing for the first time since the barrack was built.

The first OHNY Weekend took place in the fall of 2003, but the idea was first formed in 2001 and solidified after September 11. In the wake of the tragedy, most of the city shut down for security measures, but Scott Lauer, the Open House New York nonprofit founder, felt that it was more important than ever to celebrate New York. Since its founding, over 1,100 sites around New York City have become involved. While the primary objective of the weekend is to honor New York’s incredible architecture and urban design, Gregory Wessner, the executive director of the Open House New York, believes that its value delves much deeper.  “The anniversary of Open House New York comes at an especially significant moment in New York and the nation,” he says. “Planning for the first OHNY Weekend began in the fall of 2001, a time when New York had closed itself off in response to September 11. Fifteen years later, amidst a national conversation about the values of access and openness, we are reminded once again that the mission of Open House New York is as meaningful and urgent as it has ever been. OHNY Weekend remains a vibrant reminder that access and openness—to the city and each other—are fundamental to a healthy civic life and an empowered citizenry.”

Open House New York will kick off with a Weekend Launch Party on Thursday, October 12. For additional information on the event and the weekend’s activities, visit


A December to Remember with the Madison Avenue BID

Madison Avenue BID hosts 32nd annual Miracle on Madison

On The Avenue

Modern Manners: Accidents Will Happen

An unintentional cartoon from Anthony Haden-Guest


Rules Don’t Rule

Our columnist rues a world with too many rules