A weekend at Open House New York

A weekend at Open House New York

It should come as no surprise that I get very excited about views, books and New York City: give me the chance to have insider access to all three, and I’m in heaven. As soon as I heard about Open House New York, I was sold (I went to Melbourne Open House eons ago and loved it): it’s basically a weekend where buildings of all kinds (private residences, churches, libraries, corporate skyscrapers) open up their doors to the public. Most places are free, but you can register for special behind-the-scenes tours at some locations for $5 a pop.View from the Tudor City Overpass, Open House New YorkAnd honestly, the weekend was everything that I could have dreamed of! It’s been a while since I had two whole days to gallivant around the city and look at buildings and wander through unfamiliar neighborhoods all by myself: it reminded me just how much I love New York City, and just how much I enjoy a solo adventure. Here’s a little video of the sites, and below are a few highlights from the official Open House New York program:

   View from Tudor City Penthouse, Open House New York Tudor City Penthouse, Open House New York

Tudor City Penthouse

My very first stop was a tour of the penthouse that was the Green Goblin’s lair in Spiderman–although I registered mostly to a) see the view from the terrace and b) soak up the quiet of Tudor City. The current owner has an epic art and antique collection–and honestly, I just love the chance to get a peek inside fancy apartments in the city!

Ford Foundation building in Open House New York

Ford Foundation

This wasn’t originally on my list of places I wanted to see, but it was right next to Tudor City, so I decided to pop in–and I’m so glad I did! And honestly, that’s what I love about Open House New York: you get the chance to see buildings that you would normally never see otherwise. The Ford Foundation headquarters overlook a lush 12-story atrium and features such gorgeous mid-century touches.

Jefferson Market Library at Open House New York Jefferson Market Library at Open House New York Jefferson Market Library at Open House New York

Jefferson Market Library

THAT IS THE FACE OF PURE JOY. I have been weirdly obsessed with Jefferson Market Library ever since I learned more about its history earlier this year: it looks like a church, but it was actually a prison and a market and now it’s a library. And there is a clock tower that is only open to the public for four hours a year–aka one afternoon on Open House weekend. I waited in line for an hour (aka I got there 30 minutes before it even opened) on a very cold day before climbing the narrow staircase all the way to the top–and it was so, so, so worth it. The views of uptown and downtown are amazing, but I just loved the feeling of getting to see the city from a vantage point that so few have.

New York Marble Cemetery, Open House New York

New York City Marble Cemetery

I’m also weirdly into cemeteries, and I’ve been interested in the New York City Marble Cemetery after reading about it in Secret New York. It’s one of two non-sectarian cemeteries built in New York City in the 19th century, and former president James Monroe is buried here!

Umbrella House Rooftop Garden, Open House New York Umbrella House Rooftop Garden, Open House New York

Umbrella House Rooftop Garden

I’m continually impressed by how people utilize the limited space we have in New York City, and Umbrella House Rooftop Garden is no exception. The building itself has an interesting history: it was a squat on the LES until it was converted into an affordable housing co-op in the early 2000s. Now they have a garden committee to oversee the 820-square-foot green roof, but all residents can take and eat what’s grown there.

La Plaza Cultural Garden in East Village, New York

La Plaza Cultural

Not officially part of Open House New York, but it’s been a while since I walked through East Village: I forgot how many awesome community gardens there are. La Plaza Cultural definitely won for having the best art to enjoy: I loved the yarn-bomb dinosaur!

Brooklyn Central Library, Open House New YorkBrooklyn Central Library, Open House New York

Brooklyn Central Library

I’ve always loved the facade of Brooklyn Central Library, so I was eager to go on a behind-the-scenes tour. Not only did we get to see an incredible view of Grand Army Plaza from both the Trustees’ Room AND the roof, but we also got to see the Treasure Room (its rare and ancient collection of children’s books), the underground stacks, the original card catalogs. IT WAS AWESOME.

What building would you most like to visit in New York City? Have you ever done an open house in a city?

  • These kinds of Open House days are always so much fun!

  • I had seen signs for this event and now your post makes me wish I hadn’t missed out on it!!! You have such a knack for photographing this city in a way that makes everyday things look so beautiful. Thanks for this post!

  • meganalley

    When I first looked at your second picture of the 12-story atrium I thought your vantage point was looking up at a wall of trees. Now I see it’s looking down into the atrium. Total mind trip! Looks amazing!

  • camorose

    Yes! Such a fun little way to see the city in a brand-new way!

  • camorose

    you’ll have to sign up for next year–it’s awesome! And thank you for the kind words 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes, isn’t that trippy?! I just can’t believe that some people get to work over an atrium–such an awesome office setup, especially in the winter.

  • So many pretty snapshots of the city!

    Her Heartland Soul

  • Crystal Richard

    I’ve never heard of an Open House day but my gosh I’d love to take one in! Especially in NYC.

    I think I’d love to see the behind the scenes of the Plaza Hotel in NYC. I love just walking the halls and taking it all in, imagining it in the Gatsby era. I’m sure there’s tons of beauty behind closed doors.

    PS: I have a weird attraction to old cemeteries too! I spent an hour curled up reading next to Oscar Wilde’s grave at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and it was one of the highlights of my trip! 🙂

  • So cool! There is an Open House in Buenos Aires next month and I’m hoping that I am successful in getting access 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! Enjoy!

  • camorose

    Ohhhh the Plaza! I’ll have to check and see if they ever give BTS tours, that would be awesome! Pere Lachaise is one of my favorite cemeteries–it’s so beautiful AND kind of a cool history lesson.

  • camorose

    Thank you!