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They have been described as “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best.” They are our national parks, and this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in August 1916, to preserve our nation’s most spectacular scenery and its most sacred sites. Beginning with Yellowstone, the first national park, the National Park Service today oversees more than four hundred sites, encompassing 84 million acres and 21,000 buildings, including a dozen sites in New York City.

Open House New York is proud to partner with the National Park Service to present Celebrating a Centennial – National Park Service, a special 2016 OHNY Weekend celebration of the nation’s most treasured sites and to help kick-off a second century of preservation and stewardship.

Experiences include after-hours tours of Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the historic home of Alexander Hamilton, and the General Grant National Memorial, the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant; NPS Ranger-led tours of the African Burial Ground National Monument, the hallowed ground where free and enslaved Africans were buried through the late 18th century, and the Stonewall National Monument, one of the National Park Service’s newest site.

Open House New York an the National Park Service are also presenting Empty Ellis, a special tour of Ellis Island that lands at sunrise before it opens the public. On Saturday, October 15, twenty lucky winners will have the opportunity to explore the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration as the early morning sun bathes the Great Hall in a quiet stillness rarely experienced by the site’s four million visitors each year. Tickets to this tour are being raffled here. Entries will be accepted through 5pm on Tuesday, October 5. Winners will be randomly selected and announced that day.

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Celebrating a Centennial – National Park Service Sites

African Burial Ground National Monument
Civic Center, Manhattan

Battery Weed
Rosebank, Staten Island

Castle Clinton National Monument
Financial District, Manhattan

Castle Williams & Fort Jay
Governors Island

Empty Ellis
Ellis Island

Federal Hall National Memorial Historic Site
Gramercy, Manhattan

General Grant National Memorial
Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Harlem, Manhattan

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Lower East Side, Manhattan

Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field
Marine Park, Brooklyn

Stonewall National Monument
Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National
Financial District, Manhattan

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Most Celebrating a Centennial – National Park Service sites are Open Access and may be visited free-of-charge on a drop-in basis. National Park Service Ranger-led tours and re-enactments will be performed at select sites. Full tour descriptions and information about how to visit these sites will be available on October 5.

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.


Images: General Grant National Memorial by Don Stanko; Battery Weed courtesy of the National Park Service; Hamilton Grange National Memorial courtesy of the National Park Service; Floyd Bennet Field by Yi-Chin Lin; Ellis Island courtesy of the National Park Service; and African Burial Ground National Memorial courtesy of the National Park Service.

An amazing group of more than 1,400 people from across New York and around the world have signed up to volunteer and help make the 2016 Open House New York Weekend possible. They all share a love of New York City, and make up a vibrant mix of new and returning volunteers.

This week, meet Julián Leonardo Reyes Caballero, a returning volunteer and recent New York transplant, and Sascha Swanson, a first time volunteer!



Name: Julián Leonardo Reyes Caballero
Occupation: CPA & photography amateur
Neighborhood: I recently moved to Brooklyn, but previously lived in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Ohio. Now I live just a block away from the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Favorite spot in New York City?
Being in New York City for about ten years now, my favorite spot has changed throughout the years as I discovered the city more and more. I think nowadays my favorite spot is the National Gateway Park and Fort Tilden. I also love Bryant Park and the New York Public Library for its quaintness and the charm of the park surrounded by the public library, American Radiator, and the Bank of America buildings. Plus, it’s one of the oldest memories I have from New York, before actually visiting the city, from watching Ghostbusters. I have met great people in that park, and I enjoy going there for lunch breaks, summer concerts, and the ice skating rink.

Best Open House New York memory?
Through Open House New York, I have been able to meet great people from the organization as well as many visitors with a strong interest in discovering architecture. It gives New Yorkers the opportunity to discover the city from the other side of the façade, from the inside spaces that most people don’t get to see or that are only open to the public once a year during the OHNY Weekend. I participated in OHNY at the Scandinavia House and I liked the interior design and the concept of the place – sharing Scandinavian culture. Among other things, it has an educational area and a playground for kids. Many people come to see the architectural aspect of the place, but also many parents use it as a place where they can play and enjoy time with their little ones, which gives it a very good vibe.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I am not an architect myself, but some beloved members of my family have been architects. As a result, architecture was a frequent topic in family conversations during dinner, local trips, and traveling abroad. Most of our trips abroad had an architectural appreciation component. That passion encouraged me to sign up to volunteer for OHNY Weekend so I can be a host for people with appreciation for architecture and urban planning. I can’t leave out that my girlfriend is an architect and we both go out exploring the city every time we can. Trying to find those hidden gems out there.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
A New York City symbol, then and now, and a statement of Big Dreams becoming true: The Chrysler Building. Since the very first time I saw it, I was fascinated. The splendor, the eagles, the reflections, the Art Deco details. It is a big statement from a past and a present time.

Most interesting place you’ve traveled?
The URO islands at Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia. These artificial islets made out of a reed called ‘totora’ float on a massive lake 12,000 feet above sea level. It is impressive to see such an eco-efficient process where a single lake plant, ‘totora’, is used to build the islets, the houses on top, the beds, the boats, and the lookout towers. All this impressive panorama is mingled with solar panels to provide electric power. The route to get there is somewhat surreal: you travel on the flat lands of the high Andean plateau surrounded by snow topped mountains, traditional and colorfully dressed locals, alpacas, land being worked, and a chill breeze from being at such altitude.

Fun fact?
I can’t say no to a good piece of cheese. So friends and family don’t ever ask me for help shredding cheese for making a pizza or that pizza may end up with just tomato sauce, and no cheese.




Name: Sascha Swanson
Occupation: IBEW Local 3 Electrician
Neighborhood: Sunnyside, Queens

Favorite spot in New York City?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has everything. I’ve been a member for over twenty years and haven’t come close to seeing it all. But it’s not just the collection; the buildings are such an intrinsic part of the experience for me. The expansion and evolution of Fifth Avenue is fascinating. The Cloisters is an oasis of Medieval Europe at the tip of Manhattan – wandering through it truly transports me across the Atlantic. And the addition of the Breuer adds a masterpiece of Brutalism to the Met’s architecture “collection.”

Best Open House New York memory?
I loved the tour of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse. I’m a Law & Order junkie, so just being able to enter that building was a thrill. Then our tour guide was very familiar with the renovations and was able to answer a lot of my construction questions.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
Last year was my first year taking advantage of OHNY and I loved it. I tried to hit as many places as possible: Federal Hall, Cunard Building, The John Randel Map display at the Municipal Building, The Four Seasons and the Austrian Cultural Forum, and I made it to Saarinen’s TWA terminal, which I’ve been trying to get inside for years. Volunteers are what makes these events possible – I wanted to help enable others to enjoy this great access to the city.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
I’ve been working on the renovation at the United Nations for a while now, so I suppose I’d be that just from osmosis.

Favorite construction site you’ve worked on?
As an apprentice, I worked in the Citicorp Center (now called 601 Lexington) and got a special tour of the counterweight at the top from the building engineers. Two pistons are poised to push a massive block of concrete on a pad of oil to counteract wind. Having read the history of the building and its weekend remedial welding sessions to storm proof it, seeing that part of the building was incredible.

Fun Fact?
I have a collection of detritus I’ve found on renovation jobs – like 40 year old cans of soda and beer – and I take pictures of matchbooks and newspapers preserved in concrete pours and other garbage left behind from long gone construction crews. It’s my own little bit of urban archaeology.


A huge thank you to Julian and Sascha and to the 1,400 individuals who registered to volunteer during the 2016 OHNY Weekend on October 15 and 16! 


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Open House New York is partnering with dsgnfix to help you navigate the city during the 2016 OHNY Weekend. dsgnfix is a free, location-based iPhone app that enables you to search, discover and share design destinations.

During OHNY Weekend, all Open Access sites will be listed on dsgnfix, with information about location and what times you can visit. It’s a great tool to find where to go next – dsgnfix uses your location to map the sites that are closest to you.

You can also use dsgnfix to post and share your own design discoveries – a building, a park, a unique view. Share what inspires you! Take a picture, write a description, and post to share with your friends, other OHNY Weekend explorers, and the dsgnfix community. After OHNY Weekend is over, you can use dsgnfix to continue navigating the world through the lens of design.

Visit the App Store on your iPhone and search for “dsgnfix” to download the app today, or visit

Please note: dsgnfix is availably only for iPhone users at the current time.

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For the second consecutive year, Open House New York has partnered with Curbed to present Curbed Curates: Residences. Tours at ten private residences and residential buildings around the city that celebrate the Curbed mantra, “love where you live” will be open to visit. From a model apartment in the recently converted Art Deco skyscraper 70 Pine to one of the first Passive House woodframe buildings in New York, Curbed Curates: Residences will let visitors see how New Yorkers live.

Sites include the Clifton Residence in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, one of the first Passive House wood frame buildings in the city; a model apartment in 70 Pine, the recently converted Art Deco skyscraper in the Financial District; and Urby Staten Island, a new residential development on the North Shore in Staten Island.

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Curbed Curates: Residences
70 Pine
Stephen B. Jacobs Group

The Charles
Ismael Leyva Architects

Chinatown Loft
Buro Koray Duman

Clifton Residence
Paul A. Castrucci Architect

Kane Residence
id 810 design group

Minetta Lane Residence
KUSHNER studios

Modern Apartment in The Apthorp
Jennifer Post Design

Rafi Elbaz

Serge Drouin Residence
Serge Drouin Architect


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Most Curbed Curates: Residences require Advance Reservations, while others will be Open Access and may be visited free-of-charge on a drop-in basis. Full tour descriptions and information about how to visit these sites will be available on October 5.

Curbed delivers all the context you need to know about homes, neighborhoods, and cities–while serving up a constant source of inspiration and essential how-to knowledge. Through on-the-ground coverage in 14 American cities, Curbed covers all things home, from interior design and architecture to technology, renovations, and tiny houses to real estate, urban planning, and transportation.


Images: Urby by Ewout Huibers; Serge Drouin Residence courtesy of Serge Drouin; 70 Pine courtesy of Rose Associates; Modern Apartment in The Apthrop by Peter Krasowski; The Charles by Frances Katzen; SahoNYC by Carrie Buell.

An amazing group of more than 1,400 people from across New York and around the world have signed up to volunteer and help make the 2016 Open House New York Weekend possible. They all share a love of New York City, and make up a vibrant mix of new and returning volunteers.

This week, meet Tiffanie Green, one of district coordinators, and David Roder, an international volunteer!



District Coordinators are a special team of individuals who volunteer their entire weekend to make sure everything runs smoothly across the city. They are assigned specific neighborhoods and help manage all volunteers and sites in the area.


Name: Tiffanie Green
Occupation: Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Mount Sinai Health System
Neighborhood: Teaneck, NJ

Favorite spot in New York City?
Incredibly cliche, but I love Central Park. Taking a walk along the paths never fails to cheer me up.

Best Open House New York memory?
Last year, volunteers were invited to an incredible lecture by the NYC Department of Sanitation’s anthropologist-in-residence Robin Nagle. Not only did I not know NYC Sanitation had its own anthropologist, I also was clueless about the amazing role that trash has played in the shaping of the city. Besides opening the doors of incredible spaces to the masses, I enjoy OHNY’s imaginative and informative lectures. I have learned so much about the city through them.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I started volunteering immediately after graduating college when I was broke and underemployed. As a lifelong New Yorker, I’ve always admired the city’s rich architecture. Volunteering presented a free means of taking a backstage tour of these amazing spaces… plus it was a great way to take my mind off being broke and underemployed. : )

Why did you decide to be a District Coordinator this year?
I jumped at the opportunity to take a more active role in the Weekend. I have lived and/or worked in New York City for my entire life and yet there is always some part of the city that is newly amazing and inspiring. Being a District Coordinator seemed a great way to take an intimate tour of a neighborhood.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
Central Park is my favorite spot in New York City. Bethesda Fountain is my favorite piece of public art within the park. I’ve visited the fountain in the early mornings, before tourists descend, and I can find such a sense of calm. It’s a piece of serenity in this hectic city. I’d like to think I am too!

Fun fact?
My first word was Batman. I’m pretty sure this had something to do with Prince’s Batdance.



People from across the city and around the world travel to New York to give back to Open House New York and participate as volunteers each year.


Name: David Roder
Occupation: Architect working as the city engineer of a rural regional municipality near Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
Neighborhood: Nesher, a town next to Haifa, in the northern part of Israel

Favorite spot in New York City?
Sadly, it’s only a memory of something that is no longer there…the twin towers. For many reasons. I like very much Central Park as a public oasis for all. It’s been awhile since my last visit to New York, but I do remember very well all the fantastic museums and exhibitions I saw – that had a great impact on me for years.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
These Open House Weekends are important and interesting. They are held in major cities where we can learn and get to see those sometimes small projects which make our cities what they are, year after year. I have volunteered for the past five or six Open House Weekends in Tel Aviv and once in Jerusalem as well. Since I am planning on coming to New York during OHNY Weekend, I am very excited to volunteer. I want to take part in something I find not only important, but a big celebration of the energy of a city that is free for all.

What is your favorite site during Open House Tel Aviv?
It was an old Telephone Exchange building that was renovated and now it’s a hostel/hotel.


A huge thank you to Tiffanie and David and to the 1,400 individuals who registered to volunteer during the 2016 OHNY Weekend on October 15 and 16!