Bob Gelber
OHNY Program Sponsor and Member of the OHNY Volunteer Council
Lives in Lower Manhattan

1. Are you a native New Yorker? If not, when and why did you move here?

I was born and bred in Brooklyn and have lived in New York City my whole life. My wife and I now live across from the South Street Seaport and have been there for 32 years.

2. Do you have a favorite place/neighborhood in the city?

I just love Midtown. People make fun of me that I gravitate towards Rockefeller Center and now, since I’m a licensed tour guide, I know the history and find it to be really fascinating. Especially during the holidays with all the holiday lights. Yes, I love that! I do a holiday lights walk and every year I end up at the tree. I talk about the history of the tree and the area since the Depression. It’s a very special place for me.

3. What does OHNY mean to you? 

It is one of the most special events in New York City. What a wonderful opportunity to explore all these sites for free! The only sad thing is that it’s only two days a year. It should be all year long!

4. Why is OHNY important to New York City?

OHNY is important to the city because it shows the public what’s out there. OHNY motivates New Yorkers to expand their horizons and explore. Over the years, I’ve met so many people that before OHNY Weekend didn’t venture out of their comfort zone, but when they saw the amazing guide with all of these places in all the boroughs, they started going out. It whets one’s appetite for exploring, right? That’s it. Exactly! So you want to go out and do more.

5. How and when did you first learn about OHNY?

I must have read about it in somewhere and thought it was a really interesting idea. Then, I went to a volunteer recruitment event at St. Stephens Church and hundreds of people showed up. This was in the beginning. My first year as a volunteer, I was assigned to the Chrysler Building. All day people asked me, “When’s the tour to the top?” I had to tell them that the Cloud Club had closed 70 years ago, so they had missed the tour.

6. What has been your favorite OHNY site or program?

If I had to choose I would say it was the House of the Redeemer. There was a convent there from 1949 until 1980. And it was originally a mansion built in the early 20th century. Yes, that’s why I loved it. I try to go to as many of those former private residences as possible. The priest who was in charge gave a wonderful tour. He was so nice. I stood there for over an hour talking to him after the group had left.

7. If OHNY could grant you a New York City all-access pass, where would you go first?

That’s a really hard question because there are so many places I would love to see. The most exciting are probably those that I’m not even aware of. I really wanted to see the Woolworth Building and through OHNY I got to see that last year. I would love to see the space of the former Cloud Club in the Chrysler Building. I’ve heard some chatter they might attempt to restore it into a new restaurant.

8. Who is your favorite architect/designer/artist in the city?

I admire Diller Scofidio + Renfro. They created the High Line, which is so amazing, and they’re doing tours on a regular basis. They also re-imagined Lincoln Center. They gracefully tweaked it so it looks like it belongs in 2012 rather than when it was built in the 1960s.

9. It goes without saying that we all love New York City. What do you find most inspiring about the city?

You get to appreciate the city the more you meet people from other places, who are not accustomed to seeing so much in one place. I love the variety, the dining choices, the drinking choices, all the cultural events, the free events, the free movies during the summer, etc. There is so much diversity and I find that so exciting.

10. In one sentence, why should people support OHNY? 

Everyone should be a part of OHNY and explore New York City. Any donation amount helps the organization move forward so that we can eventually celebrate OHNY’s 20th Anniversary.

Thanks, Bob!

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