I AM OHNY

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Robert Balder is Executive Director of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) New York City program, and has been an OHNY supporter from it’s start.

“I first learned about OHNY shortly after it was founded in 2001. The goal of promoting awareness and improving access to New York City’s architectural and cultural heritage has long been one of my passions,” says Bob. “In fact, many of my academic pursuits at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) parallel OHNY’s interests and programming. As OHNY has grown and expanded over the years, I’ve shared it with my colleagues and all of my students that study in New York City.”

This year, Bob brought together more than eighty Cornell students to participate in the 2015 OHNY Weekend. Over the course of two days, they crisscrossed the five boroughs, visiting many of the sites we had the opportunity to open up this year, to deepen their understanding of the city. Thank you Bob for sharing our programming with so many of your students and introducing them to the city’s many architectural and cultural treasures through us!

What do you love most about New York City?
It’s a tough question as there are so many aspects of New York City that I truly love, but I’d have to say it’s the city’s architecture (my favorite building is the Chrysler Building).

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
It was a special East River Boat Tour of the New York Harbor, in the summer of 2012. I was asked to speak about Cornell’s recent plans for its new Tech Campus under development at Roosevelt Island. Upon boarding the vessel I was impressed by the size of the group assembled and the intense interest in the topics we discussed that day. It truly demonstrated for me the importance of OHNY’s mission and the need to expand its offerings on a more frequent and consistent basis.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
It would have to be the American Museum of Natural History, which contains over 32 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, as well as cultural artifacts, all contained in 27 interconnected buildings totaling 2 million square feet of space. I would need many lifetimes to begin to understand even a small portion of it.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
OHNY provides our students (really all New Yorkers) with compelling and unique experiences that connect them to New York City in ways that classroom learning can’t. It stimulates their study of the city and inspires them to think deeply about our past, present, and future. I wish OHNY could be part of every course!

Help OHNY continue to expand its programming and stimulate all New Yorkers’ studies of the city, inspiring us to think deeply about our past, present and future.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Saundra Thomas is Vice President of Community Affairs at WABC-TV, a longtime media sponsor of OHNY Weekend. She first heard about Open House New York in its early years, when OHNY founder Scott Lauer reached out to WABC-TV for promotional support for OHNY Weekend, and has been involved ever since!

Dedicated to community service, Saundra was a candidate for New York City Council in 2013 and is an active board member of a number of nonprofit organizations in the city. This November, she also joined OHNY’s governing board. We’re excited to welcome her aboard!

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What do you love most about New York City?
The diversity of the people, food and culture, the freedom it gives you to find your place, and that it is surrounded by water!

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
This year, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Coffey Street residence. The best thing about it was the friendliness of architect and owner Thomas Warnke; the pride he took in showing us his home; the attention to detail he clearly took in designing it; and most of all, how much the space made us feel as if we wanted to live in it!

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would love to be backstage from start to finish for a big concert. I’ve been fortunate to see lots of concerts at various performing arts spaces, but as a non-musician, I’d love to go backstage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center, not only to experience the physical space, but also to experience the energy of those places before a big show. I’d love to be in the wings at Alvin Ailey in City Center. After the show, I’d love to see how everything is broken down and brought back to its “bare” form. I’m fascinated by how these spaces seem “come to life!”

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It creates access to places and spaces that make New York great and connects people in the process.

Help OHNY continue connect New Yorkers to each other and to the places and spaces that it make it a great city.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Phillip Sulke is founder of Shopikon and an OHNY member. He has contributed and participated in a number of our programs, from talks and boat tours, OHNY Weekend, and special events!

“OHNY appeared on my radar for its yearly OHNY Weekend. Once I visited a few sites I was sold. I knew that I wanted to participate more and not have to wait a full year,” says Phillip. “Being passionate about urban development and architecture made it very easy to join OHNY.”

Thank you Phillip for supporting our work as an OHNY member!

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What do you love most about New York City?
I love the fact that you can never keep up with everything, whether it is music, art, or food. There is always something to learn, try, and experience. No other city makes it so easy to recharge your creative batteries.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
Taking a taxi boat down the Gowanus Canal. It was such an unusual and neglected corner of the city. I could have never seen without OHNY in such a way.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would visit all skyscrapers that were built between 1910 and 1935, especially their penthouses. Designers and architects from that period had so much more leeway to be inventive and playful with their ideas.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It opens locked doors and tells untold stories.

Help OHNY continue to share New York’s untold stories.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Shaelyn Amaio is Consultant at Lord Cultural Resources and the creator of #WorldsFairWednesday, one of our favorite Instagram hashtags. Every week, she celebrates World’s Fair history with an image she’s taken or found, along with a little bit of World’s Fair history.

Shaelyn is also a public experience advocate and has been an OHNY Weekend superfan since 2011. “Once I realized that OHNY was dedicated to increasing access to New York’s treasures, I was hooked,” says Shaelyn. “I love to explore New York City, especially when I can bring friends and family along for the adventure. OHNY opens the city to me in so many ways, and when it’s an OHNY event I know it’ll be great.”

Thank you Shaelyn for exploring New York City through OHNY and sharing your love for our work with so many!

What do you love most about New York City?
My favorite thing about New York City is how many layers of history there are here and how many human stories have played out in every building and on every street corner throughout the city. Because New York has been reinventing itself since the city was founded, so much of this history is obscured–either hiding in plain sight or because the physical evidence of it has been destroyed. I’m continuously surprised and intrigued by New York City.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
During this year’s Open House New York Weekend, I spent an afternoon in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and got to go inside the New York State Pavilion! Since I first moved to Queens, I’ve loved visiting the park–the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World’s Fairs–to visit the cultural attractions there, go to Mets games, learn the history of the fairs, and just enjoy the green space. I’ve spent so much time peering through the locked gate to the Pavilion, trying to get a feel for the space, that it was really surreal to walk in and look up at the observation towers from inside the pavilion. I can’t wait to see what develops for the New York State Pavilion in the coming years. I’m so thrilled that Open House New York teamed up with the Park and the folks working to preserve the Pavilion to offer public access.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would love to explore some of the sites all over the city where scientists worked, materials were stored, and experiments were conducted as part of the Manhattan Project in New York City. Most of those sites are unmarked and unremarkable today, which makes their history even more interesting to me.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It empowers people to explore their city, to get to know it in new ways, and to care about it more deeply than before.

Help OHNY continue to empower New Yorkers to understand their city more deeply.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is a campaign we began in 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is one of OHNY’s earliest champions. She and her husband, both history buffs, have participated in OHNY Weekend as visitors. During the 2004 OHNY Weekend, they had the rare opportunity to see the interior of the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument on the Upper West Side, her City Council District at the time.

More recently, since being elected Manhattan Borough President, she has also participated in OHNY Weekend as a site host. New York City Borough Presidents are responsible for maintaining the official maps for their borough. During the 2014 OHNY Weekend, Brewer hosted a map display of the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811–the most influential map in New York City’s history, which proposed the reorganization of the city into the rectangular grid we know today–and portions of John Randel’s 1820 survey of Manhattan–the real-world implementation of the Commissioner’s Plan. For the 2015 OHNY Weekend, she displayed the complete set of Randel’s maps, comprising 92 hand-drawn and hand-colored panels of the entire island, which was the first time in memory that the entire set had ever been displayed in full.

“When I took office two years ago, I knew the historic maps in the flat files of our Topological Bureau deserved to be seen by all, which is why I’ve hosted a map display, in the McKim, Mead & White-designed Municipal Building, the last two OHNY Weekends,” says Borough President Brewer.

Thank you Borough President Brewer for your commitment to sharing Manhattan’s treasures with the public!

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What do you love most about New York City?
New York City is fantastic for the sheer variety of cityscapes: from centuries-old historic fabric, such as the South Street Seaport or Henry James-era townhouses on Washington Square North, to the more of-the-moment, such as the revitalized area around the new World Trade Center.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would love to see the spaces at the very top of the Chrysler Building.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It lets fans of New York deepen their fandom, opening an incredibly wide range of doors to anyone, resident or visitor.

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.