Yesterday was the annual ritual known as Reservation Day for Open House New York Weekend. It is an intense day for everyone who participates and, regardless of how successful you might have been in getting the tours you wanted, a day that generates a range of emotions that run from exhilaration through to frustration and anger. Underlying it all is confusion and disbelief–there is no way, we hear over and over, that an architecture festival could generate so much activity. But as inconceivable as this may seem, it does. It is with tongue only slightly in cheek that we like to say that what Adele is to concerts or Hamilton is to Broadway musicals, OHNY Weekend is to buildings.

I’ll skip the superlatives because I think the numbers tell a powerful enough story. By 5:00 pm yesterday, 11,222 Advance Reservations had been made; 10,000 of those were booked in the first sixty minutes after reservations opened at 11 am. According to Google Analytics, we had upwards of 37,000 users on our web site yesterday, who viewed more than 340,000 pages. If it seemed like all of the tours sold out immediately, it is because in large part they did. Not because they were presold or–to refute one of our favorite conspiracy theories–because scalper bots bought them all; it is because there were literally tens of thousands of people competing for what is ultimately a limited number of tickets. To put yesterday’s unprecedented reservation tally in some historical context, on the comparable day last year, we processed 7,000 reservations, which was itself a record-breaker.

We know that these numbers will not diminish the disappointment of not getting the tour(s) you wanted. To say that those of us at OHNY are conflicted about the issue of reservations is an understatement. In an ideal world, there would be no reservations at all and every site would be Open Access. But the reality is that there are sites, often for reasons of security or space, that need to limit the number of visitors. If we did not have the option of Advance Reservations, it is not a question that these sites would have to decline to participate. For now, we stand on the belief that limited access is better than none at all. But please know that we read and take to heart all of your comments, and are always considering ways to make improvements.

But I also want to stress that to focus only on the Advance Reservation sites–or worse, to boycott the Weekend altogether because a specific tour was no longer available–is to miss the whole point of Open House New York Weekend. Nearly 150 buildings will be Open Access this OHNY Weekend, meaning you do not need a reservation at all. This is a list that includes some of the most beautiful, inspiring, and iconic spaces in New York, from Stanford White’s stunning Gould Memorial Library to the Brooklyn Army Terminal to City Hall.

To help you make connections to this incredible trove of sites, for the first time ever, we have posted on each sold out Advance Reservation site’s page at least one suggestion for an Open Access alternative, sites that are similar in design or program for which you need absolutely no reservations! Wanted to go Google? Try the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. Missed out on Newtown Creek? Check out the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility. Visit the pages of all the Advance Reservation tours you hoped for and there will be an Open Access alternative that you can visit instead, no reservation necessary.

Whatever else there is to say about yesterday, we still stand in awe of what this intense activity reveals about the extraordinary depth of interest and passion that so many people have for this city. It is a testament to what a powerful idea OHNY Weekend is: that for one weekend a year, doors are opened and access is granted to places and spaces that are otherwise off limits to us. OHNY Weekend reminds us that this city that we live in together is our single most important shared resource, and its buildings and public spaces and infrastructure are fundamental to shaping the nature and quality of the lives we live.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Open House New York and we hope you have a wonderful OHNY Weekend!

Gregory Wessner
Executive Director

Registration for sites that require Advance Reservations is now open. You can find the full list of sites on our website by clicking here. If the site you were hoping to score tickets for is sold out, we encourage you to visit the Plan Your Weekend page to check out the listings for Open Access sites—the majority of sites that participate in OHNY Weekend do not require reservations at all!

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While the majority of sites open during OHNY Weekend are Open Access and can be visited free of charge and without reservations on October 15 and 16, some sites and tours require Advance Reservations due to space or security restrictions. Information about all sites and tours can be viewed at Advance Reservations begin on Thursday, October 6 at 11 am.

In 2015, more than 8,500 reservation slots went live on Reservation Day, and 7,000 were booked within the  hour. If you’re a seasoned OHNY Weekend participant you’ve probably got a tried-and-true strategy for reserving spots on the tours you most want to attend. But if you haven’t participated in Reservation Day before, we’d recommend taking the following points into consideration as you get ready for the big day!

Above all, keep in mind that tens of thousands of people compete for limited spots on Reservation Day. While OHNY staff makes every effort to work with site hosts to facilitate as much access as possible, some sites have very limited capacity, and tours can be booked seconds after reservations open. If there are 100 slots at a site and 2,000 people are trying to reserve tickets, it can literally come down to a difference of milliseconds!

  Building date: 1989 renovation: ongoing Architect: Paul M. Rudolph The last NY townhouse built by modernist Paul Rudolph, with its series of intricately interwoven horizontal and vertical spaces.

  • Head to OHNY uses Eventbrite to manage all reservations for OHNY Weekend; each Advanced Reservation tour has its own web listing at and a corresponding reservation page on Eventbrite. Reservation links to Eventbrite will go live on web listings at 11 AM on Thursday, October 6. A list of all Advance Reservation tours with links directly to corresponding Eventbrite pages will also be posted on at that time, as well as on OHNY’s Facebook page and the OHNY blog.
  • Know the basics: There is a $5 fee, per guest, for each reservation, and you will be able to reserve for up to two people for each tour. If you are reserving for more than two people on a tour, you will need to go through the reservation process multiple times. This is done to ensure that no one guest is able to book large numbers of spots on any one tour. Once you begin a reservation, Eventbrite gives you eight (8) minutes to complete your reservation, so have your payment information ready before you begin.
  • An Eventbrite account will give you an edge: You do not need an Eventbrite account to make reservations for OHNY Weekend tours, but having one can help speed up the reservation process, as Eventbrite will save your name, address, and credit card info (if you grant it permission to do so). This cuts down on the time each reservation will take to complete.

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  • Know your priorities: The more excited you are about a tour, the better the chances that lots of other people are excited about it, too. Know going in that you may not have time to secure spots on every tour on your list. As the Bowery Boys once famously tweeted, “Only in New York would tickets for a Woolworth [Building] tour sell out faster than a One Direction concert.” Make sure you have lots of options.
  • And remember: There are plenty of great Open Access sites that you can visit without a reservation!  The majority of sites participating in OHNY Weekend have Open Access hours on October 15 and 16, meaning that you do not any reservations at all. If you can’t get a reservation for a tour, there are still many beautiful, fascinating, and wonderful places to explore during OHNY Weekend! We’ve heard plenty of people say “all of the best sites require reservations,” but we can say that this is emphatically not true. Many of our most visited sites, from the Brooklyn Army Terminal to New York City Hall, require no reservations at all to visit.

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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
Financial District, 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
Gramercy, 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.


Open House New York and Wikimedia NYC invite you to participate in one of the largest collaboratively compiled and edited media projects in history.

Submit your best photos taken at any 2016 OHNY Weekend site or tour for a chance to win prizes! Prizes will be awarded to the best photos in three categories – Interiors, Exteriors, and Details – one of which will also be named Grand Prize Winner.

All submitted photographs will become part of Wikimedia Commons, the online repository of free-use, public domain images that are used across Wikimedia—including as illustrations for Wikipedia articles. Your photos could one day illustrate an article about an OHNY Weekend site, architecture, or New York City!

Submissions must be taken during OHNY Weekend on October 15 and 16, 2016 and feature a participating site. The deadline to submit photos is Sunday, October 23 at 11:59pm.

Please note: In keeping with the guidelines of Wikimedia Commons, all photos entered into the Wikipedia @ OHNY Weekend Photo Competition will be considered to be freely licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, permitting free use for any purpose and the creation of derivative works.


Prizes will be awarded to the best photos in three categories – Interiors, Exteriors, and Details – one of which will also be named a Grand Prize Winner. Each category winner will receive a $100 voucher for New York City Photo Safari that can be used towards booking any regular Photo Safari and a signed copy of 100 Years, 100 Buildings by John Hill. One Grand Prize Winner will also receive a $250 Amazon Gift Card and a brand new Tamrac HooDoo 20 camera backpack.

One winner will be chosen in each category – Interiors, Exteriors, and Details – from among all submission by judges:
Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director, Museum of the City of New York
Pat Kiernan, Morning Anchor, NY1
Sylvia Kollar, Director, Municipal Archives, New York City Department of Records and Information Services
Christopher Payne, Photographer
Frank Rocco, Photographer, New York City Photo Safari
Saundra Thomas, Vice-President of Community Affairs, WABC-TV

To Enter
Submit your photo online at The deadline to submit photos is 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 23. Photos will not be accepted via any other means. Please note that you will be asked to create a Wikimedia Commons account to submit photos, and be sure to include your email address so that you can be contacted if you are selected as a category winner.

Photo submissions should:
• Be taken during OHNY Weekend on Saturday or Sunday, October 15 or 16, 2016 at a participating OHNY Weekend site or tour
• Be properly labeled in the “description” field with the name of the site or tour in which the photo was taken. Photo descriptions that do not name the site will not be eligible
• Highlight architecture and design excellence, and not your fellow explorers including OHNY participants, volunteers, and guides.

• Entrants must be 18 years or older
• The entrant guarantees that (s)he is the copyright holder of the work
• In keeping with the guidelines of Wikimedia Commons, photos will be considered to be freely licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license, permitting free use for any purpose and the creation of derivative works.

By submitting a photo for the Wikimedia @ OHNY Weekend Photo Competition, you agree to all of the above rules and conditions.


WikimediaNYC: CommonsLab
Want to learn more about how these photos will be catalogued and used on Wikipedia articles? On Sunday, October 16 Wikimedia NYC will host a multimedia tutorial, workshop, and hackathon focused on Wikimedia Commons and the work processes for cultural multimedia wiki-projects. Stop by the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program at 721 Broadway, Manhattan, between 2 and 7:30pm to participate.


Questions about the competition? Email us at

Wikimedia NYC is an independent 501(c)3 organization that serves as the local Wikimedia chapter for New York City and the metropolitan area. As a community nonprofit, Wikimedia NYC welcomes educational and cultural partnerships with all local institutions interested in the further expansion and diversification of free knowledge.

Open House New York gratefully acknowledges the generous support of New York City Photo Safari for this year’s competition prizes.