Bob Baker
OHNY Participant & Supporter
Lives in Swampscott, MA

1. Are you a native New Yorker? If not, when and why did you move here? I’m a wannabe New Yorker. I grew up in Binghamton, NY and always found it exciting as a kid to see the train in my town coming or going to New York.  I also had a New York Times Sunday route and listened to WNEW Radio to follow news from the city. My first time in New York was when I was a freshman in college. Now as an adult, we come to the city often to go to the theater. I try to be as deeply involved as possible without actually living in the city.

2. Do you have a favorite place/neighborhood in the city? I don’t have a favorite neighborhood really. What I love is learning about a neighborhood so that next time I am there, I feel a sense of familiarity.

3. What does OHNY mean to you? OHNY brings buildings to life. When you walk through New York, all the buildings can look huge and impersonal. But when you see the spaces with OHNY you are introduced to the history and purpose of each building. The buildings then come alive. One of the greats is, of course, the Woolworth Building. I took a tour with OHNY and now I see the Woolworth Building and feel a strong connection to it.

4. Why is OHNY important to New York City? OHNY makes New Yorkers more aware of their surroundings and it makes visitors more enthusiastic about the city. When I come here for OHNY Weekend, I stay in a hotel and eat out, so it also stimulates the economy. It helps make New York City attractive and exciting for people. It makes me more eager to come back and see again the spaces I’ve learned about. It’s such a unique experience.

5. How and when did you first learn about OHNY? I’ve been coming for seven years or so. I believe I first heard about it through the Open House London website.

6. What has been your favorite OHNY site or program? The tour of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square is my favorite so far. Everyone stays in hotels or has been to a banquet. This was an opportunity to get a very behind-the-scenes tour. You don’t often get to do that, especially at a hotel. It was nothing like the normal tours led by their PR person. This tour discussed the meetings with Bill Marriott to create the hotel and the history of Times Square as a very gritty place back in the day. Mickey Steinberg of Portman Holdings and the hotel staff answered all types of questions. It was a great tour!

7. If OHNY could grant you a New York City all-access pass, where would you go first? I am interested in the way the city works and infrastructure so I would visit someplace mechanical like the dispatch center of the MTA–the type of place that, for security reasons, you can’t get into these days. You used to be able to walk into places like that, but today’s very different.

8. Who is your favorite architect/designer/artist in the city? I don’t have a favorite. It’s not really the way I look at the city. I like knowing about different architects and connecting them with their work when I visit spaces, but it’s not something I keep track of.

9. It goes without saying that we all love New York City. What do you find most inspiring about the city? What I find most inspiring is the collective energy of such disparate groups of people. New York is the epicenter of all these different cultures and somehow they all live together. And, they manage to get something done! And, you can’t find a place that makes a sandwich faster than in New York City! When you try telling the guy what you want on your sandwich, it’s already wrapped and ready to go. There is just so much energy.

10. In one sentence, why should people support OHNY? It’s a small organization that does so much! You know your money is going to be used very directly and efficiently for such a great event and then you know you’ve done your share.

Thanks, Bob!

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