#4 Ellen Ryan

VP, Strategic Partnerships Brooklyn Bridge Park, OHNY site committee member & site sponsor
Lives in the Park Slope, Brooklyn

What is your relationship to New York City? I love it madly and have been privileged to work as an urban planner and advocate on matters of neighborhoods, open space and mixed use living.

How and when did you learn about OHNY? I remember coming across the printed guide and thinking the idea was genius.  Revealing the city’s secrets and inner sanctums, connecting the curious with the curators.  I had to get involved!

So far, what has been your favorite OHNY site and/or program? Weeksville.  I was a site volunteer there in 2008.  Amazing vestige of an important community and fascinating story about how it was re-discovered.  The dance program at Floyd Bennett Field was also very memorable.  Do I show a Brooklyn bias? (We won’t mention to Ellen that both interviewers are from Queens.)

If you could gain access to any site in New York that you wanted, what would that site be? OK, two sites, one above, one below.  The art deco observation deck of 70 Pine Street in Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage on the Brooklyn side.

As it’s the holiday season, what is your favorite holiday spot in New York? I’d say any brownstone neighborhood where lights glint from trees in parlor floor windows.

What is the best-kept secret about New York City? That seeing it by boat can be the most illuminating way to grasp the city’s four hundred years of growth.

What sites do you have on your “to do” list for the 2012 OHNY Weekend? I have a lot of Lower Manhattan and Dumbo locations on my mind.  The construction site of the Calatrava Path Station at the World Trade Center site and the new Pier 15 on the East River. In Dumbo, I’d like to see Etsy’s nerve center and then go check out the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard’s new visitor center at BLDG 92.

If you could plan it, how would you celebrate OHNY’s Tenth Anniversary?  If I had an unlimited budget, I’d establish a pop-up “open house” in each of the boroughs designed by a great architect, and invite people to get a preview of the weekend sites from these houses.  After the weekend, OHNY could donate them to community gardens or parks as concessions, information booths or follies.

What is the thing you love most about OHNY? The thing that binds the staff, board and volunteers together is an abiding love for the City of New York and a joyful fervor to expose its charms, both new and old, to annual tides of the adventurous residents and visitors!

Why do you give to OHNY? Because the organization and the annual weekend re-awaken visitors’ New York City senses.  Because OHNY enriches our collective love of New York and connects people to the very institutions and places that define a great city.

Thanks for sharing, Ellen!

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