#1 Mark Gardner

principal, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects, long-time OHNY volunteer
Lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

What is your relationship to New York City? I lived in New York City as a teenager in Staten Island with my brother. My great aunt also lived here and I spent practically every Thanksgiving until age 12 or 13 in New York. We would go to the Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. When did you officially move here? In 2000, after grad school in Philadelphia. I love it here.

How and when did you learn about OHNY? I became a volunteer because a friend of Scott Lauer (the founder of OHNY) got me involved. He said they needed volunteers for this city event. What year was that? I would say 2003 or 2004. I think the first place I worked at was a house, it was a strange private home in Chelsea. Another early site I volunteered at was Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, not many people came so the cemetery caretaker took me on a private tour. I didn’t realize that all these jazz greats were buried there.

So far, what has been your favorite OHNY site and/or program? Grand Army Plaza because I live near there now and I see it often. That’s one, and the other one is Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I think I have this weird fixation with cemeteries, I just realized. All these Italian immigrants came. They were amazing artisans. The stone work in the mausoleums and the carvings are just “wow!”

If you could gain access to any site in New York that you wanted, what would that site be? The top of the Chrysler Building. Why? Because it’s a beautiful art deco space, isn’t there a ballroom up there, the Cloud Club, which is now closed. Also, I would love to see the hidden City Hall subway station.

As it’s the holiday season, what is your favorite holiday spot in New York? Fifth Avenue, all of the shop windows. The tree at Rockefeller Center lets me know that it’s the holidays. And also, the New York Public Library, when they put the wreaths on the lions.

What is the best-kept secret about New York City? How nice the people are, that New Yorkers have heart, if people didn’t know that already.

What sites do you have on your “to do” list for the 2012 OHNY Weekend? I want to see the TWA Flight Center, if it is opened up again. I didn’t get to go this past OHNY Weekend. I would love to see it.

If you could plan it, how would you celebrate OHNY’s Tenth Anniversary? I would throw OHNY a big party in the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center- a top hat and flapper party!

What is the thing you love most about OHNY? That it is so much about the city, about seeing different parts of the city, about getting outside your neighborhood and seeing how your fellow New Yorkers live.

Why do you give to OHNY? Because I love it

Thanks for sharing with us, Mark!

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