Photo by Beowulf Sheehan courtesy the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

Today at 11 AM, Open House New York reservations begin for the annual weekend on October 12-14th. There are 266 participating sites this year, with 123 requiring reservations. Here are our picks for the must-visit reservation only sites – get ready to hit the refresh button on your browsers!

We’re also announcing our annual giveaway for two OHNY Weekend Passports, a VIP pin that gives the wearer and a guest front-of-the line admittance to Open Access sites, which are free-of-charge and do not require advanced reservation. The giveaway is spearheaded by Untapped Cities, with participating partners Brooklyn Based and 6sqft. There are numerous ways to enter the contest (see our Rafflecopter embed below). You can win entries by interacting with us by signing up for our and our partners ‘ email lists, follow us on Twitter, and Tweeting about the giveaway.
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1. Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Clocktower Tour

Step inside one of New York’s last remaining Gilded Age treasures. Completed in 1875, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church predates the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral (1878) and Plaza Hotel (1907). The stunning ceiling of this Victorian Gothic masterwork rises six stories above the floor. The 1,800-seat Sanctuary contains no iconography (in keeping with early Presbyterian austerity) and no right angles; the curvature of the balcony and pews draws all eyes to the impressive pulpit.

On this tour, Derek Maddalena, director of facilities, will escort you into the Sanctuary attic, six stories above the main floor, where you will get an up-close view of the church’s distinctive, “building within a building” architecture. From the attic you will climb into the clock tower, where the original, 19th-century clockworks (recently restored) are still in use. This is one of only two tower clocks by E. Howard & Co. of Boston still in operation in New York City.

Reservation link here.

2. Cultural Services of the French Embassy

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan courtesy the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

One of the few remaining buildings of the Gilded Age, the Payne Whitney Mansion was commissioned in 1902 by Oliver Hazard Payne for his nephew Payne Whitney on the occasion of Payne Whitney’s marriage to Helen Hay. Stanford White, of the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White designed the mansion in the style of an Italian High Renaissance palazzo. White was assassinated by a jealous husband before construction was completed in 1909, making this one of his final projects. In 1970, it was deemed an official landmark of the City of New York. With a grand entrance hall and stairway and ornate marble reception halls, the mansion transports visitors to another epoch.

France has owned the mansion since 1952 and today it is home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Bookstore. Albertine features a stunning interior design by one of France’s most celebrated modern architects, Jacques Garcia. It holds over 14,000 titles from 30 French-speaking countries. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promote the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US.

In 2018, the Venetian Room, a reception room off the main lobby and one of architect Stanford White’s last creations, was renovated. After four months of renovation, the room is once again open to the public.

Reservation link here.

3. Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

A tour to the top of the Digester Eggs! Located in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint community, Newtown Creek is the largest of NYC’s 14 wastewater treatment plants. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection teamed up with world-class architects, designers, and engineers, along with the Newtown Creek community, to expand and redesign the plant while keeping it fully operational. Ennead Architects served as lead architect and master planner, working with lighting artiste Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire International. The New York City Art Commissioner honored Newtown Creek with two Awards for Excellence in Design for addressing the challenge of locating and expanding a large-scale industrial project within a residential neighborhood.

The plant’s most dramatic element is its eight futuristic, stainless steel-clad digester eggs visible by day and night from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Expansion also included the Newtown Creek Waterfront Nature Walk, providing the first public access to the Newtown Creek waterfront in decades, and the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, an indoor destination where school groups and the public can learn how the city’s sewer system works and about the watershed that provides New York City’s celebrated drinking water.

Reservation link here.

4. Brooklyn Navy Yard Building 77

Tour Building 77, the largest structure on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s 300-acre waterfront campus, with architects from Beyer Blinder Belle and Marvel Architects. Originally built in 1942 as a warehouse for the United States Navy’s operations during WWII, a top-to-bottom rehabilitation has transformed the building into a 21st-century commercial and light industrial hub, with a ground floor marketplace. Tour will include access to upper-floor raw spaces that feature spectacular NYC views.

Reopened in 2017, Building 77 is a modern production center in the Brooklyn Navy Yard located on Flushing Avenue between the DUMBO, Williamsburg and Fort Greene neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Reservation link here.

5. Cathedral of St. John the Divine Vertical Tour

Photo by Bhushan Mondkar for Untapped Cities

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is an active house of worship, arts, cultural, and civic center, as well as a feat of human engineering. Despite incomplete construction, it is the largest cathedral in the world, which features Byzantine-Romanesque and neo-Gothic architecture. The church sits on a 12-acre Close with explorable gardens, other historic buildings and resident peacocks.

On this adventurous, “behind-the-scenes” tour, climb more than 124 feet through spiral staircases to the top of the world’s largest cathedral. Learn stories through stained glass windows and sculpture and study the grand architecture of the Cathedral while standing on a buttress. The tour culminates on the roof with a sweeping view of Manhattan. Tour participants must be 12 years old or older.

Reservation link here.

6. Crye Precision

Photo by Aaron Thompson courtesy Open House New York

Visit the headquarters for Crye Precision LLC, a company that designs and manufactures state-of-the-art protective equipment destined for use by the most elite members of the US military. The company’s facilities are housed within nationally-landmarked Building 128 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Originally built in 1902, the 225,000 square foot steel, glass, and masonry building was for decades home to a Navy ship engine factory.

The adaptive re-use of Building 128 emphasizes its cathedral-like proportions, powerful structure, and massive scale through a design sensibility that quietly extends the details of the original structure in unexpected ways. Upon first glance, where the old building ends and the new structures begin is not clear. The only hint that something radically new has happened is a 10,000 square foot prehistoric forest that welcomes guests at the building entry.

See how design studios, testing areas, production spaces, exhibition and conference zones, cafeterias—and even a space for tai chi—merge seamlessly into the historic structure, right along Brooklyn’s developing waterfront. Part of New York City’s growing manufacturing sector, the chance to see behind-the-scenes of this innovative and industry-leading company’s headquarters is an opportunity to learn about part of the city’s fascinating future.

Reservation link here.

7. 3 World Trade Center

3 World Trade Center, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers, is the second tallest building on the World Trade Center site, and the fifth tallest in New York City. Developed by Silverstein Properties, this 2.5 million-square-foot, 1,079-foot tall tower is the latest and most advanced in a series of high-tech, sustainable and high-profile buildings to rise in Lower Manhattan. 3 World Trade Center is a model of transparency and sustainability. The tower consists of a reinforced concrete core with steel structure outside the core, and it is clad in an external structural steel frame. The building features floor to ceiling glass; all four corners, and each floor plate, of the tower are column-free to create an open workspace environment–key for cutting-edge companies in brainpower-driven businesses like technology, advertising and branding, as well as law and financial service firms. 3 World Trade Center is a LEED-certified Gold office tower.

Reservation link here.

8. Town Hall

The Town Hall in 2018, via Cindy Byram

Historic Town Hall was built in 1921 by the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White under the auspices of The League for Political Education to educate women on political issues, who–with the ratification of the 19th amendment–had just won the right to vote. Beyond providing a platform for important lectures and debates, Town Hall, with its exemplary acoustics and exceptional sight lines, also became the venue of choice for debut recitalists in New York City. Since then, “The People’s Hall” has staged world-class performances in cabaret, dance, music, opera, and theatre, as well as hosted some of the most legendary artistic, cultural, and political figures. Each year Town Hall welcomes more than 200,000 guests

Taking full advantage of the beautiful landmark building and its excellent acoustics and sight lines, each year The Town Hall’s Presenting Season encompasses a lively mix of diverse programs, producing a minimum of 28 concerts designed to appeal to a diverse audience of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.

The Town Hall’s mission is to provide affordable world-class entertainment by new and established artists to a diverse audience; inspire the youth of our community to appreciate and participate in the arts at The Town Hall and in schools through our Educational Outreach Program; and preserve and enhance The Town Hall as a historic landmark venue for the enjoyment and cultural enrichment of generations to come.

Reservation link here.

9. Edward Hopper Studio

Step back in time and view this eminent American painter’s studio, complete with his original easel, desk, furnace, and kitchenette, among other authentic artifacts. The 19th-century structures NYU Silver calls home are located directly on historic Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and have a distinguished history in New York City, housing a succession of mayors, artists, poets, architects, and writers. One of the most noteworthy tenants was American artist Edward Hopper, who lived and painted on the fourth floor of 3 Washington Square North from 1913-1967.

Hopper used the south end of the space, overlooking Washington Square Park, and his wife Jo used the north space, although Hopper often painted watercolors on the roof of the building. The scenes from his garret window provided him with much source material for his memorable urban paintings of New York City. After a prolonged hospital stay in 1967, Hopper insisted on going home to his studio where he died peacefully on May 15 at the age of 85.

Reservation link here.

10. 150 Rivington

Designed and constructed by GLUCK+, this new condominium development is under construction on the former site of Streit’s Matzo Factory in the heart of the Lower East Side. Learn more about the technical innovation behind the “curtain wall” façade which captures the rhythm and energy of this eclectic neighborhood. Balancing exposure and intimacy, hard and soft, flat and undulating, the façade employs lightweight custom-cast fiber composite panels to introduce a “curtain on the outside.”

Reservation link here.

Enter our annual giveaway for two OHNY Weekend Passports, a VIP pin that gives the wearer and a guest front-of-the line admittance to Open Access sites, which are free-of-charge and do not require advanced reservation. The giveaway is spearheaded by Untapped Cities, with participating partners Brooklyn Based and 6sqft. There are numerous ways to enter the contest (see our Rafflecopter embed below). You can win entries by interacting with us by signing up for our and our partners ‘ email lists, follow us on Twitter, and Tweeting about the giveaway. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Text for this article adapted from the Open House New York website.