Photograph Courtesy of  via Open House New York

This year, Open House New York invites the public to explore more than 150 sites across New York City, that do not require advance reservations. These Open Access Sites are open to anyone who is curious to see what’s inside. If you want front of the line access to these sites during the weekend, you can enter to win a free VIP Passport from Untapped Cities! We’ve hand picked a few of our favorite sites that are opening their doors this year, from a glittering Art Deco lobby, to a quaint cottage in the park.

1. Fort Totten Visitor Center & Water Battery

This park, located along the Cross Island Parkway off Totten Avenue between Totten and 15th Roads in the Queens neighborhood of Bay Terrace, is named for the modernized Civil War fortress in which it resides. Originally inhabited by the Matinecock Indians, the neighborhood of Bayside was first settled during the American Revolution. This site was first named Willets Point, but later renamed for General Joseph Totten (1788-1864) who died in Washington, D.C. in 1864. Plans were initially prepared by Captain Robert E. Lee in 1857, and construction of the fortification began in 1862. Built across the East River from its counterpart, Fort Schuyler, Fort Totten was initially charged with defending the eastern approach to New York Harbor.

Soon after its completion, however, with the rapid advances made in fortification design by battlefield engineers and commanders fighting the Civil War in the South, Fort Totten became obsolete as a defensive structure and its facilities were remanded to the position of casualty support and hospital care (1864-1965). After the war, the fort housed the Engineer School of Application (1865-1901), Eastern Artillery District Headquarters (ca.1901), Electric Mines and Army School of Submarine Defense (1921), a prototype anti-aircraft installation (1922), the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Headquarters (1941-1944), and the North Atlantic Wing of the Air Tran.

The site will be open on Saturday, October 19th from 12:00PM to 4:00PM and Sunday, October 20th from 12:00PM to 4:00PM. The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible. However, in order to access the Water Battery by wheelchair, please sign in at the Visitor Center and staff will open the entrance on Shore Road for access.