Don’t miss this rare chance to visit some of the city’s coolest secret spots.
The annual Open House New York tour gives the curious a chance to peek behind the curtains of some of the city’s secret spaces. For one day a year the general public can stroll through the East Village’s New York Marble Cemetery, get an eyeful at the Department of Transportation’s Traffic Management Center, head up the tower of the Jefferson Public Library, or tour the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens.
This year, Open House New York takes place on October 17-18, and the full list of sites offers an impressive array of locations. Whether you take a special tour of the High Line with co-founder Joshua David, peek inside Paul Rudolph's Modulightor townhouse on the Upper East Side, check out the recently restored Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, or explore what used to be the world’s most expensive airport, Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia Airport , it’s hard to go wrong when peering behind New York’s closed doors.
Most of the sites are open access, meaning anyone who’s interested can stop by for a look, but some spots do require reservations and tours can fill up quickly. You can make reservations here.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are seven must-see places you can visit during Open House New York:
1. The landmark Bryant Park Hotel
In 2001, British architect David Chipperfield transformed the former American Radiator Company building (built by architects John Howells and Raymond Hood) into the Bryant Park Hotel. Get an insider tour of the building, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Edgar Allan Poe's cottage
Horror master Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life, from 1846 to 1849, in this small wooden farmhouse in the Bronx. Built around 1812, the cottage is restored to its original appearance, with authentic period furnishings, including—in appropriately ghoulish fashion—the bed where Poe’s wife passed away.
3. Google's Chelsea office space
See what it’s like to work at Google without going to the trouble of getting a computer engineering degree.
4. Bike New York’s Coastal Resiliency Tour
Led by professor Alexandros Washburn, who was the chief urban designer of New York City under Mayor Bloomberg, this tour serves as a reminder that New York is a coastal town. Bike past working waterfronts and public parks, and learn how the city has weathered hurricanes and how it’s preparing for the next big storm.
5. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine: Vertical Tour
This tour will take intrepid stair-masters behind the scenes of the world’s largest cathedral. Strap on your FitBit and climb more than 124 feet through spiral staircases to the Cathedral’s roof, where you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view of Manhattan.
6. Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia Airport
The Marine Air Terminal used to be the gateway to Europe, and sent many a wealthy traveler off in style. The structure is known for its Art Deco feel, and its mural depicting the history of flight.
7. TWA Flight Center
And, of course, there's JFK Airport's iconic TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by Finnish-American starchitect Eero Saarinen. The space, a swoopy 1962 exemplar of the era's Jetsons-style futurism, is about to be totally rehabilitated on its way to becoming a hotel, so this may be the last time the public will see it in its original glory: red carpeting, ghoulish sweeping staircases, and all.