For NYC gadders, this may be the "the" weekend of the year, with the unfortunately simultaenous immersion of the tenth annual Open House New York Weekend, one of the most eagerly awaited events of the gadding calendar, and a NYC-based What's Out There Weekend presented by the DC-based Cultural Landscape Foundation. The only thing more remarkable than the quality of the offerings is the fact that they're free!
OHNY functions year-round, but to urbanly aware New Yorkers when you say "Open House New York" thoughts turn automatically to "the" weekend, now upon us. Here's the official description:
To celebrate the city’s architecture and design, the 10th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend will once again unlock the city, allowing New Yorkers and tourists alike free access hundreds of sites talks, tours, performances and family activities in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. From private residences and historic landmarks, to hard hat tours and sustainable skyscrapers, OHNY gives you rare access into the extraordinary architecture that defines New York City, while introducing you to the people who make the city a vibrant and sustainable place to live, work, and play.You have to look at the actual listings to appreciate their staggering range -- in both subject matter and geography. (Start with a map view here.) There are over 200 events, and last year combing through the listings I came up with something like 40 tours I would have happily done.
It gets a little crazy because the actual listings aren't released till two to three weeks before the weekend, and there are always a couple of dozen events you know everyone will be trying to register for, providing frustrated would-be registrants with anecdotes to last them through to next year's festivities. Still, that leaves an awful lot of events still looking for takers, and my guess is that even now you can find lots of really interesting tours you can still do. (Of course some of the most interesting ones are offbeat enough to attract smaller crowds.)
This year my life was simplified by the much earlier announcement of the schedule for What's Out There Weekend NYC. I was so delighted by the offerings that I booked myself solid. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether I can actually survive the whole program.
However, I still plan to look carefully through the OHNY Weekend listings, which always contain suggestions of places that may be visitable -- usually be advance reservation -- at other times of the year.
WHAT'S OUT THERE WEEKEND NYC
The D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation is new to me. Here's how it describes its mission:
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) provides people with the ability to see, understand, evaluate and appreciate landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many people have learned to do with buildings and architects. Through its web site, lectures, outreach and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide.I found out all of that after I saw the listings for its What's Out There Weekend in New York (which I wrote about at the end of August), even though I did dimly recall that the dates were the same as OHNY Weekend.
Explore and discover NYC’sRecommendations are required, but here may still be a bunch of events you can register for. You'll find listings here (and a schedule pdf here), and then you can register here.
landscape marvels with free tours
in all five boroughs, featuring some of the nation’s most innovative landscapes spanning two centuries of design. Experience the great civic spaces of Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park, Bob Zion’s original “vest pocket park” at Manhattan’s Paley Park; Wave Hill’s majestic views of the Hudson River from the Bronx, and the unique urban design of Sunnyside Gardens in Queens. Many are places people pass daily, but do we know their background stories? What’s Out There Weekend promises to shed new light on familiar places.
What’s Out There Weekend dovetails with TCLF’s Web-based What’s Out There, the nation’s most comprehensive, free, online database of designed landscapes. The database offers a broad and interconnected way to discover the breadth of America’s landscape heritage, while What’s Out There Weekend gives people the opportunity to experience the landscapes they might see every day in a new way.
I'm thinking I stumbled onto TCLF and WOTW when the fall Municipal Art Society tour listings were announced, because originally two of the fall MAS tours were scheduled to be "in partnership with the Cultural Landscape Foundation": one on Saturday morning of Grand Army Plaza, at the main entrance to Brooklyn's Prospect Park, led by Matt Postal; and one on Sunday morning of "St. George: Staten Island's Developing Waterfront," led by "life-long Staten Islander Georgia Trivizas . . . inspired by the overlooked tour guides she's met through her travels -- native taxi and bus drivers"). Early on, however, the Staten Island walk was converted to a regular MAS tour, and I went ahead and registered for it.
Meanwhile I registered for five WOTW walks -- four on Saturday, starting with Matt's Grand Army Plaza one, followed by two in succession in Prospect Park (the Long Meadow and Ravine at 11am, and Lakeside at 1pm), then hauling off to the opposite end of the city, Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park; and one on Sunday, a tour of Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, which I should have more than enough time to get to upon my return from Staten Island. (It wasn't planned, but I realized when the dust settled that over the two days I'll be doing tours in four of the five NYC boroughs -- all of them except Manhattan!)
CATCHING UP WITH JUSTIN FERATE
I've written about some of the amazing tours I've done with the tirelessly engaging and informative Justin Ferate, going back to my first: a daylong trek to Tottenville, at the southern tip of Staten Island. Since then there have been destinations like Jamaica National Wildlife Refuge in Jamaica Bay, northern Manhattan's Morris-Jumel Mansion and Audubon Terrace complex, and the Mark Twain House in West Hartford, Connecticut -- and, most recently, an amazing bus tour to the Usonia Homes in the vicinity of Pleasantville, New York (in more or less central Westchester County), a planned community developed beginning in the late 1940s which took on a whole other dimension when the founders succeeded in enlisting Frank Lloyd Wright to oversee the layout of and design principles of the future development (in addition to designing three homes himself, one of which we got to see).
I may have been remiss in not mentioning the Usonia tour as soon as it was announced. Then again, it sold out pretty quickly.
I know it's kind of late notice, but tomorrow (Saturday) at 1pm Justin is leading a tour for Wolfe Walkers:
Landmarks of Early African-American New YorkJustin has other Wolfe Walkers tours (which he coordinates) coming up:
Few are aware of the role of African Americans in the history of Lower Manhattan. Even fewer are aware that in 1612, a freeman of African and Portuguese descent, Joao “Jan” Rodrigues, became the first non-native settler on the island of Manhattan. In 1626, the later Dutch settlers brought Africans to New Amsterdam as slaves. By 1711, roughly 1/6 of New York’s residents were black – most enslaved and some free. During the tour, we’ll visit such noted sites as New York’s slave market, the site of the slave revolt of 1712, the notorious “Five Points” district, Abolitionist-related sites, the New York African Free School, the site of African Society for Mutual Relief and the site of Freedom’s Journal, the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the nation.
In addition, from the 1690s until the 1790s, both free and enslaved Africans were interred in a burial ground in Lower Manhattan, beyond the boundaries of New Amsterdam. Built over by development, the cemetery was officially “rediscovered” in 1991. Our tour will include a visit to the new African Burial Ground Memorial – dedicated to those who are buried in this hallowed ground.
During the tour, we’ll encounter such people as Joseph François Mangin, designer of New York’s City Hall and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint – a candidate for Roman Catholic sainthood. We’ll address and visit noted religious sites associated with the black community: John Street Methodist Church, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Mother AME Zion, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church. We’ll also discover overlooked heroes and heroines. Learn of Elizabeth Jennings who, in 1854, successfully sued to eliminate racial discrimination for New York’s public transit. Discover Dr. James McCune Smith, the first licensed African American doctor in the country. Learn of the New York connections for Frederick Douglass, the most famous African American of the 19th century – often called the “father of the Civil Rights movement.”
Date: Saturday, October 6, 2012 Time: 1:00 PM to approximately 4:00 PM Meet: SE Corner of Broadway at Chambers Street at north end of City Hall Park Trains: 2 or 3 Train to Park Place || A or C to Chambers Street
R Train to City Hall || 4, 5, or 6 Train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall Leader: Justin Ferate, Urban Historian
Fee: $ 20 in advance (Includes all Admissions) $ 23 on-site (By check to Hermine Watterson) (Includes all Admissions)
* Museum of Chinese in America, Chinatown Walk + Dim Sum Luncheon
Saturday, October 13, 10:30am to approximately 2:30pm, limited to 25 participants
$40 in advance ($45 onsite, if available)
* for Halloween: The Ghosts of Greenwich Village
Saturday, October 27, 1pm to approximately 4pm
$20 in advance, $23 onsite
* Discover the Creation of Freshkills Park! (ferry and bus tour)
Saturday, November 10, 9:15am to approximately 12:30pm, limited to 23 participants
$20 in advance (no onsite registrations)
* The Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park
Sunday, December 2, 9:45am to approximately 12:30pm
Registration is by mail, not online. You can download a PDF of the fall brochure or of just the registration form.
Justin's website, Tours of the City with Justin Ferate, is an inexhaustible resource in its own right, and you definitely want to sign up for his mailing list, which brings a rich stream of event announcements and pass-alongs that Justin deems of possible interest. I always look carefully at his e-mails, and am always happy when I can squeeze an event into my schedule -- this is almost all stuff that I wouldn't have found out about otherwise, like the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy's daring venture into my own neighborhood, Washington Heights, for a new tour called "Frankfurt on the Hudson," which drew a huge amount of interest. (I saw Justin there, and he explained that for some time he had thought about undertaking a similar tour but just hadn't gotten to it.) Just this evening there was an e-mail from Justin about the upcoming New York Archivists Week, October 7-13. I still have to go through those listings!
DON'T FORGET JACK EICHENBAUM'S "DAY ON THE J"
It's coming up in two weeks. Remember, he hasn't offered it in eight years. Do you want to take a chance on having to wait till the next time?
A Day on the J
Sunday, October 21, 10am-5:30pm
This series of six walks and connecting rides is astride the colonial route between Brooklyn and Queens. We focus on what the J train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service (in part) in 1888. Walks take place in Highland Park, Richmond Hill, downtown Jamaica, Bushwick, South Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side. Tour fee is $39 and you need to preregister by check to Jack Eichenbaum, 36-20 Bowne St. #6C, Flushing, NY 11354 (include name, phone and email address) The full day’s program, registration coupon and other info is available by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The tour is limited to 25 people. Don’t get left out!