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OHNY opens up city's best architectural sights

Inspired by similar architectural tours in his hometown, Londoner Scott Lauer started openhousenewyork (OHNY) in 2002 with roughly 80 sites sprinkled throughout the city. The weekend-long event, this year taking place Saturday, Oct. 15 and Sunday, Oct. 16, has exploded to include almost 200 spaces in all five boroughs, 150 additional programs and almost 200,000 visitors.

"People now ask, 'When is OHNY happening?' rather than, 'What is OHNY?'" reported board president Margaret Sullivan. Some of her Downtown favorites include the Eldridge Street Synagogue and 123 Baxter, which includes an automated garage-an elevator for your vehicle.

While almost all of the events and tours are free, a point in which the organization takes great pride, sites and programs that require a reservation will now charge a $5 fee. If you are unable to attend this weekend's festivities, check the recently launched OHNY website for their year-round events, happening monthly.

Of the ninth annual open house weekend, Sullivan said, "Enjoy, have fun and discover the hidden gems in the city that you may walk past every day. You appreciate your city the more you know it." Top picks for the weekend are listed below.

Lower East Side
Henry Street Settlement (ca. 1832)

265 Henry St., Saturday, Oct. 15, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Three federal row houses have been occupied by the Henry Street Settlement organization since it was founded in 1893. The buildings feature a restored dining room, the site of one of New York City's first playgrounds and rooms where the first visiting nurses in the area lived.

Eldridge Street Synagogue (ca. 1887)

12 Eldridge St., Sunday, Oct. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Founded by Eastern European immigrants, this National Historic Landmark has been restored to its original grandeur. The building is an exuberant combination of Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque styles, featuring hand-painted decorations and Victorian-era lighting. Stunning stained glass includes a new window by artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans.

Nolitan Hotel (ca. 2011)

30 Kenmare St., Sat., Oct. 15 and Sun., Oct. 16, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

A 55-room boutique hotel features a ground-floor glass lobby. Guest rooms have either private balconies or floor-to-ceiling windows with unobstructed views of the skyline.

East Village
New York Marble Cemetery

4 ½ 2nd Ave., Sat., Oct 15 and Sun., Oct. 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Not to be confused with the nearby New York City Marble Cemetery, this resting place is hidden down a private alley in the interior of the block and is one of the city's oldest nonsectarian burial grounds. The half-acre garden contains 156 family-owned underground vaults. There are no markers on the grass, only plaques on the walls indicating the family name and vault location.

NYC DOT Bike Tour

Astor Place near The Cube, Sun., Oct. 16, 9:30 a.m. RSVP required.

Join Department of Transportation Urban Art Program staff for a bike ride to various public art sites around the city. The ride will begin in Manhattan and end in Brooklyn. Bring a bike and a helmet.

Financial District
99 John Deco Lofts (ca. 1933)

99 John St., Sat., Oct 15 and Sun., Oct. 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

This Depression-era building was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, the architects behind the Empire State Building. The resemblance is clear, from the classic limestone and granite façade to the tiered setbacks on higher floors. Today, John Deco Lofts is home to 442 condos.

For a full list of the apartments, buildings and programs featured during the OHNY weekend or to make a reservation on a particular tour, visit

The Nolitan is a 55-room newly opened hotel in Nolita - on Kenmare Street to be exact - that includes floor-to-ceiling windows and a rooftop garden. Photo courtesy of OHNY

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