Brooklyn Boro

Open House New York: Our top 10 picks

October 1, 2019 Scott Enman
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From design studios and distilleries to rooftop farms and wastewater treatment plants, residents will once again have the opportunity to tour some of the city’s most exclusive monuments, landmarks and architectural gems later this month at Open House New York.

With more than 275 sites across the city, and 60 in Brooklyn alone, attendees will have access to spaces that are normally closed or limited to the public during the rest of the year. Think of it like urban exploration — without the fear of getting caught.

The annual event takes place Oct. 19-20. Visitors can learn from architects, historians and preservationists about some of the borough’s oldest and newest structures, like the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s archives or the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park.

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“Open House New York Weekend is a celebration of architecture, but it is equally a celebration of an open city,” said Gregory Wessner, executive director of the weekend-long event. “Openness to new people, new ideas and new ways of living is what sustains New York as the greatest city in the world.

“But openness is something that has to be nurtured and protected, and that is what Open House New York Weekend helps to do.”

With so many great places to explore, the Brooklyn Eagle selected 10 must-see sites.

1. Weekend Launch Party

25 Kent. Photo courtesy of 25 Kent

Properly kick off the start of Open House New York at 25 Kent, a new eight-story, 500,000-square-foot commercial office building designed by Hollwich Kushner in collaboration with Gensler. It’s the first of its kind built in North Williamsburg in more than 40 years and was the former home of the Beyond the Streets graffiti exhibit. There will be drinks, food, entertainment and, of course, panoramic views of the East River.

Thursday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at 25 Kent Ave. More info here.

2. BAM Hamm Archives

BAM Hamm Archives. Photo by Louie Fleck

The Brooklyn Academy of Music had its first show in 1861. Since then, it’s become a cultural staple of the borough. Get a rare sneak peak inside BAM’s Hamm Archives to discover pictures, videos and documents that chronicle the institution’s more than 150 years of history.

Saturday, Oct. 19, at 1000 Dean St. Tours start at 10 and 11 a.m. More info here

3. Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility

Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. Photo courtesy of NYCDEP

The largest of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants (and definitely the trendiest looking one, for better or worse) will be opening its doors on Saturday to adventurous residents looking to learn how the city’s sewer system works. Attendees will also be able to explore the top of the Newtown Creek treatment plant’s eight alien-like stainless steel digester eggs, designed by Ennead Architects in 2009.

Saturday, Oct. 19, at 329 Greenpoint Ave. Tours start at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. More info here

4. Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

The readers for Whitman in Canoes on the Gowanus at Dawn arrive at the Carroll Street Bridge. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The Gowanus Canal Dredgers. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Tour Brooklyn’s other federal Superfund site with the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. Started in 1999, the group brings daring denizens up close and personal with the toxic 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal. In addition to tours, the group also hosts Walt Whitman readings and they routinely monitor a colony of oysters that they introduced to the waterway with the help of the Billion Oyster Project.

Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20, from 2 to 6 p.m. at 165 2nd St. More info here

5. Plymouth Church

Plymouth Church’s sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Plymouth Church

Tour Plymouth Church, a National Historic Landmark where Henry Ward Beecher famously preached from the pulpit. The church drew Abraham Lincoln to its pews and was known as the “Grand Central Depot” of the Underground Railroad.

Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20, at 12:30 p.m. at 57 Orange St. More info here

6. Brooklyn Grange Farms

The Brooklyn Grange in the Brooklyn Navy Yard uses its green roof for urban agriculture. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Grange
Brooklyn Grange’s Navy Yard location. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Grange

Tour one or both of Brooklyn Grange’s two rooftop farms, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and in Sunset Park. The Sunset Park farm, which opened in August, is New York City’s largest rooftop farm at 140,000-square-foot. See fresh tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers grow, while also learning about how these farms offer a “Swiss-army knife” of environmental benefits for the Big Apple.

Sunset Park: Open Sunday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 850 3rd Ave. More info here
Brooklyn Navy Yard: Tours start at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. 63 Flushing Ave. More info here

7. Floyd Bennett Field Control Tower Tour

Floyd Bennett Field Control Tower. Photo courtesy of Floyd Bennett Field.

Tour Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport, and the first in the country built with concrete runways. Attendees will receive a tour of the museum, which tells the story of the airfield, as well as a sneak peek inside the tunnels underneath the runways — normally not open to the public — where airport employees moved passengers’ luggage to their planes.

Finish the day inside the airport’s restored control tower, which is also generally not open to the public. Craving more aviation history? Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of hangers filled with historic aircraft.

Sunday, Oct. 20. Tours start at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. More info here

8. Prison Ship Martyrs Monument

Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. Photo by Emma Stoll

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was built in 1908 to honor the thousands of men, women and children who died aboard British prison ships during the Revolutionary War. On Saturday, visitors can step inside this historic monument and learn about the park, the war and those who passed away.

Saturday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Washington Park Street, Fort Greene Park. More info here

9. Kings County Distillery

Kings County Distillery. Photo courtesy of Kings County Distillery

Taste moonshine and whiskey and tour the oldest operating distillery in the city — and the first since prohibition — located inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Kings County Distillery, which opened in 2010, won Distillery of the Year in 2016 from the American Distilling Institute.

Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20, at 299 Sands St. Tours every 20 minutes from 1 to 4 p.m. More info here

10. The Evergreens Cemetery

The Evergreens Cemetery. Photo by Yuri Pires Tavares

Many know of Green-Wood Cemetery, but fewer are perhaps aware of Brooklyn’s other massive graveyard, the 225-acre Evergreens Cemetery in Bushwick. Take a guided tour of beautiful mausoleums and grave markers and go inside the receiving vault, which is normally closed to the public.

Saturday, Oct. 19, from 1 to 3 p.m. at 1629 Bushwick Ave. More info here

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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