Open House NY

Columbus Day weekend and we thought we were going to Boston. Cancelled.
That’s the bad news. The good news-another Open House New York weekend is here in New York. Ohny.org. I stumbled on an Open House New York brochure several years ago at the Flushing Library and we have been availing ourselves to its charms ever since. We’ve been to performance dance pieces in cemeteries and airline hangers, looked at green houses on the East River and appreciated the Art Deco architecture of the buildings at Jacob Riis Park. This year the brochure exploded with more than 300 listings and apparently many, many others have discovered Open House New York Weekend. By the time we realized we weren’t going to Boston many of the reservation only events had filled.

But there were still many great things to see.

First stop- Build It Green-17 26th Ave/ 4th St 162 Queens Astoria NY 11102 Astoria. If you can imagine a Home Depot filled with used and overstocked material, perhaps that’s what Build It Green would look like. Why anyone would buy a used toilet beats me. Yet it had its charms. If I was one of those designers from the fix my house on the cheap reality tv shows there might be some great finds there. If I could imagine how one could fit a claw footed bathtub into my house or if I wanted an ancient stove ala Rachel Ray’s then that Build it Green might just be the place to go.

Onto the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The sky was overcast and the northern winds whipped around the conglomeration of restored and deteriorating buildings that lined the acreage along the river. We watched the barge cross towers like gigantic Japanese swords. Eric chatted with the security guards recounting his days working on subway cars in one of the building while the guards asked if he could recall the days the trolley cars rolled around on steel tracks that were still evident. No longer the ship building force from the days New York City garnered power from being a port city, it now houses studios from a variety of artists. So we wandered from studio to studio appreciating the

sculptures and paintings from the most recent occupants of the Navy Yard and munched on olives and crackers provided by the artists.

We left the Navy Yard and took a detour through 18th century Poland. As we followed the service road of the BQE we passed scores of men wearing knee length knickers, silk stockings and large fur hats. The Hasidim were leaving the shuls after the Sabbath Service.

Over the Williamsburg Bridge and a slow crawl through Greenwich Village and we were looking for parking around 10th Avenue and 18th Street. The weather seemed to correlate with the venue. The skies were now bright blue and we joined many other New Yorkers who were taking advantage of the fall day to stroll down New York’s newest park. We strolled over the 10th Avenue surrounded by wild flowers (well theoretically- wild flowers) and watched the sunlight sparkle off the Hudson. Eric picked out a lecture that he wanted to hear at 6:30 which gave us time to jump uptown.

We left the car parked and took the trains to Lexington and 59th street. We arrive at the Paul Rudolph house 246 E 58th St/ 2nd Ave 121 Manhattan New York NY 10022 Upper East Side. Julia had called as we walked down 58th from Lex and said she was already inside. So when we were locked out at 4:30 because it was already closed we were confused. But we were let in and we did get to spend the next half hour touring the house while its current resident explained how Rudolph designed the house and used cardboard mock ups to confirm how the various designs of interior décor would work.

Then back on the train with Julia and Suzy this time and back to the high line for the presentation of how the high line was lit. Dinner at a Mexican Restaurant and home to sleep in our own beds

Sunday

Staten Island today- and Tibet. The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art 246 E 58th St/ 2nd Ave 121 Manhattan New York NY 10022 Upper East Side is a 45 minute ride from our home, but when we got there it was like being on another continent. I was unable to talk us onto the 1:30 tour but the family behind us did. So we joined the others outside and followed the curator through the terraced gardens of the complex. Sarah Johnson explained to us how an American woman, not a French man as the name suggests, recreated a Tibetan Monastery carved into the hillside of Staten Island. This women, a precocious child actress who through twists and turns in her personal life managed to amass a

collection of Tibetan artwork before the Chinese took over Tibet and destroyed the culture all the while recreating a monastery literally rock by rock in a remote corner of New York City.

We rode a bit down the road and had lunch at a picnic table in a quiet old Richmondtown Village

a collection of various old buildings from different eras where we had little company as we wandered around. We watched a woodworker demonstrate the woodworking capabilities of treadle lathe, examined a two room stone cottage and peeked into the window of the oldest still standing one room school house in the United States.

We ended our Staten Island tour in a small park next to a marina located, our map told us, on the Upper Narrows Bay. A ride up Hylan Avenue past every chain store in American and we were back to the

Verrazano Bridge and the New York City we recognized.

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