Sunday, October 7, 2007

Open House New York

I have to admit something - even though I used to work at a newspaper, I don't really read the print versions anymore. I politely refuse the AMNYs and whatever other free paper is outstretched towards me at the subway entrance. I do read The New York Times on a daily basis but only the online version.

An unintended consequence is that I miss the events section a lot, and thus I hear about events too late sometimes. So on Friday when F asked me which Open House New York spots I was hitting, my reply was 'what the heck is Open House New York'? I thought it was something like the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program where the rich open their ridiculously huge and beautiful gardens to the public for 2-3 days per year. And as cool as it would be to see how the rich live in NYC, I think a mix of contempt and jealousy would get the best of me.

It turns out Open House New York is the weekend when buildings or areas of buildings that are not usually open to the public are revealed. This has to be one of the coolest ideas ever - I'd always wondered what the inside of the Chrysler Building is like, and how the heck you get to the walkways on the windows of Grand Central. There are events in all five boroughs and many don't require reservations although it is first come first serve. Some places had accompanying tours or podcasts - I was quite surprised by the sophistication of the program. I shouldn't have been though; this is New York City.

There had been a brochure in one of last week's New York Times, so I was late to the party as usual. It took me several clicks to actually find the programs themselves on the website and I was bummed to see that many of the tours were already booked. There were still plenty of events to go to though, so I made a short list of places I wanted to hit.

I really wanted to do the Chrysler Building tour because I love deco architecture. No one else in my group was interested, but we all wanted to see The Encampment on Roosevelt island. We decided to do our own thing for the afternoon and then meet up at the Roosevelt island tram.

I made it down in time for the 11 AM tour but it was full. So I spent some time bumming around the area and lined up early for the 2 PM tour. It was pretty interesting. The tourguide was Robert Klara and he had tons of good information about the building and the area. I still can't believe the building was built during the 1920s.

Later, I met back up with my posse at the Roosevelt Island tram. The exhibit opened at 7 so we grabbed some food and then rode over. I learned something new - even though the Queensboro bridge goes over Roosevelt Island, you can't access the island from the bridge. Weird.

It was a short walk to the exhibit. There were already some people walking around when we got there, including a group of idiot teens trying to scare people. Lame. With Halloween so close there was a bit of an eerie feeling and G said it reminded him of Lord of the Rings. Each tent had a different installation meant to reflect the people of the island and patients brought to the Smallpox hospital there.

Read the NYT article or see the slideshow

There were lots of kids running around too, which I thought was kind of funny. It helped lighten the mood a bit though. Plus, the city skyline was amazing. It never gets old. And with the recent humidity, the clouds added to the spookiness. Well worth the trip.

After the trip we went back to G's apartment and watched the Rockies/Phillies game. It was a mix of Mets and Yankees fans and we were all rooting for the Rockies. I used to live in Colorado and I have yet to meet an actual Rockies fan, but maybe their convincing sweep will help establish some. Coors Field used to sell out every season but when I lived there from 2000-2004 the field was usually about half full. Last night once again it was packed to the brim - cool sight. The stadium is really nice with great amenities - I almost wished I was there. And what a game! Now if only the Yankees could get their offense kickstarted...

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