2019 Guide to Open House New York

Open House New York Weekend is just over a week away, and with over 300 sites throwing open their doors, some careful planning is required to get the most out of it. We have created a brief thematic guide to some of our favorite sites around the city – especially ones along the waterfront – that you can explore Oct. 18–20.

Photo at dusk from rooftop of Brooklyn Navy Yard showing the dry dock, bring buildings and cranes.

Brooklyn Navy Yard

Not only will most of the 300-acre grounds of the Brooklyn Navy Yard be open on SATURDAY ONLY, but 46 different artists and manufacturers will also be taking part. We don’t want to single anyone out, but the open spaces will range from sprawling factories to cramped workshops to airy studios. Be sure to stop by the Food Manufacturing Hub at Building 77 for some lunch at Russ & Daughters and a beer at Transmitter Brewing (they’re also hosting Factory Friday tours, and there are still tickets left). You can also see some of the work of the participating businesses now on display in the BLDG 92 Yard Work Gallery in the show Kindred Constructs, on view through Nov. 2. Around the Yard, you can stop by the Naval Cemetery Landscape on the Williamsburg side ( Sat & Sun 10am–6pm), which will host free guided tours by architects Nelson Byrd Woltz and Pennington Grey on Sunday. And in Fort Greene Park, step into the crypt of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, commemorating the 11,500 lives lost in prison ships in the Wallabout Bay (Sat 11am–3pm).

The Yard will be open 10am–6pm on Saturday, Oct. 19. You can access the Yard through BLDG 92, Building 77, the Sands Street Gate, or via the NYC Ferry. For Saturday only, there will be a special shuttle running every 30 minutes from Fulton St and Lafayette Ave until 5pm (please note that there is no DUMBO shuttle on this day). After all the studios close their doors, be sure to get a ticket for the New Lab open house, kicking off at 6pm.

Photo of atrium of the Army Terminal showing concrete balconies and skylight

Brooklyn Army Terminal

Our first encounter with the Brooklyn Army Terminal was on OHNY Weekend 2012, and that began a seven-year journey through the history of this truly remarkable building that continues to this day. Always one of the most-visited sites of OHNY, the Army Terminal is also a supporting sponsor of the event this year, and it is marking the 100th anniversary of its construction in 1919. Many of the artists working in the 4-million-square-foot facility will also be taking part, including the non-profit art spaces ChaShaMa and ArtBuilt BrooklynWhen Artists Enter the Factories, a collection of works exploring the intersection of industry and art, will also be on display throughout the weekend.

The Brooklyn Army Terminal will be open Saturday and Sunday, 12pm–6pm, and it is accessible through the gate at 1st Ave and 58th St as well as by NYC Ferry. Our team at Turnstile Tours will also be leading free 45-minute guided tours of the Building B atrium on both days at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm, departing from the north lobby.

In addition to the artists at the Army Terminal and Navy Yard, there are other great artistic communities along the waterfront taking part in the weekend, including Snug Harbor’s resident studio artists (Sat 12–4pm) and many residents of the historic and dramatic Westbeth Artists Housing in the West Village (Sat & Sun 12–4pm).

Photo of Mary Whalen, tanker ship with black hull and red pilothouse

Historic Ships and Harbor Defense

OHNY Weekend is a great excuse to visit a place you’ve always meant to go it, even if it open the rest of the year. Three historic vessels welcome visitors year-round, but they’ll be rolling out the red carpet for the OHNY crows. In Red Hook, you can stop by both PortSide NewYork and their historic tanker Mary Whalen (Sat 1–6pm) and the Waterfront Museum, housed aboard the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge No. 79 (Sat 1–5pm). Over in Tribeca, step aboard the steam-powered Coast Guard Cutter Lilac (Sat & Sun 2–6pm).

This weekend you can also start checking off the four pairs of harbor defense forts that protected the entrances to New York Harbor. Fort Wadsworth’s Battery Weed on Staten Island (Sun 10am–3pm), Fort Totten in Bayside (Sat & Sun 12–4pm), and Fort Tilden in the Rockaways (Sat 10am–3pm) will be taking part. You’ll have to find another time to visit (and look up) the other five. Both Fort Tilden and Battery Weed will be offering free guided tours throughout the day.

Inside recycling facility showing green machinery on multiple levels inside a large warehouse building.

City Infrastructure

OHNY isn’t just about going behind the scenes of places to make your Instagram followers jealous; it’s about educating New Yorkers about how this great city works, and there are several sites vital to city’s infrastructure taking part. In recent years, New York City has started composting our organic household waste, which is processed by the Department of Sanitation in Travis, Staten Island (Sun 10am–2pm). If you can’t make it all the way out their to see how compost is made, you can visit the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s much smaller facility in East River Park (Sat 10am–2pm). Their E-Waste Warehouse and recycling facility in Gowanus will also be open access (Sat 10am–4pm, Sun 12–6pm). And if you’re in Sunset Park, stop by the city’s largest recycling facility, the Sims Material Recovery Facility (Sat 10am–2pm).

Close-up photo of microgreens growing in a tray in a greenhouse

Urban Agriculture

In 2019, the Brooklyn Grange unveiled its third rooftop farm, and all three will be part of Open House New York – but be aware of the different times and levels of access. The O.G. farm, in Long Island City, will be open on Saturday only, 10am–4pm, while the newest and largest farm, in Sunset Park, will be accessible on Sunday, 11am–4pm. Meanwhile, the mama bear farm, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is accessible by guided tour only, and unfortunately, those tickets are long since sold out. If rooftop greenery is your thing, be sure to check out the Kingsland Wildflowers in Greenpoint (Sat 12–4pm), or if you’re more interested in the agriculture aspects, Square Roots, which grows food hydroponically inside shipping containers in Bed-Stuy, still has a few slots left for their guided tours on Saturday.


Turnstile Tours offers several tours that highlight New York’s waterfront, past and present, including tours of the Brooklyn Navy YardBrooklyn Army Terminal, and DUMBO with the Brooklyn Historical Society. We also offer guided boat cruises with Classic Harbor Line  about the military and industrial history of the harbor.