Open House New York
Hop on an established or a brand-new tour of some of the city's most innovative spaces.
Tue Oct 11 2011
Photograph: David Plakke
Austrian Cultural Forum
Austrian Cultural Forum
Austrian Cultural Forum (11 E 52nd St at Fifth Ave; Sat 15 10am--6pm; tours every 20 minutes or by request; maximum 12 people per group)
What you'll see: This 24-story building designed by Austrian-born NYC architect Raimund Abraham stuffs plenty into its tiny 25-by-81-foot lot. Guests will tour the economical employee offices on the seventh through tenth floors, as well as the 11th-floor loft space used for receptions that looks south over St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Fun fact: Space is at such a premium, the grand piano for the 1,100-square-foot theater—another stop on the tour—is stored above a trap door and must be lowered onto the stage before performances.
New York City Marble Cemetery (52--74 E 2nd St between First and Second Aves; Sat 15, Sun 16 11am--5pm)
What you'll see: The ancient Egyptians weren't alone in taking prized possessions with them to the grave—so did many of the 19th-century figures buried in this plot's 258 underground vaults. The cemetery will show off relics such as old bullets, tiny dolls and marbles from the 1800s that were found on the grounds, alongside information on those interred there.
Fun fact: Fifth President James Monroe, who died in 1831, was among the first people buried at the cemetery and still is the most famous person to be laid to rest there. However, 27 years after his funeral, the Virginia legislature successfully campaigned to exhume its native son and intern his body in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
St. George Theatre (35 Hyatt St at St. Marks Pl, Staten Island; Sat 15 10am--1pm; lobby access only, tour at noon)
What you'll see: The modest facade of this 82-year-old movie house hides an ornate Spanish and Italian Baroque--style interior. Paintings of bullfighters, stained-glass chandeliers and tiled indoor fountains made this venue the most glamorous theater in the city south of New York Harbor when it was built. It has since undergone several renovations, including a complete revamping of its sound and rigging systems in 2004.
Fun fact: The theater was initially built as a vaudeville showcase and movie house to rival the glitzy theaters in Times Square. Even with its velvet seats, gilded balconies, and modern heating and cooling system, admission in 1929 was only 75 cents.
Temple Emanu-El (1 E 65th St at Fifth Ave; Sun 16 10am--5pm; tours at noon, 2pm)
What you'll see: Guides from the temple will take visitors through the 1920s modern-Romanesque-style space, which architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle painstakingly restored between 2004 and 2006. The house of worship, which is one of the largest synagogues in the world, is known for its mosaics designed by Art Deco artist Hildreth Meire. She later created the plaques outside of Radio City Music Hall.
Fun fact: Beyer Blinder Belle, no strangers to big projects, also helped renovate Ellis Island in the late '80s and Grand Central Terminal in the 1990s.
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