Open House New York promotes broad, unparalleled access to the city—to the places, people, projects, systems, and ideas that define New York and its future. Through our year-round programming, including the annual OHNY Weekend festival, OHNY offers a citywide platform for education, exploration, and engagement about the connections between quality of place and quality of life for all New Yorkers.
As OHNY turns 20, we are introducing new programs that unlock the places and stories behind the New York experience and expanding our ongoing investigation of the city’s infrastructure and systems, both natural and constructed, to address aspects of equity, race, ethnicity, and the climate crisis. The aim of our work is to ensure every New Yorker can enjoy full access to the greatest city in the world.
Since its founding in the wake of 9/11, when much of the city was closed off due to increased security, OHNY has advocated for openness as a defining principle of civic life. Offering an insider’s look at the forces that shape the city, OHNY promotes a deeper understanding of how the city functions and whom it serves. The theory of change guiding our work is that an informed public fosters greater civic participation, which in turn catalyzes an open city.
Open House New York was founded by architect Scott Lauer in 2001 to engage New Yorkers in the city’s architecture, public space, and the future of urban life.
With the help of a dedicated board and volunteers, OHNY became an important platform for celebrating New York at a critical moment in its history. Following the events of September 11, when much of the city was closing itself off through increased security measures, OHNY offered a countervailing force, one that advocated for openness and access as key components of an enlightened and vibrant civic life.
The inaugural Open House New York Weekend was held in 2003 as part of the city’s first Architecture Week. With the help of 300 volunteers, that event included 84 sites in all five boroughs.
Since the inaugural year, the event has grown exponentially, increasing its outreach and audience participation; the number of sites, talks and tours; and developing additional thematic and interpretive programming. OHNY Weekend now includes more than 275 participating sites and offering 1,300 tours with an estimated 85,000 visitors and more than 1,400 registered volunteers.
We believe openness is a New York value.
Open House New York has always stood for openness, accessibility and civic dialogue—the same values that make our democracy work. In 2020, OHNY began the hard work of examining the realities of New York and more purposely advocating for a truly open city—one where streets, libraries, parks and other democratizing places are safe and accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of skin color, religion, sexuality, or other marker of difference.
Our embrace of an open city is as much about people as it is place. As we continue our work to broaden and deepen an understanding and appreciation of the richness of diversity and experiences that define our city, we are also developing initiatives that prioritize equity and inclusion.
From Athens to Zurich, nearly 50 cities around the world host Open House celebrations.
In 2019, almost 1 million people participated in Open House events with nearly 2 million visits to buildings enabled by more than 18,000 volunteers. Taken together, Open House Worldwide is the largest celebration of the urban landscape in the world. The network was founded and is administered by Open City, a charity registered in the United Kingdom. Learn more about Open House Worldwide.