Public Works: Five Borough Scavenger Hunt

Think: public spaces trivia meets New York City Marathon meets urbanist adventure.

Calling all NYC trivia buffs and urban adventurers! Share your love of our great city in a friendly competition exploring award-winning public design in all five boroughs.

New York City’s streets, parks, libraries, and civic buildings are places where all New Yorkers come together, facilitating the social connections that create community and anchor neighborhoods. They also serve as art galleries, recreation centers, and spaces of respite, while providing education and the best people-watching in the world.

Join OHNY and the NYC Public Design Commission for a two-day citywide scavenger hunt featuring outstanding public spaces. Drawing from 40 years of projects honored with the PDC’s Awards for Excellence in Design, scavenger hunt participants will race to decipher more than 60 clues that will bring them to sculptures, plazas, playgrounds, and buildings—some well-known, some obscure—and find a new appreciation for these vital public spaces.

Key Dates

Registration deadline: Wednesday, July 5

Clues released: Friday, July 7, 10:00am

Clue submission deadline: Saturday, July 8, 11:59pm


How to Register

Compete as an individual or as a team—note team size is limited to 10 people. Only ONE person per team should register. This person will be designated as the team captain.

To encourage broad and equitable participation in the hunt, registration fees will be waived for anyone with a library card. Individuals with a library card can sign up and be matched by OHNY with other library patrons to form a team. If you sign up as an individual, you will not only compete for free, but can also make new friends as you explore the city’s remarkable public places.


How to register for free

  1. Select Join-A-Team: Local Library Branch at registration, and indicate your local library branch. OHNY will create teams of 1-10 based on other patrons who have signed up and connect you with your teammates in the days before the hunt.
  2. After we put you in contact with your team, designate a team mascot—make your own or pick an object that will be pictured in all the photos you submit for points.

How to register with a team of your choosing

  1. Teams must register in advance by the Registration Deadline of July 5. Play solo or in teams of up to 10.
  2. You will need to provide your team members’ names prior to the event. Please have your names collected by July 5. We will include how to register your team members’ names in the follow-up instructions.
  3. Each team must designate a team captain who is responsible for confirming team details prior to the event.
  4. Before July 7, designate a team mascot—make your own or pick an object that will be pictured in all the photos you submit for points.


How to play

  1. Decipher clues. On Friday July 7 at 10:00am, more than 60 clues will be emailed to teams that hint at award-winning public spaces across the five boroughs. Each clue will include a clue number, the borough where it is located, and the number of points if answered correctly. Clues are worth different points depending on their difficulty and distance from each other. You do not need to decipher every clue or visit every location. The goal is to decipher and visit as many locations as you can over the course of the hunt. No points will be earned for deciphering a clue alone; you must also visit and photograph your team and mascot in front of the building or structure.
  2. Take photos of clues around the city. From 10:00am on Friday July 7 to 11:59 pm on Saturday July 8, race to the clue locations, taking photos in front of the building, artwork, or location hinted at. You won’t need to go inside any buildings; just a photo of your mascot and team in front of the identifiable location works! Teams can walk, run, take public transportation, and use bikes or cars to get around during the hunt. Teams that do not use cars (personal vehicles, taxis, or rideshare) will receive a green energy points bonus!
  3. Submit clues. Teams must submit their clue photos using the clue submission form by 11:59pm on July 8 for scoring. Clues submitted after July 8 will not be scored. Each clue should be uploaded to the form with the team name, clue number, answer, and accompanying photo.
  4. Share your journey. Post your scavenger hunt pictures on social media with the hashtag #publicworksohny and tag us at @openhousenewyork on Facebook and Instagram and @ohny on Twitter, and our partner, NYC Public Design Commission (@nycpublicdesign). We will be reposting your photos throughout the event!



The top three winning teams will be notified the evening of Sunday, July 9, and publicly announced on Open House New York’s newsletter and social media the following Monday. We will also award prizes for best team name and best mascot, so choose creatively!

The first place team will receive:

  1. Admission to an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of City Hall given as part of the 2023 OHNY Weekend on October 20-22.
  2. Complimentary invites to the OHNY Weekend Launch Party (location to be announced) ($150 value per person)
  3. Complimentary tickets to OHNY’s upcoming Sunset Boat Tour with of the Port of New York, date TBD ($45 value per person)
  4. Complimentary OHNY membership or a 1-year OHNY membership extension for existing Members ($60 value per person)
  5. OHNY swag (tote bags and pins)


This event is presented in partnership with the Public Design Commission (PDC), New York City’s design review agency. The PDC has jurisdiction over permanent structures, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. The mission of the PDC is to advocate for innovative, sustainable, and equitable design of public spaces and civic structures, with a goal of improving the public realm and therefore related services for all New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.

Made possible by support from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation.


Registration Fees—Registration is now closed. 

Registration fees are according to team size as follows:

  1. Local Library Patrons (1-10 individuals): FREE
  2. 1-3 individuals: $45
  3. 4-6 individuals: $75
  4. 6-10 individuals: $150