Archive for March, 2010

Gangsters: Birth of Organized Crime in America Tour Recap

In collaboration with the Lower East Side History Project, OHNY recently offered a unique walking tour covering 150 years of crime and vice in NYC. The two tours– one on Sunday, March 7 and the other this past Sunday, March 28– were led by Eric Ferrara, Executive Director of the Lower East Side History Project and the East Village Visitors Center and author of A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City’s Lower East Side.

Starting on the Bowery, Eric led us through his neighborhood and told us about the history of organized crime in the area, tracing back to immigrants from Sicily. Eric utilized photos, newspaper articles and New York City history to help tell the stories of many of the most powerful and infamous New York City criminals. Some highlights included learning about the tactic of Black Handing, the legacy of McGurk’s Suicide Hall, and countless deals, betrayals, shootouts and assassination attempts.

We followed the history of several of the major crime families and individuals who led them. As we walked passed the site of many of these incidents, what was once a headquarters, cafe or speakeasy is now become a high end hair salon, contemporary condo or four-star hotel. As Eric pointed out throughout the tour, gentrification has completely altered the LES and changed the landscape where these events once took place.

Eric, talking to the group

This is a great tour– very colorful– and it gives you a glimpse into what life might have been like in the Lower East Side during that time. It did not seem like there were many options! For more information on these tours, please see their website.


Field Trip Friday: The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Our intern, Jin, spent her spring break in Germany where she encountered some fascinating architecture. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is located in the city of Stuttgart, the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. In the 1960’s, the municipal government held a city planning competition that included a new wing to the Alte Staatsgalerie in order to house the collection that had outgrown its facilities. James Stirling’s plan for the Neue Staatsgalerie was chosen as the winning design. His design focused on creating a seamless connection between the older building and the public plaza, where visitors can enjoy the warm sunlight while looking out to the rest of the city, with a view of the Renaissance architecture of the Schlossplatz.

View from the north

Public plaza

Although the museum is a modern building, the chunky blocks recall Neo-Classical architecture. Bright colors accentuate the earth-colored building while signifying the functions of each structure. While walking around the structure, Jin saw forms of Classical architecture that are modified to be playful follies. (See the rather chubby columns below!)


Lobby and gift shop

The Lobby has bright green flooring and white ceiling with shafts of light. The pattern of the green floor is reminiscent of Legos, working harmoniously with the rest of the interior. Curved walls and bright lights lead you into their collection, comprising of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque period artworks that are displayed in this new wing. Appropriately, even the ticket booth resembles a Classical building with the circular columns, as the image shows above!

Thank You & Silent Auction Continues

Thank you to everyone who attended our Benefit at the Academy of Arts & Letters last night. Special thanks to our Benefit Partner, Polshek Partnership Architects, and our honoree, Richard Meier. The evening was a success and we appreciate your continued support and dedication to openhousenewyork!

The silent auction continues online until March 30 at 5pm. In addition to the works you saw on view last night, many more art works and tours are available online and several new pieces have been added. Every bid helps support OHNY.

(Image courtesy of Edgar Almaguer.)

OHNY’s Silent Auction Online Now

Support OHNY through our silent auction, now available online. Bid on works by contemporary artists and designers as well as private tours of several New York iconic landmarks. Every bid helps support our cause!

OHNY iPad Raffle sponsored by Valiant Technology

OHNY iPad Raffle sponsored by Valiant Technology

Support openhousenewyork and make the most of the upcoming 8th Annual OHNY Weekend, October 9 & 10, 2010 with a newly released Apple iPad!

To participate in the raffle, donate $20 or more for the chance to win an Apple 16GB iPad (WiFi only). The raffle begins today, March 18, 2010 and concludes on April 1 at 12pm. The winner will be notified on Monday, April 5. All proceeds will go to support openhousenewyork‘s signature event, the 2010 OHNY Weekend.

Click Here to Donate and Win!

Contest open to legal U.S. residents ages 18 or over.
Contestants are not limited by the amount of entries, each entry of minimum of $20.00 will qualify.

Employees of openhousenewyork and Valiant Technology inc. are not eligible.

iPad offer does not include a 3G plan.

If you have any questions, please contact or call 212.991.6470.

Field Trip Friday: Brooklyn’s ClockTower

OHNY visited the truly spectacular ClockTower, a three-story, 6,800 square foot penthouse located at One Main Street in DUMBO this week. Listed at $25 million, the spacious apartment features four 14-foot- high workings clocks, offering picturesque views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the New York Harbor.

Originally built in 1914 by Robert Gair, the Clocktower building was called Building No. 7 back in the day and was one location among many that was part of Gair’s cardboard manufacturing company. At the time of its construction, it was the largest concrete cast building in the United States. David Walentas bought No. 7 in the 1980’s and converted the old industrial building into 124 condominiums.  The ClockTower penthouse went on the market in October 2009.


At the core of the triplex tower is a private glass-walled elevator and wrap-around floating staircase, resembling the inner workings of a clock. The elevator emphasizes the height of the penthouse.


The ultra sleek kitchen, designed by Stefano Venier at Minimal, features a 24 ft. long island, blending into the modern living and entertaining quarters.


The bedrooms and the master bathroom reveal the angles of the tower and feature custom windows, all with extraordinary views. The window in the northwest bedroom on the 17th perfectly frames the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building together with the Brooklyn Bridge.


At the top of the tower is an exposed crow’s nest where the views, to say the least, are breathtaking.

View of the Brooklyn Bridge

1 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY

FDR’s Funeral Train: a slide lecture and presentation by historian Robert Klara

Historian and author Robert Klara will present on one of the most overlooked events in American 20th-century history: the mysterious journey of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral train.

Klara, who provides the popular talks in the lobby of the Chrysler Building during the Annual OHNY Weekend, is the author of the soon to be released FDR’s Funeral Train: A Betrayed Widow, A Soviet Spy, and a Presidency in the Balance – a groundbreaking, inside look at the top-secret train that carried FDR’s body a thousand miles from Warm Springs, Georgia to Hyde Park, New York, in the spring of 1945.

Drawing from the declassified Secret Service documents and long-lost passenger diaries he used in his research, Klara will focus on the most dangerous leg of the train’s journey: the 28 circuitous miles through NYC plotted by the Secret Service to keep the train – filled with 140 of the most powerful men of the US government – out of public view.

Books will be available for purchase at the talk.

A special thanks to ?What If! The Innovation Company for hosting this talk.

Purchase tickets here.