Making Brooklyn your home means more than just stepping over puddles of pee and playing spot the rat for five consecutive years. You should form a bond with it that allows you to spout off interesting or inane facts about its buildings and neighborhoods at a moment’s notice, especially if you’re showing off for visiting friends or relatives. But this is a community and you can’t, and shouldn’t, do it alone. Fortunately, openhousenewyork, an organization dedicated to teaching people about New York’s architectural and design history, is having its 10th Open House New York Weekend. The weekend is devoted to tours and taks all over the city, including some right here in Kings County. After the jump we have our picks for the best free tours and events you can find all weekend.
Some of the more in-demand sites that are part of the weekend, like the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and the New York Transit Museum required reservation, which closed yesterday, but also cost $5 a person. Visiting these sites will allow you to go at your leisure AND will be free, which is what a good weekend is all about.
1. BAM Peter Jay Sharp Opera House: Who needs a gross rusty space egg when you’ve got a world-renowned opera house just around the corner. Take a tour and gawk at the architecture you usually don’t get to when you’re gawking at the stage. Tours run from 11am to 1pm on Saturday.
2. Brooklyn Army Terminal: This NYC landmark was the largest military supply base in the country through World War 2 and has now been reinvented as a center for light industrial business. As a bonus, the New York Waterway Ferry will be running free service between the Terminal and Wall Street, so you can finally ride it if you haven’t had the chance. Tours run from 11am to 5pm on Saturday.
3. The City Reliquary Museum: You’ve noticed that weird little building whenever you walked down Metropolitan Avenue on a Friday night, so why not take a tour and see the New York artifacts and community collections are contained inside it? Tours run at 10am, 12, 2, and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
4. Hendrick I. Lott House: A house that amazingly dates back to the 1700s, it also allows you to have more Brooklyn pride as you learn more about a spot that may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Open from 11am to 3pm on Saturday.
5. Old Stone House: A reconstruction of a house that was first constructed in 1699, the house sits on the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, as well as being the club house for Brooklyn Superbas, who would later go on to become known as the Dodgers. You may have heard of them? It hosts the Kings County Fiber Festival on Saturday, and is open for tours between 9am and 5pm both Saturday and Sunday.
6. Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument: A reminder that somehow, prison used to suck even more than it does now, there used to prison ships. Which would sink, as ships are wont to do, taking 11,500 lives with them. Learn about the monument and efforts to preserve it between 11am and 3pm on Saturday.
7. The Red Hook Winery: Located on a pier, the winery is an example of using New York’s old spaces for modern business. The winery produces 70 different types of wines from locally sourced grapes, which you can sample, provided you’re of age. It’s open from 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Afterwards, be sure to go down to Erie Basin Park (behind IKEA) and check out the Dance on the Greenway, between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday.
8. Runner & Stone: One of the more unique design marvels in the city, some of the walls of this restaurant and residential apartment building are made up of concrete and re-purposed flour sacks. The building architect will be leading tours every half-hour between 3pm and 5pm on Saturday and 10am and 1pm on Sunday.
9. St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church: There are a few options for seeing churches in Brooklyn, but only one of them has oldest set of North American figural stained-glass windows and a landmark Peabody Memorial Organ dating back to 1925. That would be this church. Saturday window tours are at 12, 2 and 4pm, Saturday organ concerts are at 11am, 1 and 3pm. The Sunday window tour is at 3pm and the organ concerts at 2 and 4 pm.
10. Brooklyn Navy Yard Arts Open Studios: The Navy Yard has been transformed from gritty also-ran to thriving art space. Check out the PDF of participating studios and take a relaxed, self-guided tour Saturday and Sunday between 12pm and 5pm.
There are other sights to see all over the city, check out Open House New York’s website for all the details.