Owen Foote leads a Gowanus Dredgers tour on the Gowanus Canal for the 246 anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn. ©Mark D Phillips

This year, OHNY celebrates 20 years of unlocking our city with an expanded mission to promote citywide access to all New Yorkers. In the spirit of being a more open, accessible, and inclusive organization, OHNY is doing its first-ever Open Call.

On October 21-23, 2022, the 20th Annual OHNY Weekend festival will take place, offering a mix of in-person experiences, self-guided explorations, and digital content for three days of education, exploration, and engagement. During the Weekend, hundreds of places—from single rooms, studios, factories, and public spaces to entire buildings, blocks, bike corridors, and waterways—open up across the five boroughs for tours, talks, and special programming.

Many of the places and experiences offered during OHNY Weekend are rarely accessible to the public. OHNY Weekend provides a special opportunity to peek behind the curtain, explore, and discover New York with fellow adventurers. The defining feature of OHNY Weekend is its breadth: OHNY Weekend ranks among the largest public design festivals in the nation.

Since its founding in the wake of 9/11, when much of the city was closed off due to increased security, the Weekend has provided access to thousands of places with architectural and cultural significance. It also provides an inside look at the city’s infrastructure and systems, both natural and constructed, to spotlight how nearly 9 million people live, work, and move across the five boroughs and beyond.

The full schedule has not yet been released, but mark these dates on your calendar. This is definitely a weekend that you want to be in New York City.

For me, I have already scheduled a trip to the Gowanus Canal for that weekend. The Gowanus Dredgers will “offer exploratory canoe voyages along the Gowanus Canal, in partnership with Open House New York, to view post-industrial buildings & abandoned shorelines, now colonized by wildlife and new developments” each of the days from 1pm to 6pm.

At the 19th St. launch site behind Home Depot & off of 3rd Avenue, Dredgers member Owen Foote, an architect and urban planner who has been advocating for Gowanus restoration and revitalization for over 25 years, will lead a discussion of appropriate vs unfortunate waterfront planning including what to embrace and what to avoid.

Hopefully, the EPA will join the celebration and open access to the entire waterway for the weekend. Cross your fingers.

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