An open house is held — all over the city. It's all part of an annual event, giving people an inside look at some of New York's most fascinating buildings. Tara Lynn Wagner takes us on a tour.
When Painter Stephen Hall first heard about Westbeth Artist Housing he put his name on the wait list.
"Fifteen years later I got a call saying come look at an apartment," Hall said.
But the folks in this crowd didn't need to wait quite that long for a peek inside the landmarked building. It's one of about 275 sites that participated in this year's Open House New York Weekend.
"It's always been on my radar but i never got to see it," said Barry Schulman, from the Upper West Side.
Barry Schulman and his wife look forward to this annual event that opens doors normally closed to the public, allowing even native New Yorkers who think they've seen it all a chance to see something new.
"Every year we try to see you know 6, 8, 10 — as many as we can get into a weekend," Schulman said.
"I think all of us walk around the city every day and have the feeling of I wish I could go inside that building," said Gregory Wessner, executive director of Open House New York. "That's what we are trying to do is grant that wish."
Westbeth is a popular stop. The former Bell Telephone research lab and manufacturing hub, was converted into artist studios in 1970. Twenty percent of the residents have been here since day one.
The tour takes visitors from the street to the rooftop, stopping here in the former executive office, which still has some of the original features from 100 years ago.
"All the mosaic tile in the lobby, the decorative wood around the doors, and magnificent views of the Hudson," said George Cominski, president of the Westbeth Artists Residence Council.
Another interesting detail throughout the building — the waved ceiling, built by Bell to hold more weight. In addition to the tour, several artists also open their studios to the public. It's a chance for them to showcase their work and illustrate the importance of having affordable housing for artists.
"You cannot afford artists' studios in Manhattan anymore," Cominskie said. "But having these big open spaces where they can both live and work it makes all the difference.
"I had an accountant in here yesterday who said she sits at her desk all day and to come and do this is feeding her soul," said artist Stephen Hall. "How wonderful is that. That's my job done."
The open house event started in London in 1992 and came to New York in 2003. For more information, visit Open House New York's website.