Open House New York kicks off weekend of free tours

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A reception on Friday night at The Centurion, an I.M. Pei building, will launch the 8th annual Open House New York, the largest architecture and design event in the US, taking place this weekend, October 9-10.

Tours of 350 sites and buildings across New York City that are normally closed to the public open up for viewing, guided walks and workshops, including landmarks like Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building lobby, special residences and artists' studios.

Access is free of charge but purchased passes take you to the front of the lines. With 200,000 visitors, the ticket is worthwhile and a donation.

Inspired by Open House events in London and Dublin, the idea has spread to cities and countries including Melbourne, Australia, Toronto, Canada, and Tel Aviv's version, Houses From Within.

Some highlights this year include a look inside Wave Hill, the former summer home of author Mark Twain and President Theodore Roosevelt in the Bronx, Louis Armstrong's former home museum in Queens, and the Angels and Accordions performance/walking tour of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.