Barry Lewis’ “live” tour of this website
(requires Flash 8 Player Click Here to Get Flash.)

Barry Lewis is available for lectures, conferences, seminars and other types of speaking engagements.

Possible lecture topics
Past speaking engagements

The Avant/Garde Diaries

Barry Lewis - The Jefferson Market Courthouse

Barry Lewis fell in love with architecture in 1960s France. When he returned to New York, Lewis found a similarly rich, if less celebrated, history in that city’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. For The Avant/Garde Diaries, Lewis takes us on a jaunty tour of the famed Jefferson Market Courthouse, a “punk” building for its time daring to expose its structure of unadorned red and black brick. Back in the 1870s, he says, that was a shocker: as if a woman left the house without her dress, showing off her “underclothes”. The “Jefferson”, Greenwich Village’s branch library since 1967, was part of a pioneering generation that lay down the principle of today’s design: form follows material.

Produced by Kitty Bolhoefer / Filmed by Fridolin Schoepper / Editing by Konterfei / Music by Carlos Bruck

BBC Radio 4 “The Map That Made Manhattan”, Simon Hollis producer
Aired originally, September, 2014. 30 minutes long.

Londoner Simon Hollis, who lived in New York for several years, discusses the Manhattan grid street system and how it affects the way we New Yorkers look at our city. Only a foreigner could have been so conscious that "Meet me at 27th and 2nd" is a pure New Yorkism. I'm one of the interviewees and in fact have the "last word" (thank you, Simon).

Direct link for listening:

Upcoming events for the public:

The City Transformed, Part Two, Spring 2016 / New York from the 1890s to Today
Wednesdays, March 23rd to May 11th, 6:30pm-8:00pm at Cooper Union 8 lectures.

The Cooper Union switchboard, 1-212-353-4195, is open Mon-Fri 10:30am-5:30pm.

Registration for Spring 2016 Continuing Education classes is accessed thru the Cooper Union Continuing Ed link

When America became a world power in the 1890s, New York became de facto a world capital. Only it didn’t look it. In the following century the city would re-build itself—constantly—creating the distinctive and ever changing skyline that identifies it today. The Beaux-Arts, Art Deco, Art Moderne, mid-century Modern, post-Modernism and today’s #Modernism have re-shaped the city faster than the software and digital devices that run our current lives. We are going to look at each era, especially the long-neglected first half of the 20th century, and see how New York gave itself an only-in-New York skyline symbolizing a city that was open to all.

For a detailed course curriculum, click here

New-York Historical Society, “Modernism”
Tuesday March 22, 2016, 6:30pm

Today Mid-Century Modern is all the rage, bringing back the classic designs of the 1950s like the Seagram Building and Lever House. But that era had its roots in the 1920s when a daring young generation of designers including Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld and Eileen Gray shook up establishment design. We’ll look at both New York’s classics of the 1950s and 60s and the original 1920s works that inspired them.

Direct link:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Central Park”
Thursday, March 24, 2016 6pm

Central Park civilized New York. Built beginning in 1858, it gave all New Yorkers, whatever their class, their own "private country estate" where they could leave the city behind and commune with nature. Designed as a complete artifice-it is naturalistic, not natural-it turned the democratic ideal into a brilliant three-dimensional concept of city planning as well as a transcendental vision that would civilize urban life.

Direct link:

New-York Historical Society, “Paris”

Tuesday April 12th, 2016, 6:30pm

Paris taught the world how to make a city “livable”. In the 17th century Parisians created the “boulevard” for strolling, and the harmonious “Place des Voges” for living. By the 19th century, along with Napoleon III’s controversial re-building plans, and the city’s exponential growth due to industrialization, the French also harnessed the new technology of iron and glass construction to create great libraries, an iconic tower—the Eiffel—and exposition buildings—the Grand & Petit Palais—that brought both style and function to the new scale of the modern world. Paris is not only justly famous as the “City of Light”; it’s equally célébré as the “City of Life”

Direct link: 

New-York Historical Society, “The Village”

Thursday May 12th, 2016, 6:30pm

New York’s first Bohemian neighborhood was Greenwich Village in the 1910s. In that decade everyone from Edna St. Vincent Millay to John Sloan made “the Village” their hangout. It became so hip that by the 1920s the Bohemian era was over, due to rising rents and new luxury apartment buildings. Then, in the 1930s, with Fascism on the rise and repressive politics ruling the day the “Village” got its mojo back with a new generation taking up the Village’s mantra of non-conformism.

Direct link: