Barry Lewis’ “live” tour of this website
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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. Admittedly, one would be hard pressed not fall in love with the architecture of that famed city, in any decade or century. But when he returned to New York, Lewis found a similarly rich, if less celebrated, history in that city’s Greenwhich Village neighborhood. For The Avant/Garde Diaries, Lewis takes us on a jaunty tour of the famed Jefferson Market Courthouse, a striking building known for exposing its structure of unadorned bright red brick. Back in the 1870s, he says, that was a shocker. It laid down the principle of today’s design: treat your materials with respect.

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

Upcoming events for the public:

CHANNEL H2 “United Stuff of America: Ultimate Engineering”
Tuesday, July 12, 2014, 10:00pm on Channel H2 (History Channel’s offspring)

Talking Head: interviewed about New York’s 1883 Brooklyn Bridge and Chicago’s 1885 Home Insurance Building—the “first” skyscraper.

Scroll down to 3rd listing, “Ultimate Engineering”.

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:

“Dressing America” Off-camera narration, Pacific Street Films
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 10:00pm on Channel 13
Sunday, September 7, 2014, 10:30pm on Channel 13
Thursday, September 11, 2014, 10:00pm on Channel 21
Friday, September 12, 2014, 1:00am on Channel 21

The story, through interviews, of the 1950s New York garment center Jews who turned French haute couture into modern American ready-to-wear.

Metropolitan Museum of Art “Orientalism and New York”
Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 6:00pm

In spite of today’s headlines, the world of North Africa and the Middle East was once considered by Western artists and creative types as a Shangri-La of new ideas for art, music, architecture and design. In the 1830s-70s period avant garde designers in Europe and then America used Muslim/Moorish ideas of architecture, room design and decoration to provide a new “alternative” to Western neo-classicism. We’ll see that “revolution” in design unfolding in New York with works as varied as Central Park and the “Tiffany Room” at the Seventh Regiment Armory.

The City Transformed, Part One, Fall 2014 / New York from Colonial Times to the 1890s
Wednesdays, October 1 to November 19, 2014, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Cooper Union

Registration for Spring 2014 Continuing Education classes begins September 3, 2014 and ends September 18, 2014. After Sept 18th, a $15.00 late fee is charged.

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

Cooper Union’s Continuing Education website:

Direct link to “The City Transformed, Part One”

Begun as a trading post by the Dutch in the 1620s New York was transformed through the 1830s into the major American metropolis becoming the country’s industrial giant and financial powerhouse. Using architectural style as our lens, we will move through each era--the Federal, the Greek Revival, the Gothic Revival, the Italianate, etc.—looking at the styles that defined those eras, what those styles said about the people who adopted them and how the city changed dramatically as one architectural era segued into another. By the 1890s New York stood poised ready to become a world capital of the next century.

For a detailed course curriculum, click here

New-York Historical Society, “Home in New York”
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 6:30pm

It has never been easy to be middle class in New York.  Since the modern era began almost 200 years ago ever rising real estate prices in Manhattan have dictated how the bourgeoisie could exist; this was a narrow island with few choice addresses.  We will look at the New York rowhouse  and the city’s middle class apartment buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries to see how our city’s bourgeois class dealt with the reality of Manhattan living.

New-York Historical Society, “East Side vs West Side”
Monday, October 27, 2014, 6:30pm

In New York Central Park is the Great Divide.  The Upper East and West Sides, both developed after the Civil War and extensively rebuilt to skyscraper scale in the 20th century, have always had distinctly different characters.  We’ll be looking at those differences and offering some observations through each neighborhood’s distinctive architecture and urban layout.

New-York Historical Society, “Jazz Age Manhattan”
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 6:30pm

Manhattan after World War I became, arguably, the world’s first skyscraper city. Confined before the War to Wall Street and Madison Square, the skyscraper in the 1920s spread to every corner of middle-class Manhattan: residential towers rose on Park and West End Avenues and Central Park West, high rise factories created a new Garment Center on Seventh Avenue and new skyscraper corporate headquarters–the Chrysler Building remains iconic–appeared opposite Grand Central. The “pre-War” city of gas lighting, horses and carriages and rowhouses was a thing of the past. We’ll take a look at this new city of penthouse living, corporate spires and factories ‘in the sky’ that changed New York’s scale forever.