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.

The City Transformed, Part Two, Spring 2015 / New York from the 1890s to Modern Times
Wednesdays, March 18 to May 6, 2015, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Cooper Union

Registration for Spring 2015 Continuing Education classes begins January 6, 2015 at 10:30am and ends January 26,2015. If students register by January 9th, Cooper Union will waive the $25 registration fee; enter the code 'newyear' for the promo online.

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

Cooper Union’s Continuing Education website:

A direct link to the "City Transformed" site at Cooper Union will be provided when available.

New York emerged by 1900 as a world capital of one of the globe's most important economic and political powers. Each generation of the modern era, the city rebuilt itself in successive styles that remade its skyline: the Beaux-Arts (the1890s–1920s), the Art Deco (the 1920s), the Art Moderne (the 1930s), the Mid-Century Modern (1950s–70s), the Post-Modern (1980s–90s) and finally the current Modern Movement Revival. These styles each, in its own way, expressed the city's particular vibrancy. We will be focusing especially on the 1890s to 1940s era when Americans actually liked their cities and urban complexes as different as Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center and Parkchester showed the world how to build a modern 20th century metropolis.

For a detailed course curriculum, click here

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.

New-York Historical Society, “Antebellum New York;
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 6:30pm

In the decades before the Civil War New Yorkers had plenty on their minds besides the slavery issue. Industrialization had radically changed the city in the previous 20 years, immigrants needed for labor were bringing "foreign" cultures to our shore, the rising middle class was beginning to mimic European high society and the latest technology was changing our everyday lives–if we had the money to afford it. Join us to look at a city whose own thorny problems made the "slavery question" seem a distant dilemma.

New-York Historical Society, “Central Park”
Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 6:30pm

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. What would New York be without Central Park?! Join us to look at the story of the Park's origins, its avant-garde architectural details and its concept of what a public park should look like if it's built by a democratic society.