Barry Lewis’ “live” tour of this website

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

Possible lecture topics
Past speaking engagements

The Avant/Garde Diaries (Sponsored by Mercedes Benz)

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 2017 / New York from the 1890s to the Modern Era 
Wednesdays, Mar 22 to May 10, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm at Cooper Union; 8 lectures.

Registration for Spring 2017 Continuing Education classes is accessed thru the CU Continuing Ed link listed below.

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

Cooper Union’s Continuing Education website: Registration is open Jan 5th-23rd, 2017. After Jan 23rd, a late fee will be charged.

New York — its buildings, planning and growth from the 1890s to the present. Emerging by 1900 as a world capital of the globe’s newest world power, New York has, each generation since, used successive architectural styles to re-make 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 today the current Modern Movement Revival. Each of these styles has expressed the city’s unique vibrancy at a particular time in our history. Every generation of our 20th and 21st centuries has created its own new skyline, usually bigger & and taller than anything that went before. We will be looking at that ever evolving phenomenon called New York thru the lens of architectural history and see how each generation’s “layer” adds to the city we know today.

For a detailed course curriculum, click here

New-York Historical Society, “Coney Island”
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:30pm

Coney Island and Times Square both came of age in the same generation giving New York City modern entertainment districts for the masses. The “square” was for urban cruising and city amusements. Coney Island was for getting “out of town” and going to the seashore. Coney’s great new amusement parks, Steeplechase, Luna Park and Dreamland were true fantasy lands possible because of modern electric motors and lights. Coney’s fun houses threw you around, Coney’s roller coasters yanked you up and down and the new pastime of sea-bathing allowed starchy city dwellers to relax in their revealing knit “bathing costumes”. Coney encouraged you to let it “hang out”, to get lost in the crowds, to find thrills and fantasy. Coney was the 20th century introducing itself to New York.

New-York Historical Society, “Gracie Mansion”
Thursday, April 27, 2017, 6:30pm

Gracie Mansion, completed in 1810, is one of several early fine country houses that have miraculously survived in upper Manhattan. Along with Hamilton Grange (1802), the Morris-Jumel (1765), and Boscobel (1810) up the Hudson in Garrison, Archibald Gracie’s up-island house reflects this period in European and American design---called the Neoclassical in Europe and the Federal in America—when houses were opened to the light, their walls splashed with vibrant colors, their furniture light and spare. This dedication to light and space is most memorably demonstrated in Thomas Jefferson’s contemporary Monticello. We will take a look at the simple spare interiors that gave young Modernists of the early 20th century the inspiration to throw off Victorian formality and stuffiness.

New-York Historical Society, “Gilded Age”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 6:30pm

For most people the Gilded Age, the era when nouveau-riche Americans did their best to mimic the European aristocracy (while buying up bushels of old master paintings and fine antiquities), was basically the years between the Civil War and World War I. But actually there were 2 Gilded Ages: the riot of bad taste that followed the Civil War, and the “later” Gilded Age, the 1880-1910s, when professionally trained architects and interior designers merged European Renaissance-based neo-classicism with a very Yankee sense of innovation and pragmatism producing fine almost modernist masterpieces like the Otto Khan house (now the Convent of the Sacred Heart school for girls) and great civic achievements like Grand Central Terminal and the original Pennsylvania Station.