Henry Hope Reed papers, 1911-1998

Henry Hope Reed papers, 1911-1998
28.5 linear feet (in 28 archival boxes, 1 oversize box, and 1 roll)
This collection is made up of six series: Professional Papers, New York Walking Tours, The Parks of New York City (unpublished book), Classical Architecture Research Files, Correspondence, and Classical America.
Finding Aid
Finding aid available online. See Online Link.
This collection contains Henry Hope Reed's writings, correspondence, photographs and extensive research files on classical architecture and the people, parks, buildings, streets and history of New York City.
Biographical / Historical Note
Henry Hope Reed (1915-2013) was an American author, architecture critic and advocate of classical architecture. Along with writing and giving New York City walking tours, Reed had been curator of Central Park and co-founder of Classical America.
Through his writings, lectures, exhibitions and walks, Reed rose to prominence as a vociferous critic of modern architecture, declaring the "The Modern is Dead" in 1957. He attacked modernism's obsession with originality and its "past-deprived palette," and championed a forgotten, more holistic tradition of architecture, ornamentation and city planning: "Only the classical has given America its greatest mural decoration, its greatest squares and avenues, its most beautiful gardens and its most splendid city." Throughout the 1960s, Reed extended his output to guides for sites such as New York's City Hall and Appellate Court. More books followed: The Golden City in 1959, which attracted derision for its side-by-side comparisons of old and new buildings; Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles (co-edited with William A. Coles) in 1961; and Central Park: A History and A Guide (co-written with Sophia Duckworth) in 1967. Over the next decades, his work would include books on Palladio, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the United State Capitol, and New York's Beaux-Arts architecture.
Reed was named curator of Central Park in 1966 and campaigned to preserve and promote classic features of the park, while denouncing changes to its "rural, rustic and reposeful" mission. His language in both his walks and writings remained impassioned and colorful: canned music at the Wollman Memorial skating rink was an "incredible vulgarity"; a new comfort station was "a ghastly pimple on the Olmstedian landscape"; the sight of grass erosion filled his soul with "hideous melancholy." Reed raised funds and researched maps for the park, which perhaps triggered his work on a vast book in 1969 and into the early 1970s, The Parks of New York City, which would remain unpublished.
In 1968, Reed founded Classical America with Bailey, Pierce Rice and other like-minded classicists. The society signed up members, offered classical drawing and drafting courses, ran conferences, established chapters in other cities and states, and published a regular newsletter and, eventually, its own booklist: the "Classical America Series in Art and Architecture." The group received support from people like Tom Wolfe, Raymond Rubinow and Arthur Ross, whose name was attached to a yearly award. Classical America merged with the Institute of Classical Architecture in 2002.
Reed died in New York City on May 1, 2013.
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email
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