Tudor City: Manhattan’s Historic Residential Enclave

RSVP Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 06:00 PM

In Tudor City: Manhattan’s Historic Residential Enclave, Lawrence R. Samuel recounts the history of Midtown Manhattan’s “urban Eden.” Created by the innovative developer Fred F. French from 1925 to 1929, Tudor City is arguably the world’s first skyscraper apartment complex and remains an idyllic enclave of neo-Tudor towers, parks, and quiet. Samuel traces the development of the Tudor City neighborhood over the decades to the present day.

Lawrence R. Samuel

Lawrence R. Samuel is the founder of AmeriCulture, a consultancy based in Miami and New York dedicated to transforming the cultural landscape into business opportunities. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies, an MBA in Marketing, and an MA in English. He is the author of numerous books on American history, American culture, and psychology. His books include The End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair (2007) and New York City 1964: A Cultural History (2014).


RSVP Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 06:00 PM

Week 4 pointedly enlarges our focus on urban commercial architecture to examine two lesser-studied types of tall buildings by use: hotels and lofts. Urban historians, A.K, Sandoval-Strausz and Andrew Dolkart, will draw on their detailed studies and analysis of these distinctive development types – Sandoval-Strausz in his book Hotel: An American History, and Dolkart especially for his study of skyscraper lofts in New York’s Garment District. For each, the analysis of the design and function of the architecture is connected to the social and economic construction of the industries they accommodate, as well as their urban context.

The format for this program, like Week 2 with Friedman and Leslie, is a pair of talks and a dialogue. A follow-up evening will offer the other participating speakers and the audience an opportunity to raise additional issues in a webinar Q&A discussion.

This discussion builds on several past lectures at The Skyscraper Museum by each speaker: the videos of these previous talks are highly recommended as background.

Andrew S. Dolkart, Developing the Garment District

Tom Mellins, Hotels: Big and Tall; Carol Willis, Lofty Lofts in The Rise of the Skyscraper City


A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, “Homes For A World of Strangers: Hospitality and the Origins of Multiple Dwellings in Urban America” Journal of Urban History, September 2007, pp. 933-964.

Louis H. Sullivan, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”,  Lippincott’s Magazine, March 1896,

Rewriting Skyscraper History:
Looking Back from the 21stC

RSVP Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 06:00 PM September to November
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This semester of webinars will engage an established group of scholars – all specialists in some aspect of skyscraper history who collaborated on earlier programs – to consider broad questions about the early history of the type and question many of the persistent 20th-century narratives, including an emphasis on technological determinism, “firsts,” and rivalries over stylistic expression. 

WEEK 1: NEW YORK & CHICAGO, FROM THE 1870S: Thinking about Tall Buildings and New …

WEEK 2: MASONRY TO STEEL, 1870S-1890S: How and When Masonry Transitioned to Steel

WEEK 3: BUSINESS BUILDINGS: Thinking about Corporate vs. Commercial Skyscrapers



Tall Buildings, Labor, and Capital

RSVP Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 06:00 PM

Joanna Merwood-Salisbury

What are the social and political dimensions of industrial innovation and technological change? In the 1880s and ‘90s, Joanna Merwood-Salisbury argues, the skyscraper was the subject of an ideological battle, as both the symbol of capitalism’s triumph and the target of anti-capitalist protest. As metal replaced masonry in tall-building construction, traditional building trades such as bricklayers and carpenters lost power, and new trades, including ironworkers, gained importance. General contractors, architects, and engineers organized into professional groups to manage the complexity of industrialized construction.

The Structure of Skyscrapers in America 1871-1900: Their History and Preservation

Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 06:30 PM (THIS WINTER)
In this new book, The Structure of Skyscrapers in America, 1871–1900, historian and structural engineer Donald Friedman presents a thorough history of the development of high-rise buildings, not only in New York and Chicago but across the country in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Providing a rich historical context for the emergence of the skyscraper, he details the range of the technical aspects of the construction of this new building type.

Donald Friedman, co-founder of Old Structures Engineering, has thirty years of experience as a structural engineer, working on both the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing structures. He has taught at the Pratt Institute, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Architecture, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He is the author of numerous articles for technical publications and five books on construction, renovation, and engineering.

Book cover of Wright and New York: The Making of America's Architect by Anthony Alofsin. Copyright Yale University Press.

Wright and New York:
The Making of America’s Architect

Wed, Dec 2, 2020 at 06:30 PM (POSTPONED)
Wright and New York turns upside down the conventional notion that Frank Lloyd Wright hated the city, and the city was antagonistic to him. In this illustrated lecture based on his new book, Anthony Alofsin outlines the developments in Wright’s life and work that demonstrate how New York turned around his career in the late 1920s and early 1930s to position him for the glory—and branding—of his final decades. The talk focuses on Wright’s visionary design for an immense Modern Cathedral to serve all religions and for the skyscraper, he designed for the church of St. Marks-in-the-Bouwerie in New York’s East Village.

Anthony Alofsin, FAIA, is the Roland Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. A practicing architect and art historian, he is known internationally as a leading expert on Frank Lloyd Wright. The author of a dozen books ranging on subjects from the architecture of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire to the history of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he has also written review essays for the Times Literary Supplement, The Atlantic, and The Burlington Magazine.