Avery Drawings & Archives Collections

Henry Hope Reed papers, 1911-1998

Summary Information


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 served curator of Central Park and co-founder of Classical America. This collection contains his writings, correspondence, photographs and extensive research files on classical architecture and the people, parks, buildings, streets and history of New York City.

At a Glance

Bib ID 10142968 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Reed, Henry Hope
Title Henry Hope Reed papers, 1911-1998
Physical Description 28 document boxes; 1 print box; 1 rolls
Language(s) English .

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. Unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed. Email avery-drawings@columbia.edu for more information.



This collection is made up of six series: Professional Papers, New York Walking Tours, The Parks of New York City (unpublished book), Classical Architecture Research Files, Correspondence, and Classical America.


Scope and Content

This collection contains the texts, correspondence, research files, printed material, photographs and negatives relating to Henry Hope Reed's writings and research. A large quantity of the materials relates to two of Reed's important projects: his New York Walking Tours and The Parks of New York City, an unpublished book.

The organization of the material largely follows Reed's own evident filing system or the system put in place before the material was delivered. This may lead to some overlap, particularly between the Correspondence series and Classical Architecture Research Files: Individuals subseries, and between the Professional Papers series and the Classical Architecture Research Files: Topics and Organizations subseries.

Most folders include some or all of the following: clippings (newspaper and magazine), research notes (typed and handwritten), photos and negatives, maps (property and city), building plans, postcards, brochures, journals and correspondence. A small amount of audio material and a microfilm are also included. The original order in which the material was received has been maintained as much as possible.

In Series I to IV, it is always noted when a folder contains correspondence, but specific persons are only noted where the correspondence appeared to be significant. In Series V, material is organized alphabetically by last name of the author of the correspondence and only well-known or correspondents of interest to the life and work of Reed have been named. Correspondence is both professional and personal, ranges from the 1950s to 2000s, and includes letters to and from architects, critics and academics, as well as Reed's collaborators, colleagues, friends and relatives.

Reed initially published as Henry Hope Reed Jr. but eventually dropped the Jr.

Series I: Professional Papers

This series comprises files relevant to Reed's output, not including his work on New York Walking Tours or his unpublished manuscript The Parks of New York City. The majority of the content for this series is arranged by year published or years in which the piece is assumed to have been written, since some of the content of this series is undated. The labeling for the folders in the "New York History" portion of the Writings subseries follows the system that appears to have been put in place by the donor's family.

Subseries 1: Writing includes final versions and working drafts of articles (published and unpublished), book reviews, essays and introductions, dictionary and biographical entries, letters to editors, and guides for specific sites and towns. Files on Reed's books include research material, photos, negatives and correspondence. Reed's published books are not included in the collection.

Subseries 2: Lectures & Exhibitions includes Reed's drafts and final texts for lectures, addresses, presentations and testimonies, as well as exhibition texts written by Reed, and material on exhibitions and conferences he participated in organizing.

Subseries 3: Central Park Curatorship includes files relating to Reed's appointment as Curator of Central Park in 1966. Material includes extensive correspondence, city and parks reports, meeting minutes, and information on specific causes, such as saving the park stables in 1967. The photographs by E. Powis Jones are housed within this subseries because they document the conditions of Central Park in the summer of 1968 as well as the ways in which the public used park facilities. However, it is not confirmed whether Reed actually amassed the material, both photographic and reference, for his Central Park Curatorship nor that he organized and captioned the photographs.

Subseries 4: Publicity includes clippings referencing Reed from the 1950s to 1990s, as well as reviews and notices for his books.

Subseries 5: General includes miscellaneous files such as broadcast consultancy work, a translation project on Alberti, travel notes, reading lists, and information on Reed's Guggenheim Fellowship award.

Series II: New York Walking Tours

The bulk of this series is the extensive research material relating to Reed's walking tours of New York City. Material in these folders mostly relates to the buildings, streets, sites and neighborhoods along the walks, but also includes information on relevant organizations and individuals.

Folder titles reflect Reed's original folder names by tour (eg. "Fifth Avenue of the Vanderbilts," "Lenox Hill Tour"). Additionally, the folders were titled following Reed's own use of Roman numerals and 'Primary' and 'Secondary' designations, for example: "Park Avenue I - Primary," "Park Avenue II – Primary," and "Park Avenue via Glassville – Secondary I". A further categorization system also appears, with numbers or series of numbers appearing in the top right hand corner of much of the material within the folders. For example, material within the Brooklyn Bridge Tour folders is numbered 51-54; Cooper Union is numbered 122 but also appears numbered as 140-155. No key to either of Reed's categorization systems was found in the collection.

The subseries categorizations of Uptown Manhattan, Mid-Manhattan, Downtown Manhattan and Beyond Manhattan and General were imposed during processing.

Series 3: The Parks of New York City (unpublished book)

From 1969 and into the early 1970s, Reed researched and wrote a book on the many parks of New York City's five boroughs. The book seemed to have been intended for publication with W.W. Norton, and then by the Greensward Foundation.

While the bulk of the material is research (much of which was originally held in binders), the subseries will also include manuscript drafts of chapters. Folders with 'Manuscript' in the title indicate annotated drafts and an occasional (final?) unmarked text. The numbers given to these manuscript folders were imposed during processing, to differentiate between the drafts and not to reflect the order in which they were written (as this was not necessarily evident). Manuscripts are often incomplete, with pages missing, or out of order.

Subseries categories follows those given by Reed, but have been combined during processing where there was less material: Manhattan Parks, Brooklyn and Bronx Parks, Queens and Staten Island Parks, and General, which includes manuscripts for Front Matter, Introduction, Conclusion, Appendices and general research material.

Series IV: Classical Architecture Research Files

The folders in this series carry the same titles that appear to have been given by the donor's family. The three subseries were imposed during processing to reflect the key areas of research material Reed kept on classical architecture. Many folders in this series contain only one item (for example, a photo, postcard or clipping).

Subseries 1: Individuals includes files relating to historical and contemporary figures relevant to classical architecture. These folders often include correspondence, research notes, clippings, photographs and negatives. Some of the correspondence from these files was also originally found in the Correspondence series and included here to avoid doubling up.

Subseries 2: Sites refers to architectural sites as well as geographic ones (cities or countries).

Subseries 3: Topics and Organizations includes research material on subjects of interest and organizations involved in classical architecture.

Series V: Correspondence

This series has been sorted alphabetically by last name of the author of the correspondence, according to Reed's own arrangement. Where correspondence has been extensive, or if the correspondent appears to have been significant in the life and work of Reed, a separate folder has been created. A number of interesting (and more personal) letters appear in the Unidentified Correspondence folder. Letters and copies by letters authored by Reed are contained within the folder, "Reed, Henry Hope."

Series VI: Classical America

This series includes materials related to Reed's work as co-founder, President, and board member of Classical America. The majority of the material relates to Classical America events, drawing courses, an unaired videotape series, membership, the Arthur Ross award program, and board meetings. The "Contributors" portion of the series includes material concerning major figures in the founding and day-to-day work of the organization. The material within "Contributors" includes materials and correspondence related to or Reed received from individuals like John Barrington Bayley, Pierce Rice, Rollin Jensen, and Christopher Tunnard. This series also includes newsletters published by Classical America under the names "The Classical American," "The Classical Forum," and "Classical America" as well as drafts and published versions of the Classical America Magazine issues I to V; however, most of the written material specifically authored by Reed is contained within the Professional Papers series and Writings subseries. The slides pertaining to Washington D.C. that are housed within the Classical America series of the Henry Hope Reed papers were originally donated by Reed as part of a separate collection concerning the photographic work of John Barrington Bayley. It is assumed that Bayley is the curator of these slides, but that Bayley donated the slides to Reed to be used by Classical America rather than as part of his personal collection of photographs.

Publication Date


Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. Unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. All original copies of audio / moving image media are closed. Email avery-drawings@columbia.edu for more information.

Restrictions on Use

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Henry Hope Reed papers, 1911-1998, Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Henry Hope Reed and Andy Reed. Method of acquisition--Donated;; Date of acquisition--1995, 1997, 2010, 2012, 2013.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

Processed; Pamela Casey 2012-2013.

Revision Description

2013-02-20 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sound recordings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Video recordings (physical artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Andrews, Wayne Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural criticism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural writing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- History -- 19th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bayley, John Barrington, 1914-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Burnham, Alan, 1913-1984 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Central Park (New York, N.Y.) -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classical America (Society) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- New York -- Guidebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Historic districts -- New York (State) -- New York -- Guidebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Municipal Art Society of New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Neoclassicism (Architecture) -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York (N.Y.) -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York (N.Y.) -- Tours Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Parks -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tunnard, Christopher Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Walking -- New York (State) -- New York -- Guidebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Henry Hope Reed Jr. was born in New York City on September 25, 1915 and grew up a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side, the eldest of his two brothers, Walter Webb Reed and Joseph Reed. After the death in 1925 of their mother Elizabeth Digby Leeds Reed, Reed's father Henry Hope Reed Sr., a marine-insurance executive and art and architecture patron, remarried Eleanor Beers Reed. In the late 1950s, the couple moved to Greece, where they became trustees-in-residence at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki. Reed would later describe his curiosity in America's past of "wood, brick and stone" as being initially "nurtured by generous parents."

Reed graduated in history from Harvard in 1938, where he befriended architectural photographer Wayne Andrews. His friendships with Andrews, historical preservationist Alan Burnham, and architect John Barrington Bayley (who would design the Frick addition in the 1970s), helped develop Reed's keen interest in old buildings, especially those with classical elements. Reed subsequently studied in Europe, at the École du Louvre in Paris and the American Academy in Rome. By the 1950s, Reed was publishing articles and mounting exhibitions in New York and at Yale, where he also taught from 1950-53.

Co-written with critic Christopher Tunnard, Reed's first book American Skyline was "a history of American city planning that lionized…heroic, Classically-inspired urban architecture." From 1956, Reed was running walking tours for the Municipal Art Society of New York, and would go on to direct these for the Museum of the City of New York from 1960. These walks highlighted the city's "finest examples of American Renaissance Architecture" and "Classical splendors." His Walks in New York was published by Harper Books by 1960, the same year he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to support his study of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. From 1962-63, Reed penned a weekly "Discover New York" column in New York's Sunday Herald Tribune.

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 Style s (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 Bayley, 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's strident criticisms of "the Modern" often led to his being seen as a contrarian: in 1956, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable described his ideas as being "ludicrously out of character with contemporary life." By the 1980s and 1990s however, interest in Reed revived. Once described as a fuddy-duddy and a crank, Reed found himself a "faith keeper" and "prescient hero," as interest in classical architecture appeared to return. In 2005, Reed was the Laureate for the inaugural Henry Hope Reed award, given in conjunction with the Driehaus Prize by the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame.

Reed's first marriage was to Joan Aucourt in 1959. In 1968, he married New Yorker staff writer, Constance Culbertson Feeley, with whom he remained until her death in 2007.

Reed died in New York City on May 1, 2013.


Curriculum Vitae, Henry Hope Reed

Gray, Christopher, "Streetscapes/Henry Hope Reed; An Architecture Critic Who Still Loves the Classics," New York Times, September 19, 1999

Kahn, Eve M., "Henry Hope Reed: The Faith Keeper," Traditional Building, September/October 1995

Reed, Henry Hope Reed Jr., The Golden City, New York, W.W. Norton, 1959 (reprinted 1970)

Reed, Henry Hope Reed Jr., "Discover New York," New York Herald Tribune, 1962-63

Robertson, Nan, "Historian Irked by Central Park," New York Times, May 15, 1961

Sanders, James, "After Years in the Cold, A Feisty Critic is Back in Style", Avenue Magazine, February 1985