Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #82

Henry Hope Reed (1915 – 2013)

82 Henry Hope Reed

After first seeing walking tours in Paris, architecture critic and civic historian Henry Hope Reed began guiding walks in New York City 60 years ago, when no one else was doing it. Standing up for the old guard, Reed was legendary for his disdain for modern buildings, lashing them with such descriptions as “relentlessly and mercilessly clean.” But he was equally famous for extolling the virtues of classical structures, such as Grand Central Terminal or the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch in Brooklyn. Whether New Yorkers agreed with him or joined those who called him a “fuddy-duddy”, they respected his passion for the city and his activism for its beautification. At various times, he worked for the Parks Department and the Municipal Arts Society, campaigning to have the park closed to traffic and writing several books on the architectural history of the city. Through the city’s darkest days, he never saw it as anything less than beautiful and worth fighting for.

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