Downtown Terra-Cotta

Event Pass Information

Event Pass Type
Price
Quantity
General Public$20.00 USD
Member$10.00 USD
Student with Valid ID$10.00 USD

Event Details

Meet in front of the Potter Building, 38 Park Row at Beekman Street.

Before New York’s tallest towers were sheathed in glass, they were clad in clay. Terra-Cotta, or “fired earth,” is an ancient building material made of baked clay that helped make New York a modern city. At the turn of the 20th century, terra-cotta became a sought-after fire-proof skin for the steel skeletons of the city’s tallest buildings. Though you’ll find it on some of New York’s most iconic structures, including the Flatiron Building, the Woolworth Building, and the Plaza Hotel, terra-cotta often hides in plain sight, mimicking other materials like granite or carved wood.

On this tour of Lower Manhattan, we’ll uncover some of city’s earliest terra-cotta structures and find out how New York got fired up about fired earth. Along the way, we’ll see the tallest terra-cotta structure in the world, find out how the nephews of Samuel Morse commissioned the city’s earliest surviving “fireproof” skyscraper, and learn how this stunningly versatile material moved from monochrome to multi-colored and helped shift the city from Beaux-Arts beauty to Art Deco splendor!

Tours will run rain or shine. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to tour start time. Registration is limited to 15; walk-ups are not guaranteed a spot on the tour.

This tour is a collaboration with Archive on Parade, and will be led by guest guide Lucie Levine. Levine is a writer, historian, and New York City tour guide. She founded Archive on Parade, a historical tour and event company, and has collaborated with institutions including the Municipal Art Society, the New York Public Library, and more, on tours, lectures and community events all over town. She is also the Contributing History Writer at 6sqft and News Editor at Greenpointers.

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