Christopher Gray (1951-2017), an architectural detective and social historian whose Streetscapes column in The New York Times brought to light all of the architectural wonders of New York City. The column ran from 1987 to 2016 in the Real Estate section on Sunday in the NY Times and many readers made it their first stop on Sunday morning. The columns “were narratives of creation, abandonment and restoration that lovingly highlighted quirky design and backstairs gossip from decades past.” (NY Times)
Mr. Gray also founded the Office for Metropolitan History in 1975. The office could be hired to do research on a building including the history of the building including deeds, photos, street maps and more. Many came to rely on Mr. Gray for architectural information including R.A.M Stern who wrote the “AIA Guide to New York City”, the definitive book about buildings in NYC.
Born in Kansas City, he moved to NYC when he was 9 with his mother who worked for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. His love of the buildings in the city began right away. After graduating from high school, he worked as a cab driver and a mail delivery person while attending Columbia University. Mr. Gray began writing a column for Avenue magazine in 1980, and one for House & Garden in 1982.
Mr. Gray died of pneumonia in 2017, but you can still read an archive of his column in the book “New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan’s Significant Buildings and Landmarks.”