Home Morningside Events - Morningside Area Alliance Talks Person Place Thing with Michael Henry Adams


Maysles Documentary Center
343 Malcolm X Blvd/Lenox Avenue bet. 127th and 128th Streets New York, NY 10027


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Mar 12 2024


6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)


Person Place Thing with Michael Henry Adams

An activist, historian, artist, and lecturer—as well as a style maven—Michael Henry Adams wears many hats. No matter the medium, Adams’s work strives to amplify the history of New York City’s Black community and preserve its cultural and material legacy. Adams moved to Harlem in the 1980s to attend Columbia University’s Historic Preservation program and immediately became a leader in the fight to protect the neighborhood’s notable buildings—like the Audubon Ballroom and the Mount Morris Park Historic District—against waves of gentrification, redevelopment, and eminent domain.

In addition to his lectures and articles on historic preservation, Adams is the author of Harlem: Lost and FoundStyle and Grace: African Americans at Home, and American Regional Rooms: A New Perspective on Traditional Design. He regularly conducts walking tours of Harlem, telling the stories of vanished landmarks and highlighting the architectural and cultural treasures that remain. And he maintains his own archive of community history in his Harlem apartment, where fragments of now-demolished theaters and townhouses share space with works by local artists, vintage photographs, and meticulously curated thrift store finds.

On March 12, Open House New York and Person Place Thing will host a live, in-person conversation between Michael Henry Adams and host Randy Cohen at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem. Person Place Thing is a long-running public radio program series that asks creatives and leaders in diverse fields to talk about one person, one place, and one thing that are important to them, yielding a new perspective on the featured guest’s work, life, and inspirations.

The program will feature live music by Brooklyn-born multi-instrumentalist roots musician Hubby Jenkins.

AIA CES credit has been submitted for this program.

About the Speakers:

Michael Henry Adams is an architectural and cultural historian and historic preservation activist. He has written for The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Guardian, and The Advocate, among other publications. His books include Harlem: Lost and FoundStyle and Grace: African Americans at Home, and American Regional Rooms: A New Perspective on Traditional Design.

Randy Cohen’s first professional work was writing humor pieces, essays, and stories for newspapers and magazines (The New Yorker, Harpers, The Atlantic, Young Love Comics). His first television work was writing for “Late Night With David Letterman” for which he won three Emmy awards. His fourth Emmy was for his work on Michael Moore’s “TV Nation.” He received a fifth Emmy as a result of a clerical error, and he kept it. For twelve years he wrote “The Ethicist,” a weekly column for the New York Times Magazine. In 2010, his first play, “The Punishing Blow,” ran at New York’s Clurman Theater. His most recent book, “Be Good: how to navigate the ethics of everything,” was published by Chronicle. He is currently the creator and host of Person Place Thing, a public radio program.


Person Place Thing is produced with the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and sponsored by WAMC Northeast Public Radio.  An interview show, it is based on this idea: people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Guests talk about one person, one place, and one thing that are important to them. The result?  Surprising stories from great talkers.