Dan Barry: Author and Columnitst for The New York Times


Sept 13, 2012 | 7PM "Hope Diamond" - Dan Barry speaks at Boston College Each summer, Boston College asks its incoming freshmen to read a book whose theme can provide a starting point for reflection and conversation that will later be illuminated through an address by the author at the annual First Year Convocation in September. The book for this year’s class is Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry.

Oct 23, 2012 | 7PM 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City. Details are forthcoming for this event. Stay tuned.

Recent Work

For Patsy Cline’s Hometown, an Embrace That Took Decades Dec. 24, 2012 - A modest tin-roof house stands as a monument to a dropout turned country singer who gained more recognition from Winchester, Va., after her death at 30 than during her life. Full Story

With the Why Elusive, Two Boys, Two Burials Dec. 18, 2012 - The people of Newtown buried two boys on Monday afternoon, in the first of the many funerals to follow last week's massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The boys were both 6 years old. Full Story

Divining the Weather, With Methods Old and New Dec 10, 2012 - Bill O'Toole works as the seventh prognosticator of J. Gruber's Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack, a line of work that began in 1797 with a star-savvy blacksmith. Full Story

Storm-Tossed Memories Nov 18, 2012 - Hurricane Sandy transformed cherished snapshots into an open-air exhibition of people's lives. Full Story

Back When a Chocolate Puck Tasted, Guiltily, Like America Nov 17, 2012 - Consumers already knew that not everything is good for you, and this was never truer than with a Twinkie, a Sno Ball, or a Ring Ding — the Ding Dong equivalent in the Northeast. Full Story

In a Small Ohio City, an Almost Sacred Day of Civic Purpose Nov 7, 2012 - The jaded might contend that in a presidential election, one vote among tens of millions has no meaning. In Elyria, Ohio, voting is simply what you do. Full Story

Hoops Springs Eternal Nov 5, 2012 - It's basketball season again. The hoop beckons. Do you hearken to its call? Full Story

Evoking 18th-Century Drama, a Tragedy on the Bounty Nov 4, 2012 - A vessel of timber and lore was hammered by the hurricane, and the captain has not been found. Full Story

With a New Menu and a Makeover, a Promise to Keep Going Oct. 18, 2012 - One constant in a struggling city like Elyria, Ohio, is the shared determination to make it through this day and into the next. Full Story

In the Hard Fall of a Favorite Son, a Reminder of a City's Scars Oct. 17, 2012 - Ike Maxwell walks the streets of Elyria, Ohio, as if determined to break through life's defensive line. Often he is shouting. But what is he trying to say? Full Story

After a Childhood Pouring Refills, Reaching Beyond the Past Oct. 16, 2012 - Bridgette Harvan, 21, has worked at her grandmother's diner since she was 9. But as the breakfast regulars reminisce of better days in Elyria, Ohio, she dreams of a brighter future in a rejuvenated town.. Full Story

New Mayor, Big To-Do List Oct. 15, 2012 - Mayor Holly Brinda, a fourth-generation resident of Elyria, Ohio, remains hopeful despite cutbacks that have cost city jobs and reduced city services. Full Story

At the Corner of Hope and Worry Oct. 14, 2012 - A small cafe, in the small city of Elyria, Ohio, is being tested by a tough economy. It is the kind of place where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each hope that his promise of a restored American dream will resonate. Full Story

City Lights: Stories About New York


New York Times

Nov. 4, 2007 - Review by Meryl Gordon. "It’s easy to wake up and spend a day in New York and not notice the wonder of it all..." Full Review

Boston Globe

Dec. 24, 2007 - Review by Robert Braile. "...New York emerges as a moral and ethical landscape, much like Charles Dickens's London, with humanity the measure of the city."

Providence Journal

Nov. 25, 2007 - Review by Sam Coale. "...These are the marginalized, not the glitterati we're accustomed to seeing along the Great White Way but ordinary folk (although Barry has a sharp eye to find the extraordinary among the supposedly ordinary) in routine jobs, usually the third or fourth generation carrying on family traditions."


Jun. 15, 2008 - Review by Bill Ruelmann. "LET'S BEGIN on a winter night with pajamaed Nicole Walkes, 19, crouched on the front porch roof of her burning house in Brooklyn." Full Review

Buffalo News

Jan. 6, 2008 - Review by Lee Coppola. "City Lights finds nuggets in New York that only a person tuned to human pathos, to human foibles, to human frailties, can find. His stories leave readers amused, horrified and enlightened, but most of all appreciative."

Irish Voice

Nov. 7, 2007 - Review by Cahir O'Doherty. "Gifted with a poet's eye for detail, and a historian's ability to see the ghostly connections between the past and the present,.." Full Review


City Lights: Stories About New York

Purchase at:

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Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 30, 2007
ISBN: 9780312538910
ISBN10: 031253891X
Pages: 297 pages

Fulton Fish Market

The Fulton Fish Market circa 2005.

McSoreley's Ale House

McSorley's Old Ale House- a New York institution since 1854.

McSoreley's Ale House

The majestic Plaza Hotel
Courtesy of eventtrender.com

With a poet’s clear eye and a journalist’s curiosity about how a city works, Dan Barry shows us New York as no other writer has seen it.

Evocative, intimate, piercing, and often funny, the essays in City Lights capture everyday life in the city at its most ordinary and extraordinary. Wandering the city as a columnist for The New York Times, Barry visits the denizens of the Fulton Fish Market on the eve of its closing; journeys with an obsessed guide through the secret underground of abandoned subway stops, tunnels, and aqueducts; touches down in bars, hospitals, churches, diners, pools, zoos, memorabilia-stuffed apartments, at births and funerals, the places where people gather, are welcomed, or depart; talks to the ex-athlete who caught the falling baby, the performance artist who works as a mermaid, the octogenarian dancers who find quiet joy in their partnership, and the guy who waves flags over the Cross-Bronx Expressway to wish drivers safe passage.

Along the way, Barry offers glimpses of New York’s distant and recent past. He explains why the dust-coated wishbones hanging above the bar at McSorley’s Old Ale House belong to the doughboy ghosts of World War I. He recalls a century of grandeur at the Plaza Hotel throught the tales of longtime doormen who will soon be out of a job. He finds that an old man’s quiet death opens back into a past that the man had spent his life denying. And, from the vantage of the Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, he joins tourists as they try to make sense of still-smoldering ruins in Lower Manhattan three weeks after September 11, 2001.

Each story in City Lights illuminates New York, as it was and as it is: always changing, always losing and renewing parts of itself, every street corner an opportunity for surprise and revelation.