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40th Anniversary

Perpetual Revolution

The ongoing saga of a city that thrives on upheaval.

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Typographic illustration by Apirat Infahsaeng  

The day that the first issue of New York Magazine hit the stands, April 1, 1968, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 861, and nobody was leaping from window ledges. They were more likely jumping for joy. The sixties had witnessed the creation of the modern Wall Street, a nascent money machine that would eventually flood the city with cash. But that would take time. The year 1968 marked something of a peak. By the early seventies, New York was in a tailspin; a chart of the stock market for much of that decade looks like the Swiss Alps—hopeful rallies followed by crushing new lows. This wasn’t an abstraction; it reflected reality on the street. The city convulsed with change, most of it not good. Neighborhoods were torched, factories shuttered, crime soared, and the suburbs beckoned. But the apocalypse was somehow averted: New York bottomed, and slowly it began to reconstitute itself. A new wave of immigration breathed life into working-class neighborhoods. Within certain pockets, creativity flourished. Cheap apartments made any dream possible, provided you didn’t get beat up. Faith in urban living was tested, though not broken, and a different kind of city took form, shaking free of the old orthodoxies. That’s what this issue is all about—the unusual degree of tumult the city has experienced during the 40 years of the magazine’s life, how New York became the place it has become, and what was gained and lost. It is a hopeful story, especially for what it says about the future. Wall Street, as we all know, has apparently peaked again, and many New Yorkers are bracing for a difficult next chapter. But even the most dire pessimists, looking back on the last 40 years, would be hard-pressed to argue that New York can’t handle whatever’s coming next. As Woody Allen observes in the pages ahead, if there’s one thing we can all believe in, it’s this city’s capacity to absorb almost anything and keep going.


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