In 1968, an editor named Clay Felker bought the rights to the Sunday supplement of the New York Herald Tribune and published it as a stand-alone magazine. His motivation was simple: He wanted a publication unbeholden to tradition, one that reflected the evolving habits and customs of New Yorkers, people who went out for Chinese food, argued about movies, and wondered if John Lindsay might one day be president. Felker’s first issue hit newsstands in April of that year, and 40 years later, here we are, still pursuing the same mission, only now we have a much shorter mayor to write about.
Like many who have faced this particular birthday, we have a few misgivings. But that won’t stop us from making a deal of it, because, well, magazines have made a cottage industry out of celebrating their anniversaries and we’re not about to miss our chance. In fact, we’re going to mark ours four times in 2008, as we rotate through each of the magazine’s three central sections and then culminate in a special anniversary issue in the fall. This week, you’ll find the “Strategist” redone as if we’d time-traveled all the way back to 1968. We won’t spoil the fun of it here, but suffice it to say that back then, TGI Friday’s was a place you’d happily be caught dead in. For those whose memories do not reach all the way to the magazine’s early years, we want you to know that the design of the section is an almost exact replica of the look created by the magazine’s original designers, Milton Glaser and Walter Bernard.
Celebrating this anniversary is not just about the magazine, of course. The story of New York parallels perfectly the story of the city itself—from the contentious politics, hedonistic living, and improbable sports victories that coincided with the magazine’s birth to the contentious politics, hedonistic living, and improbable sports victories that define the present moment. Along the way, there have been many great stories that deserve retelling, as well as plenty of new ones to tell about the city’s epic 40-year journey, and over the next several months, we intend to take you on the whole glorious trip. First stop, our ’68 museum. Pull up a chair at the finest table at Orsini’s and enjoy the view.