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100 People Who Changed New York

Eight million stories in the naked city, yadda yadda yadda. But these hundred are ones all of us have to listen to.

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MARV ALBERT, announcer. Contributions to street vernacular far outweighed tab indiscretions. Made the world safe for forgiveness.


WOODY ALLEN, comic, director. N.Y.-behavior modeler. Extra Bite >>>

KURT ANDERSEN, co-editor, Spy. Irony can’t be invented, can it? Euripides was pretty ironic.

HERMAN BADILLO, former liberal. Hopes to be the first Puerto Rican mayor dashed, he soured on electoral politics, bringing many with him.

BEASTIE BOYS, rappers. Without them, Eminem would be nothing. Extra Bite >>>

MICHAEL BENNETT, director-choreographer, A Chorus Line. Brought gay angst uptown, made minimalism say Broadway!
Extra Bite >>>

DAVID BERKOWITZ, Son of Sam. Breslin said his letters displayed proper use of the semicolon. Extra Bite >>>

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, finance savant, mayor. As mayor, his radio station revolutionized stock watching. Website good, too, but what is up with this smoking deal?

IVAN BOESKY, arrested Reagan-era arbitrageur. Had three phones in his car; still got caught. Quote: “Immoral is probably wrong . . . I prefer the word unethical.” A cautionary tale. Extra Bite >>>

MARY BOONE, art-gallery owner. Showing Julian Schnabel in 1979, David Salle in 1981, she created the celebrity-artist market.
Extra Bite >>>


JIMMY BRESLIN, newspaperman. Still the smartest, with the biggest—however addled—heart.

TINA BROWN, editor. Carp, carp—Tina’s New Yorker doesn’t look so bad these days. Extra Bite >>>

DAVID BYRNE, Talking Head. Nerd as hero.

BARBARA CORCORAN, Realtor. Chief bubble rider (in a prim red suit) of the biggest real-estate boom in history.

MARIO CUOMO, governor. Our Hamlet. At least the speeches were stirring.

AL D’AMATO, senator, fixer. Got Rudy his D.A. job, put Pataki in. That enuff for ya?

DON DELILLO, author. From Great Jones Street to Underworld, always raising the bar.

ROBERT DE NIRO, post-Method actor, Tribeca investor. N.Y. icon, from (lowlife) Johnny Boy to (high-tone) landlord.

AMADOU DIALLO, shooting victim. Sometimes it takes only a moment to lose your life and make everyone in a city grit their teeth.

DAVID DINKINS, mayor, 1990–93. We needed Jackie Robinson, but we got him.

MEADE ESPOSITO, County leader, Brooklyn, 1969–84. “Boss of the fucking state” pol gave out a lot of judgeships before being collared.

CLAY FELKER, founder, New York Magazine. Invented “city” magazine. Deserves (small) royalties from all yuppie commodifiers. Extra Bite >>>

DAVID GARTH, political consultant. The record: of the last nine mayoral elections, seven winners.


RUDY GIULIANI, mayor, 1994–2001. Savior to some, nightmare to others, had an agenda, pressed it, mightily.
Extra Bite >>>

BERNHARD GOETZ, subway vigilante. Crystallized rage and exorcised it at the same time, because who wanted to be him?

JOHN GOTTI, mafioso. The Teflon Don takes the stage. “I got to look good for my public.” Extra Bite >>>

STANLEY HILL, former DC 37 head. Leader of 135,000 municipal workers, Hill rigged contract votes and slept in $1,000 hotels, furthering labor’s inability to change much in the past 35 years.

ABBIE HOFFMAN, yippie. His never-quite-dead spirit currently being accessed by a new crew of high-school activists.


REGGIE JACKSON, Yankee. First jock to consistently speak of himself in the third person.
Extra Bite >>>

PAULINE KAEL, film critic. Wrong about De Palma—still, her acolytes proliferate.

MEIR KAHANE, radical founder, Jewish Defense League. His killing at the Marriott in 1990 widely linked to escalating terror war and 1993 WTC bombing.

TIBOR KALMAN, designer, adman, “editor,” Colors. For fun, and to sell things, he ran ads in which Queen Elizabeth was black and Spike Lee white.

ANDY KAUFMAN, comic. Reimagined Jewish humor surrealistically—or something.

MIKE KEENAN, coach, New York Rangers, 1994. He was kind of strange, but they hadn’t won for decades before he came and won’t again.

CALVIN KLEIN, designer, Latrell Sprewell interlocutor. Billboard pioneer made you look at the label. From Brooklyn.
Extra Bite >>>

ED KOCH, mayor, 1978–90. People thought he’d be the first Jewish president.

LARRY KRAMER, writer, aids activist. Because he squawked, people knew.

DR. MATHILDE KRIM, early aids activist. Announced to reluctant, small-minded world that “the political resistance to focusing attention on aids is due to homophobia, plain and simple.”

OSAMA BIN LADEN, terrorist. Impossible to look downtown without seeing his face in the void.

RALPH LAUREN, designer, garment macher. Polo is very nice and all, but someone killed Seventh Avenue, so we might as well j’accuse him.
Extra Bite >>>

SPIKE LEE, filmmaker, Knicks fan, sneaker purveyor. The defining buppie, movies display another New York.

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, photographer. Celebrity, but bigger, better.

WARNER LEROY, owner, Maxwell’s Plum, Tavern on the Green. The restaurant as mega–bar mitzvah locale.


DAVID LETTERMAN, talk-show host. Snarky N.Y. late-night alternative to all-American Jay. Extra Bite >>>

GEOFFREY LINDENAUER, Parking Violations scandal bagman, 1986. When he was done singing, Donnie Manes was dead, Stanley Friedman was in jail, and Ed Koch was on his way out as mayor.

JOHN LINDSAY, mayor, 1965–73. Last liberal patrician; also last mayor to take off his shirt in public.

FRANK LUCAS, gangster, heroin dealer. With Nicky Barnes, he ravaged Harlem, 1975.


MADONNA, club person, megastar. Big tease, dragged N.Y.-gay-underground style up with her. Extra Bite >>>

JACK MAPLE, deputy police commissioner. He wanted to stop crime. He did. Extra Bite >>>

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE, photographer. Critics said, “A strange alliance of Dionysian and Apollonian on the meeting ground of the human body.” Mapplethorpe said, “I felt an obligation.”

WYNTON MARSALIS, trumpeter, Lincoln Center jazz artistic director. Charlie Parker never raised $128 mil to build a jazz joint.

JAY MCINERNEY, novelist. For an instant, Gatsby’s world returned amid Bolivian marching powder and stuffed dogs at M.K.

KEITH MCNALLY, restaurateur. Odeon, Pastis, Balthazar. The N.Y. French bistro marches on, semi-hautely.

RUPERT MURDOCH, media magnate, owner, N.Y. Post. Came from Down Under with a (sometimes fun) right-wing truncheon.

JOHN CARDINAL O’CONNOR, head of New York archdiocese. Not afraid to blur the distinction between church and state from the St. Patrick’s pulpit.

JOSEPH PAPP, producer, Hair, A Chorus Line, Shakespeare in the Park. No one had a greater impact on theater here.

GEORGE PATAKI, governor. Once easy to ignore, now raising transit fare, slashing budgets, including 12 percent from already-beleaguered CUNY.

NORMAN PODHORETZ, neocon, author, “My Negro Problem.” No one played that old intellectual-waking-up-to-Communism saw like Big Norm. Altered many Upper West Side dinner conversations.


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