100 People Who Changed New York

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

Photo: AP Photos

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!
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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.
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Photo: AP

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.

Photo: AP

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

Photo: Corbis

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

Photo: AP Photos

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.

Designer Calvin Klein.Photo: Bettman Corbis

JOEY RAMONE, Ramone. Rock-and-roll revisioner, wore leather, no pinhead. Extra Bite >>>

REAL-ESTATE BUYER FOR NEW YORK UNIVERSITY. When they closed Julian’s Pool Hall to put up a dorm, it was a sad day.

LEN RIGGIO, chairman, Barnes & Noble. At least they haven’t taken over the 42nd Street library yet.
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PAT RILEY, coach, Knicks. Let Starks keep shooting but made Knicks a hot ticket again.

CHRIS ROCK, comic, filmmaker. Outta Bed-Stuy, C.R. caught black comedy up to Richard Pryor. Pootie Tang: a masterwork!

FELIX ROHATYN, financial fixer. Provided right smoke, mirrors to bail out city in 1975 fiscal crisis.

FREDERICK ROSE, philanthropist. Put up cash for new Hayden Planetarium, Jazz at Lincoln Center, main-library reading room, etc.

ABE ROSENTHAL, editor, New York Times. Made the newsroom a living hell, but did fatten paper with the “Weekend,” “Living,” “Home,” “Sports Monday,” and “Business Day” sections.

STEVE RUBELL, co-host, Studio 54. He owned the night.

HOWARD RUBENSTEIN, PR kingpin. Sidney Falco never learned hand-to-hand combat like this.

BARRY SCHECK, lawyer, co-head, Innocence Project. Proved the criminal-justice system doesn’t work. Whoops.

REBBE SCHNEERSON, Chabad Lubavitch leader, possible moshiach. His moral, political force field extended far beyond Crown Heights.

MARTIN SCORSESE, filmmaker. With Mean Streets, he demolished the staid New York television-based mise-en-scène. Now, you couldn’t see things too good, but they rocked.

Photo: Corbis

JERRY SEINFELD, star, Seinfeld. Post-Allen N.Y.-behavior modeler. Extra Bite >>>

FRANK SERPICO, cop, Knapp Commission whistle-blower, 1971. Breaking the blue wall takes a toll. Extra Bite >>>

ALBERT SHANKER, UFT president. Got money for his people, but with 1968 teachers’ strike, he seeded black-white liberal estrangement.

AL SHARPTON, activist, politician, boy-wonder preacher. For better or worse, the public face of black New York. Not MLK.

SAM SHEPARD, playwright, actor. Sexy innovator of downtown theater. Buried Child, Curse of the Starving Class: a big light, switched on.

NICKY SIANO, disco D.J. Claims to have invented the segue, at the Gallery in 1972. No reason not to believe him.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, owner, Def Jam Recordings. How to be a rap boss without killing anyone.

PATTI SMITH, rocker, poet. Electric bohemia for the post-Burroughs era.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM, theater colossus. Pulled Broadway from the fifties, never to return.

GEORGE SOROS, hedge-funder, philanthropist. Set new template for giving away money in globalized times.

ART SPIEGELMAN, cartoonist, art polemicist. Inventor of Wacky Packs, author of Maus, Spiegelman has politicked the comic strip to heroic proportions.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER, Yankees owner. The back page’s best friend.
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Photo: AP Photos

GLORIA STEINEM, founder, Ms. magazine. Fun feminist. Extra Bite >>>

HOWARD STERN, shock jock. Leering envelope pusher of the haw-haw a.m.

MARTHA STEWART, fin-de-siècle consumerist. Who cares what she’s done?! We need the cantaloupe granita!
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TAKI 183, graffiti artist. If you were on the 4 train in 1973, you know he changed New York.

DONALD TRUMP, fortunate son, builder, tabloid headline. Trump this, Trump that. The name itself is onomatopoeia.
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MIKE TYSON, boxer. Even before the face tattoo, Mike set thug street cred.

DIANA VREELAND, editor, taste arbiter. Dowager empress, a classic of rouged ears and black-polished hair.

DAVID WALENTAS, Dumbo developer. Used to be so nice and lonely down under that bridge underpass, too.

ANDY WARHOL, neo-renaissance culture visionary. His fifteen minutes never end.
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ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, touristical theater-mounter. New Times Square rode in behind the squatty blocking of Cats, Phantom. That’s Lord Lloyd Webber to you.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN, neo-maverick film producer. No him, no power omelette at Bubby’s.
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Photo: AP Photos

ANNA WINTOUR, editor, Vogue. Bringing fashionable chill to the masses.
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TOM WOLFE, author, wearer of white. If Sherman McCoy had read “The Me Generation,” he could have saved himself a lot of trouble.
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ANDREW WYLIE, literary agent. In the book jungle, no one cast a darker shadow, or raised the price scale, like the Jackal.

MINORU YAMASAKI, architect, World Trade Center. Finished 1976. Never beloved until they were gone, the Twin Towers etch into the heart with the force of archetype. Extra Bite >>>

100 People Who Changed New York