THE NEW YORK CITY 400
Image captions (from left to right, beginning at top): Edna St. Vincent Millay, Grandmaster Flash, Pete Hamill, Edward Koch, Nellie Bly, Berenice Abbott, Henry Hudson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Smith, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Moses, and Louis Auchincloss. Museum of the City of New York. Event photographs by Andrew Hinderaker
The NYC400 is the first-ever list of New York City's ultimate movers and shakers since the City's founding—from politics, the arts, business, sports, science, and entertainment.
In commemoration of Henry Hudson's epic 1609 voyage into New York Harbor, the Museum is celebrating our City's 400th birthday by recognizing the people who have had the greatest impact and influence on the world's greatest city.
Our goal in creating the NYC 400 is to help educate the public about New York City's fascinating and dramatic history—its heritage of diversity, opportunity and perpetual transformation—by humanizing our amazing common story.
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
Photographer best known for her "Changing New York" project for the WPA (1935-1939), which documented New York City's evolving built environment.
Alvin Ailey (1931-1989)
Dancer/choreographer who founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958 to bring black dancers into the mainstream. Known for combining elements of ballet, jazz, and modern dance and drawing on elements of black culture.
Horatio Alger (1832-1899)
Writer, philanthropist, and Unitarian minister who supported such charities as the Newsboys' Lodging House and wrote moralistic novels about street boys who eventually became wealthy through luck and hard work.
Woody Allen (1935- )
Comedian, filmmaker, writer, and musician best known for chronicling New Yorkers' neuroses and foibles in films such as Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979).
Othmar H. Ammann (1879-1965)
Engineer of bridges linking Manhattan to the outer boroughs and beyond, including the George Washington Bridge (1931), the Triborough (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge (1936), and the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge (1964).
Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
Photographer whose 1960s images of eccentrics and other often ignored people explored issues of identity and appearance. Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus, a Times Square freak show, was one of her favorite places to photograph.
Harold Arlen (1905-1986)
Singer, pianist, and composer of jazz and blues songs and ballads for Broadway musicals and shows at Harlem's Cotton Club. Best known for composing such songs as "Get Happy" (1929) and "Over The Rainbow" (1939).
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)
Trumpeter and singer who came to prominence in New York City as a major jazz influence in the 1920s. Known for hits like "What a Wonderful World" (1967) and his "Hot Fives" and "Hot Seven" recordings made between 1925-29.
Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886)
As a New York lawyer interested in civil rights cases, he represented a black woman in a successful suit against the Third Avenue Railway (1855), which helped end segregation on the city's passenger railroads. As President, he was the first since George Washington to take the oath of office in NYC.
Brooke Astor (1902-2007)
Socialite and philanthropist who from 1959-97 gave away the corpus of her late husband's foundation to New York City institutions, leading others in philanthropy. Known for her visits to each and every one of her grantees.
John Astor (1763-1848)
Immigrant fur trader who amassed a fortune in real estate and who, by the 1840s, was the country's wealthiest man. Astor Place and Astoria are named for him.
Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984)
Theater critic for The New York Times from 1925-60 and an influential voice in an era when American drama emerged as a serious art form.
Louis Auchincloss (1917- )
Attorney, essayist, and writer of historic fiction known for closely observed portraits of old, patrician New York society in such novels as Portrait in Brownstone (1962) and East Side Story (2004).
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter who was celebrated for his cataloging, describing, and visualizing of North American birds in Birds of America (1826). Audubon Terrace in northern Manhattan is named for him.
Richard Avedon (1923-2004)
Photographer who was best known for his fashion work in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue (beginning in the 1940s), but also for his fine art portraiture. In 1992, he became the first staff photographer of The New Yorker magazine.
Oswald Avery (1877-1955)
Physician who spent most of his career at Rockefeller University Hospital. A pioneer in immunochemistry, he shared the 1944 discovery of DNA with two colleagues.
Herman Badillo (1929- )
First Puerto Rican to be borough president (Bronx, 1966-70) and a voting member of the House of Representatives. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor several times in the 70s and 80s, and served as deputy mayor under Ed Koch from 1977-79.
George Balanchine (1904-1983)
Choreographer known for his work with the New York City Ballet where he adapted European classical ballets, like The Nutcracker (1954) and Coppelia (1974), for American audiences, and created original works like Jewels (1967) and Vienna Waltzes (1977).
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Harlem-born author and activist who explored racial and sexual identity in such books as Notes of a Native Son (1955) and The Fire Next Time (1963).
Roger Nash Baldwin (1884-1981)
Civil libertarian who joined the National Civil Liberties Bureau to defend conscientious objectors, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press during World War I and helped reorganize the CLB into the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1920.
P.T. (Phineas Taylor) Barnum (1810-1891)
Premier promoter and impresario of large-scale entertainments, he created the first three-ring circus in 1881, and opened the Barnum American Museum, the city's most successful dime museum, in 1841.
Alfred Barr, Jr. (1902-1981)
An art historian and the first director of the Museum of Modern Art (1929-43), he defined the history of modern art for a generation.
Charles M. Barras (1826-1873)
Actor-turned-playwright whose musical fantasy The Black Crook premiered at Niblo's Garden on Broadway in 1866 as the first modern musical.
John Barrymore (1882-1942)
Renowned stage and screen actor who first gained fame as a performer on Broadway in such classical works as Hamlet (1922) and Richard III (1920). A member of one of America's most famous theatrical dynasties.
Bernard Baruch (1870-1965)
He amassed a fortune as a stock market speculator, becoming a member of the governing committee of the New York Stock Exchange and one of Wall Street's best known financiers by 1910. Also served as an advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Harry S Truman.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Known for his graffiti-inspired art of the 1980s, he began his career spray painting on SoHo buildings but quickly gained renown for his Neo-expressionist paintings that often included written words and explored themes of racism and identity.
Romare Bearden (1911-1988)
Best known as an artist for his experiments with collage and mixed media in the 1950s and 60s, which were inspired by jazz and urban street life, he was also a costume and set designer, a journalist, and a political cartoonist.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
Congregationalist minister, reformer, and abolitionist; the first minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn. He was considered the most famous man in America in the mid-19th century.
Geoffrey Beene (1924-2004)
Fashion designer who worked for several fashion houses before opening his own 7th Avenue store in 1963. Known for his technical skills and clean cutting, he created simple, comfortable evening gowns and was also an innovator in women's sportswear.
David Belasco (1853-1931)
Playwright, director, and theatrical impresario who brought a high level of naturalism to the Broadway stage. He built the Belasco Theater on 44th Street in 1907.
George Bellows (1882-1925)
Artist and member of The Eight (sometimes called the “Ashcan School”), he studied at the New York School of Art in the early 1900s and was known for his bold, natural depictions of urban life.
August Belmont, Jr. (1853-1924)
Banker who founded (in 1902) and chaired (1907) the Interborough Rapid Transit Company to finance the construction and oversee operations of NYC's first subway line, the first segment of which ran between City Hall and 145th Street and opened in 1904.
James Gordon Bennett, Sr. (1795-1872)
Pioneer of American popular journalism. Launched the New York Herald in 1835, a successful "penny paper" which covered crime and scandal, was the first to publish a newspaper interview, and the first to require advertisers to pay in advance for space.
Henry Bergh (1811-1888)
Co-founder of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1875) and an animal welfare activist who helped pass the first laws against animal cruelty and founded the ASPCA in 1866.
Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
Songwriter, Broadway composer, and Tin Pan Alley stalwart whose 1,000-plus songs include "White Christmas" (1942) and "God Bless America" (1918), as well as NYC-themed hits like "Puttin' on the Ritz" (1930) and "Harlem on My Mind" (1933).
Edward L. Bernays (1891-1995)
An executive and pioneer in the field of public relations, he started as a press agent on Broadway, opened his own agency in 1919, and taught the first course on public relations at New York University in 1923.
William Bernbach (1911-1982)
Revolutionized the advertising industry by combining copywriters and art directors into a single team. Co-founder of the agency Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1949, the creator of such innovative campaigns as 1960s "Think Small" for the Volkswagen Beetle.
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Musician who linked high and popular culture. Conductor of the New York City Symphony and co-conductor and musical director of the New York Philharmonic. Composer of operas, symphonies, and such Broadway musicals as West Side Story (1957).
Sherman Billingsley (1900-1966)
Gatekeeper and promoter of celebrity culture as the proprietor of the legendary Stork Club, which served as a symbol of café society from 1929 to 1965.
Eubie Blake (1887-1983)
Composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music who, along with Noble Sissle, wrote Shuffle Along, the first hit musical on Broadway written by and about African Americans, in 1921.
Bill Blass (1922-2002)
Designer who brought the comfort and simplicity of sportswear into the realm of formal dressing and who is credited as one of the creators of a true "American style." He opened his own company, Bill Blass Limited, in New York City in 1970.
Michael R. Bloomberg (1942- )
Founder of Bloomberg L.P., philanthropist and Mayor since 2002, he is credited with leading the city's financial rebound after 9/11, and with programs to spark the city's continued growth, including sustainability, economic development, and fiscal management.
Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
Journalist for the New York World in the 1880s whose assignments included feigning insanity for an exposé of asylums, going undersea in a diving bell, ascending in a hot air balloon, and circling the globe in 72 days.
Franz Boas (1858-1942)
Pioneering anthropologist, curator, and Columbia University professor (1896-1936) credited with making New York City the center of American anthropology in the beginning of the 20th century.
James Bogardus (1800-1874)
Engineer and inventor known for pioneering cast-iron architecture in the US, a technique first used in Lower Manhattan in 1848-49. The innovation meant lighter-weight materials, standardized construction, and increased window size (which allowed businesses to display wares in storefront windows).
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)
Pioneering photojournalist who became editor of Fortune magazine in 1929 and was the first female photographer to be hired by Life magazine in 1935.
Mathew Brady (1822-1896)
New York-based photographer noted for his portraits of celebrities and politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln, and Civil War images. In 1856 he created the first modern advertisement in the New York Herald by using a typeface distinct from the paper's text.
Fannie Brice (1891-1951)
First female Yiddish comedian to succeed in mainstream musical comedy and radio; best known for performances parodying high society in such Broadway revues as the Ziegfeld Follies (1910-30s). The subject of the stage and film musical Funny Girl.
Jonas Bronck (About 1600 -1643)
Scandinavian-born sailor who arrived in New Netherland as an employee of the Dutch West India Company in 1639 and later settled in the area (the Bronx) that is named after him.
Henry Sands Brooks (1839-1893)
Founder in 1818 of Brooks Brothers, one of the first men's clothing retailers to offer both custom and ready made clothes.
Mel Brooks (1926- )
Humorist who brought Borscht Belt comedy to early New York City-based television shows, such as Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner. Later career flowered into film and theater, most notably The Producers (1968).
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
Poet, journalist, and civic leader who, as editor of the New York Evening Post from 1828-78, advocated for abolition of slavery, public parks, and public health.
William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)
Author, editor, and columnist who helped elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse. Founder of the National Review in 1955 and its editor-in-chief until 1990 and host of TV's Firing Line from 1966-99.
Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990)
Architect of Park Avenue's metal and glass Lever House (1952), a pioneering example of post-World War II corporate modernism.
Aaron Burr (1756-1836)
NYS attorney general and Assemblyman and a US Senator and Vice President. A founder of the Bank of the Manhattan Company in 1799, the second bank in NYC. He shot and killed political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804.
Stephen Burrows (1943- )
Fashion designer whose Stephen Burrows' World boutique at Henri Bendel and subsequent triumph at the 1973 fashion show in Versailles made him the first African-American designer to achieve international renown. Best known for unstructured designs and innovative use of color.
Ebenezer Butterick (1826-1903)
Manufacturer whose company was the first to produce dressmaking patterns in 1863 in a variety of sizes for well-fitting, fashionable clothes for a class of women who could not afford custom made clothing.
John Cage (1912-1992)
Avant garde composer whose music, including many scores for choreographer Merce Cunningham, was influenced by eastern philosophy and included nonstandard use of musical instruments. Known for 4'33" (1952), a completely silent work.
James Cagney (1899-1986)
Irish-American actor raised on the Upper East Side, he attended Stuyvesant High School and Columbia College before turning to Broadway, where he appeared in such shows as Penny Arcade (1929), and film. A consummate New Yorker, he even spoke Yiddish.
Abraham Cahan (1860-1951)
Editor, writer, and political leader who launched the Yiddish newspaper the Forverts (Jewish Daily Forward) in 1903, which soon became the largest Yiddish-language daily in the world. Also known for his immigrant novel The Rise of David Levinsky (1917).
Cab Calloway (1907-1994)
Singer and bandleader whose band, which premiered at Harlem's Cotton Club in 1931, was one of the most successful of the swing era. Known for songs like "Minnie the Moocher" (1931) that celebrate the nightlife and street culture of New York City.
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Author and social figure whose 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (and character Holly Golightly) epitomized New York as a place for self-invention.
Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938)
Prominent NYC lawyer known for his influence on the development of common law in the 20th century and for balancing legal precedent with the need to adapt the law to social change. He served 18 years on the NY Court of Appeals (1914-32), as well as serving on the US Supreme Court.
Hugh L. Carey (1919- )
Served seven terms in Congress and two terms as Governor of NYS (1975-82). Credited with stepping in to solve the city's fiscal crisis in the late 1970s and known for such building development projects as Battery Park City and South Street Seaport.
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
Industrialist who formed the Carnegie Corporation in 1911 to endow or fund many philanthropic causes, including 39 public libraries in NYC and the Cooper-Hewitt (housed in his Fifth Avenue mansion since 1972). Built Carnegie Hall in 1891.
Willis Carrier (1876-1950)
Engineer and inventor of the first large-scale electrical air conditioning system in 1902, with the addition of a humidity control function. The Carrier Corporation was founded in 1915 and revolutionized productivity and comfort in the workplace.
Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
Activist who organized the New York City Women's Suffrage Party in 1909 and served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which became, after passage of the 19th amendment, the League of Women Voters in 1920.
Bennett Cerf (1898-1971)
A writer and publisher who graduated from Columbia University, he founded the publishing houses Modern Library (1925) and Random House (1927), serving as director of both for the next forty years, as well as authoring 20 books.
Henry Chadwick (1824-1908)
Cricket and baseball editor for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1845-1900). Developed the box score method of keeping statistics. Edited baseball's rulebook, the Beadle Baseball Player (1860-81). Known to many as the "Father of Baseball."
William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
Painter recognized as an exponent of American impressionism. Founder of the Chase School, now Parsons The New School for Design, in 1896.
John William Cheever (1912-1982)
Novelist and short story writer whose stories of the American middle class were often set in the Upper East Side. The Stories of John Cheever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Brooklyn-born politician, educator, and author. First African-American woman elected to Congress, where she served seven terms from 1969 to 1983, and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination (1972).
DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828)
Mayor who supported the Commissioners Plan of 1811--Manhattan's grid extending from 14th Street to Upper Manhattan. A promoter of the Erie Canal, who later served as Governor and presided over the opening of the Erie and Champlain canals in 1825.
George M. Cohan (1878-1942)
Singer, actor, composer, producer, and playwright who wrote and produced (and also often appeared in) Broadway plays and musicals in the 1920s. Known for the songs "Give My Regards to Broadway" (1904) and "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1904).
John Coltrane (1926-1967)
Saxophonist and composer who was a key figure in the jazz avant garde of the 1960s. Known for his dissonant free jazz compositions and long solos performed on the soprano saxophone.
Sean "Diddy" Combs (1969- )
Rapper, producer, actor, fashion designer, and businessman who used his success in the music industry as a platform to launch Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide in the 1990s, which oversees his other entrepreneurial ventures.
Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Comden 1917-2006; Green 1914-2002)
Musical comedy duo of the 1930s and 40s whose 60-year collaboration produced lyrics and screenplays for many Broadway and film musicals, including On the Town (1944), featuring the classic lyrics "New York, New York, it's a helluva town."
Anthony Comstock (1844-1915)
Formed the NY Society for the Suppression of Vice (1873) to regulate public morality. Advocated for the Comstock Law (1873), which outlawed postal delivery of "obscene" materials. Raided the Art Students League in 1906 to confiscate paintings of nudes.
Peter Cooper (1791-1883)
Inventor, politician, and philanthropist who built the country's first fully functional steam engine and founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art to provide free education to gifted students from the working class.
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Influential composer whose dissonant, jazz-infused works of the 1920s gave way to a focus on rural America and folklore in the 1930s-40s, including ballet scores for Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944), which was commissioned by Martha Graham.
Richard Croker (1843-1922)
Irish-born politician who served as a city alderman, coroner, and Fire Commissioner before becoming a Tammany Hall boss who controlled the Democratic Party in New York City from 1886 to 1901.
Xavier Cugat (1900-1990)
Bandleader and singer known as the "Rumba King" who helped popularize Latin music in America. His orchestra was the resident band at the Waldorf-Astoria (1930s-40s) and performed in several feature films and on the radio.
Countee Cullen (1903-1946)
Poet and novelist who won a Guggenheim fellowship to travel in France, where he wrote Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Back in New York, he taught English at Frederick Douglass Junior High School.
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)
Avant garde choreographer who danced in Martha Graham's company and later collaborated with composer John Cage. Formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1953), which included painters, musicians, and members of other art disciplines.
Mario Cuomo (1932- )
Born and educated in Queens, he was first famous for his legal representation of citizens protesting public housing in Forest Hills. Later ran for Mayor and was elected Governor, where he was a proponent of social welfare and a foe of the death penalty.
Charles Anderson Dana (1819-1897)
Newspaper editor and publisher who joined the New York Tribune (1847) and later bought and became chief editor of the Sun (1868). His style of colorful human interest stories and eye-catching headlines prefigured the practice known as "yellow journalism."
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
Trumpeter and bandleader who played with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in Harlem nightclubs like Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's in the 1940s, before starting his own nine-member jazz group. An originator of the "hard bop" of the 1950s.
Stuart Davis (1892-1964)
Early modernist painter and member of the Ashcan School known for his jazz influenced, pre-pop art paintings of the 1940s and 50s. Under the Federal Art Project he painted murals for the Williamsburg Housing Project and WNYC radio station.
Benjamin Day (1810-1889)
Newspaper publisher and editor who launched the Sun (1833), which reached the highest circulation of any daily newspaper in the United States. Also established the practice of using newsboys to distribute the paper.
Dorothy Day (1897-1980)
Social activist who converted to Catholicism and founded the Catholic Worker, a monthly newspaper based in New York City, in 1933, which influenced generations of Catholic social activists.
Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)
Painter and leader of the New York City School of abstract expressionist artists in the mid 1950s.
Frank De Martini and Pablo Ortiz (1952-2001)
Port Authority workers who enabled at least fifty people to escape by prying open doors, clearing rubble, and providing direction in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. They perished and represent the many heroes of that horrific day.
Elsie de Wolfe (1865-1950)
First lady of American interior design whose projects included the decoration of J. Pierpont Morgan's box at the Metropolitan Opera and who counted prominent New Yorkers like Anne Vanderbilt and Henry Clay Frick among her clients.
Thomas E. Dewey (1902-1971)
As a District Attorney of NY County, earned national renown for prosecuting organized crime, including the notorious syndicate Murder, Inc. Served as Governor of NYS from 1943-54 and ran unsuccessfully for President in 1944 and 1948.
Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999)
Hall of Fame center fielder for the New York Yankees (1936-51). Career batting average of .325, with 361 home runs. Was selected for 13 All-Star Games and played in ten World Series. Known for his grace on the field and dignity off it.
Thomas Dongan (1634-1715)
Appointed Governor of New York by James, Duke of York in 1682. Encouraged religious toleration and approved a "Charter of Liberties" known as the Dongan Charter in 1686 to establish such rights as the freedom to worship, but which was soon nullified.
W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois (1868-1963)
Author, intellectual, and civil rights leader. Served as director of publicity and research in New York City for the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1910-48) and editor of its Crisis magazine.
David Dubinsky (1892-1982)
Labor leader who, as president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, secured a 35-hour work week, demanded action against organized racketeering in unions, and was a force behind the Liberal Party.
Douglas Durst (1944- )
Real estate developer and scion of a respected real estate family whose recent buildings, including 4 Times Square and One Bryant Park, have embraced the cause of sustainability.
Charles Ebbets (1859-1925)
President of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1898-1925) who built Ebbets Field, the team's home from 1913 to 1957.
Frederick Ecker (1867-1964)
Worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance for 80 years. While serving as chairman, he expanded the company into real estate development, building Parkchester, Stuyvesant Town, and Peter Cooper Village in the 1940s.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
Inventor of the incandescent electric light and power system (1878). Created the nation's first commercial electric-power generation and distribution station in Manhattan in 1882. Also pioneered motion picture and audio technology.
Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
Bandleader, composer, and pianist known for his "big band" sound, whose jazz band worked at venues like the Hollywood on West 49th Street and the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 1920s and 30s.
Ralph Ellison (1913-1994)
Scholar and writer about the universality of human experience who is best known for his novel Invisible Man (1952) about an unnamed black man’s search for identity in 1940s New York City.
Barbara Epstein (1928-2006)
Literary editor who rose to prominence at Doubleday as the editor of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl and later was a founding co-editor of The New York Review of Books in 1963.
Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006)
Music industry mogul who, in 1947, co-founded and served as executive of Atlantic Records in New York. Credited (with frequent partner Jerry Wexler) with bringing rhythm & blues to the center of American popular music and African-American artists into the mainstream.
James Reese Europe (1881-1919)
Jazz and ragtime bandleader, composer, and arranger who was a key figure on the African-American music scene of New York City in the 1910s. As a member of the World War I "Harlem Hellfighters" in France, helped introduce American jazz to Europe.
James Marston Fitch (1900-2000)
Architect, author, and educator. A key figure in launching the modern preservation movement of the 1950s and a founder of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University (1964).
Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)
Jazz vocalist known as the "First Lady of Song" who got her start at the Harlem Opera House in 1934 and is known for her purity of tone and improvisational, or scat, singing and her 1950s and 60s recordings of the Great American Songbook.
Wong Chin Foo (1851-1892)
Newspaperman and civic leader who criticized American missionaries for making false claims about the plight of the Chinese in order to raise money and who launched Chinese language newspapers in New York and Chicago.
Edwin Forrest (1806-1872)
The first American-born actor to achieve international fame, he debuted in Othello in 1826 and performed often at the Park and Bowery theaters. His rivalry with an English actor led to the bloody Astor Place Riot in 1849.
Harry Fosdick (1878-1969)
Baptist minister and writer who, with financing from John D. Rockefeller Jr., founded the interdenominational Riverside Church in 1930 to provide a pulpit for his nonsectarian and interracial ideals.
Bob Fosse (1927-1987)
Choreographer and director of musical theater and film, including such productions as Chicago (stage, 1975) and Cabaret (film, 1972). Known for his jazz dance style, he won nine Tony awards for his Broadway work in choreography and direction.
Robert Frank (1924- )
Photographer and filmmaker who got his start as a fashion photographer and photojournalist in New York City. He is best known for his depictions of post-war American culture, which influenced several generations of artists.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier (1945- )
New York Knicks Hall of Fame point guard 1967-77, who scored an average of 19.3 points per game with the Knicks (career: 18.9) and led the team to its only NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973. Known for his stylish attire and for Puma Clydes (one of the first athlete-endorsed sneakers).
Alan Freed (1921-1965)
Disc jockey sometimes known as "Moondog," credited with popularizing the term "rock and roll." He worked at several New York radio stations in the 1950s but his career was ruined in a payola scandal in the early 1960s.
Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919)
Industrialist and art patron whose Fifth Avenue mansion, built in 1913, now serves as an art museum and houses the Frick Collection, one of the premier collections of European paintings in New York and America.
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
Feminist crusader who wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and shaped the 1960s women's movement. Helped found the National Organization for Women in 1966.
Robert Fulton (1765-1815)
Engineer and inventor who started the world's first commercially successful passenger steamboat line in 1807, running between New York City and Albany.
Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)
Black nationalist leader who advanced a Pan-African philosophy and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League in Jamaica in 1914, inaugurating the New York City Division in 1917.
Margot Gayle (1908-2008)
Author and preservationist whose determined efforts helped save the cast-iron architecture of SoHo and Tribeca in the 1960s and 70s.
Lou (Henry Louis) Gehrig (1903-1941)
Hall of Fame first baseman for the New York Yankees (1923-39) who led the team to six World Series championships. His retirement ended a streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.
Kitty (Catherine) Genovese (1935-1964)
A 28 year-old working woman. She was attacked and murdered on March 13, 1964 in Kew Gardens, Queens. Her death, reportedly witnessed by 38 people who did not come to her aid, galvanized attention as a symbol of the inhumanity of modern urban life.
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Pianist and composer of vocal and theatrical works for Broadway and the classical concert hall. Collaborated with his brother Ira as lyricist. Best known for such works as Porgy and Bess (1935) and An American in Paris (1928).
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Poet and painter who wrote for the city's Syrian press in the early 20th century. In 1920, joined with other Syrian-Lebanese writers to form the literary circle al-Rabitah al-Qalamiyya (the Pen League). Best known as the author of The Prophet (1923).
Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944)
Graphic artist who invented the Gibson Girl, an iconic representation of the independent and beautiful American woman at the turn of the 20th century.
Cass Gilbert (1859-1934)
Architect of the landmark Woolworth Building, the tallest building in the world upon its completion in 1913 and arguably New York's first skyscraper, as well as other New York landmarks.
Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)
Trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who was instrumental in the development of the "bop" style of big band music in the 1940s. Led small jazz bands in New York City from the 1940s to 1970s and composed several definitive bop themes.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Central figure in the Beat movement, and of the anti-war, drug-oriented counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. Published Howl and Other Poems (1956), which shocked readers with depictions of homosexuality and drug use.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933- )
Jurist, second female Associate Justice and the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court, appointed in 1993. An advocate for the equal citizenship status of women and men as a constitutional principle.
Rudolph Giuliani (1944- )
As US Attorney (1983-89) he prosecuted organized crime; as Mayor (1994-2001), he is credited with reducing crime in the city in the 1990s and gained national renown after the events of 9/11.
Jackie Gleason (1916-1987)
Tony Award-winning actor of the stage and screen. Best known for his comic role as Ralph Kramden on the 1950s hit television series The Honeymooners, set in a Brooklyn tenement.
E.L. (Edwin Lawrence) Godkin (1831-1902)
Editor of The Nation and then of the New York Evening Post who was known for his humorous writing style, opposition to Tammany Hall, and belief in laissez-faire economics. He may have invented the phrase "robber baron" in reference to Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940)
Lithuanian-born anarchist who dominated the radical movement in New York City from 1890 until she was deemed dangerous and deported in 1919. As a feminist, she advocated the emancipation of women, birth control, and sexual freedom.
Samuel Gompers (1850-1924)
Labor leader and founder of the American Federation of Labor (he served as its president from 1886-94 and 1895-1924). Influenced the development of collective bargaining procedures and contracts between workers and management that are still in use today.
Jay Gould (1836-1892)
Financier who, by 1880, controlled 10,000 miles of US railway, including NYC elevated railways. Speculator who caused the Panic (Black Friday) of 1869 and a colleague of Boss Tweed; provided one million dollars in bail for the Tammany leader.
Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler) (1958- )
Founding father of hip hop who, building on the work of DJ Kool Herc, in the early 1970s was the first disc jockey to use the turntable as his instrument. His group Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five was among the first to add rap lyrics over these beats.
Martha Graham (1894-1991)
Modern dancer and choreographer who founded the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1926 and whose 181 works were stark, abstract, and often focused on serious issues such as the Spanish Civil War and the Great Depression.
Horace Greeley (1811-1872)
Editor who launched the New York Tribune (1841), the first daily Whig paper in the city. He advocated protectionism, abolition, and the Homestead Act, and endorsed workers' cooperatives, unions, and the ten-hour work day. Ran unsuccessfully for president on the Liberal Republican ticket in 1872.
Andrew Haswell Green (1820-1903)
City planner and urban leader who masterminded the 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs into Greater New York.
Hetty (Henrietta Howland Robinson) Green (1834-1916)
Shrewd and frugal investor known as the "Witch of Wall Street" who on several occasions came to the city's aid, as when she lent $1.1 million to keep the city afloat during the Panic of 1907.
Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-1949)
Philanthropist and art collector who established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1937 to foster an appreciation of modern art. The Foundation has created a global network of museums including the Guggenheim museum in New York (1959).
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)
Singer, songwriter and activist who penned hundreds of political, traditional, and children's songs. Best known for "This Land Is Your Land" (1940).
Pete Hamill (1935- )
Brooklyn-born journalist and author. Began as a reporter for the New York Post, later became editor in chief for it and the Daily News. His work includes nine novels, short stories, nonfiction, and many articles. Journalism, he says, is history in a hurry.
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
Served as a lieutenant colonel for George Washington, a delegate to the Continental Congress (1782-83) and the Constitutional Convention (1787), helped form the Bank of New York (1784) and became the first US Secretary of the Treasury (1789-95).
James Hamlet (c. 1822-?)
Slave who was captured in Brooklyn in 1850 and returned to Baltimore under the Fugitive Slave Act. The New York Vigilance Committee brought him back to New York for $800 and 5,000 people showed up at a rally celebrating his return.
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960)
Lyricist of the Rodgers and Hammerstein duo whose golden-age Broadway musicals include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.
Nathan Handwerker (1892-1974)
Restaurateur who with his wife Ida opened Nathan's hot dog stand on Surf Avenue in Coney Island in 1916, reportedly at the urging of Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor, and later developed the Nathan's Famous brand of hot dogs.
Keith Haring (1958-1990)
Artist and activist who was an important cultural figure of the 1980s, known for his graffiti-inspired art such as the anti-crack mural Crack Is Wack at 128th Street and Second Avenue.
James Harper (1795-1896)
Publisher and co-founder of Harper Brothers. Elected Mayor of New York in 1844 on an anti-immigrant platform. While in office, he formed the Municipal Police, or Night and Day Watch, one of the nation's first organized police forces.
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)
Media mogul who bought the Morning Journal (later the Journal-American) in 1896, beat all competition with “yellow journalism," and eventually built a publishing empire that included 20 daily newspapers and half a dozen magazines.
Harry Helmsley (1909-1997)
Real estate tycoon whose property holdings were among the largest in the US and included the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building, invented the concept of syndication with his investment partner Lawrence Wein.
Sidney Hillman (1887-1946)
President of Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America 1914-46, he advocated for “constructive cooperation” between workers and employers and collective bargaining. He advised President Roosevelt on labor and social welfare legislation.
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Jazz singer who began her career in Harlem nightclubs in the 1930s, recorded and toured with the likes of Count Basie and Benny Goodman, and later performed at the Onyx Club and Carnegie Hall. Best known for the song "Lady Sings the Blues."
Clifford Millburn Holland (1883-1924)
First chief engineer of the Holland Tunnel, which was the longest underwater tunnel in the world when completed. Developed the ventilating system that made vehicular tunnels possible.
Philip Hone (1780-1851)
Merchant and diarist who served one term as mayor but who is best known for his diary of New York City political and social events, one of the most extensive and detailed personal records of his era.
Harry Hopkins (1890-1946)
Political adviser who headed New York State's Depression-era Temporary Emergency Relief Association (1931-33), providing work for thousands of unemployed New Yorkers and later led the Federal Emergency Relief and Works Progress Administrations.
Harry Howard (1822-1896)
As Chief Engineer of the New York City Volunteer Fire Department in 1857, established the bunk system requiring firemen to sleep in the station house and advocated for a paid Fire Department (organized in 1865).
Henry Hudson (D. 1611)
English explorer whose unsuccessful attempts to find a northwest passage to the Spice Islands led him to New York Harbor and the Hudson River in 1609 while sailing for the Dutch East India Company.
Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948)
Lawyer and Reform Governor of NYS (1907-10) who helped pass important anti-corruption legislation in his efforts to stop corporate influence on the civil services. Ran unsuccessfully for president (1916) and also served as a Supreme Court Justice on two separate occasions.
John Cardinal Hughes (1797-1864)
Appointed the first Archbishop of New York in 1850, founded four Catholic colleges, fought anti-Catholicism, built St. Patrick's Cathedral, and was nicknamed “Dagger John” both for his style and for the cross he drew with his signature.
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer and columnist who was one of the earliest innovators of jazz poetry and a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His work centers on working-class African-American life.
Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895)
First American architect trained at the Ã‰cole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, designed 5th Avenue mansions, the base of the Statue of Liberty (1886), and key elements of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1902), and founded the American Institute of Architects.
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Folklorist, novelist, and prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Studied with Franz Boas at Barnard College. Best known work is Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).
Ada Louise Huxtable (1921- )
The first and highly influential architecture critic of the New York Times who served from 1963-82. She championed high design standards and preservation and was the first winner, in 1970, of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Washington Irving (1783-1859)
Essayist and short story writer who gave the city the nickname Gotham and whose fictional character Diedrich Knickerbocker, a man of flamboyance and Dutch lineage, shaped the city's identity in the early 19th century.
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006)
Grass roots organizer based in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. An advocate for neighborhood preservation in planning for the future of New York and beyond.
Charles James (1906-1978)
Fashion designer who opened a custom-order shop in New York in 1940, his innovative designs attracted fashionable clientele such as Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr. All original designs, his dresses and gowns were considered works of art.
John Jay (1745-1829)
A founding father of the nation and author of five articles in The Federalist Papers, he drafted NYS' first constitution, served as its first Chief Justice (and first US Supreme Court Chief) and was a popular Governor of NYS who retired from public life in 1801.
Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) (1969- )
Grammy-award winning rap and hip-hop artist and businessman. Founded Roc-A-Fella records (1996) and the clothing line Rocawear (1999). He is the first non-athlete to endorse a "signature" shoe: the S. Carter.
John Bloomfield Jervis (1795-1885)
Civil engineer and designer of railways, canals, and bridges, he masterminded NYC's first water supply system, building the Croton Aqueduct, the Croton Dam and the reservoir--an astonishing feat of city planning.
Philip Johnson (1906-2005)
Curator of an exhibition, The International Style at MoMA (1932), that introduced modernism to New York, and later an architect, he collaborated on the Seagram Building (1956), completed the Master Plan for Lincoln Center, and designed the NYS Theater.
Abraham Kazan (1889-1971)
Pioneered non-profit cooperative housing to ameliorate bad housing conditions. As President of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, created Amalgamated Housing in the Bronx in 1927 and inspired many other affordable housing cooperatives in the city.
Elia Kazan (1909-2003)
Renowned stage and film director who created the Actors Studio, he cultivated both Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and actors Marlon Brando and James Dean. However, he "named names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.
Robert (Bobby) Kennedy (1925-1968)
One-term US Senator and civil rights champion, he was assassinated while campaigning for President in 1968.
Willem Kieft (1597-1647)
Director of New Netherland (1638-47) whose attempts to tax, and eventually drive out, the Native Americans led to a bloody series of battles known as Kieft's War (1643-45), for which he was fired by the Dutch West India Company.
Lincoln Kirstein (1907-1996)
Writer, critic, curator, and arts promoter, most significantly of the New York City Ballet with choreographer George Balanchine.
Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. (1892-1984)
With his wife Blanche in 1915 founded what became one of New York's and America's premier book publishers, publishing fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and cookbooks.
Edward Koch (1924- )
Mayor who restored financial stability to the city after the economic crisis of the 1970s and who is known for his colorful personality and outspoken independence.
Larry Kramer (1935- )
Playwright, novelist, AIDS activist, and gay community leader who helped found the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ActUp) (1987). His collected speeches were published as Reports from the Holocaust (1989).
Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947)
Charismatic reformer, the irrepressible three-term mayor led the city out of the grips of Tammany Hall and out of the Great Depression. He marshalled federal funding to create jobs and new housing, and reformed the civil service.
John Lamb (1735-1800)
Member of the Sons of Liberty, who early in the American Revolution seized British military stores at Turtle Bay. Later was a prominent anti-federalist opposing the US Constitution.
Thomas William Lamont (1870-1948)
Banker renowned for solving international financial crises in the post-World War I era and partner in J.P. Morgan's bank. Established internationally accepted system of drafts known as travelers' checks.
Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943)
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1930. Classified the blood of human beings into the now well-known A, B, AB, and O groups. At Rockefeller Institute, studied bleeding in newborns, leading to the discovery of the Rh-factor.
Meyer Lansky (1902-1983)
Powerful mobster in the first half of the 20th century who grew up on the Lower East Side and who, with Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel, controlled the National Crime Syndicate, their gambling interests extending from Cuba to Las Vegas.
Estée Lauder (1908-2004)
Born in Corona, Queens, and recognized for her business acumen, she created within her lifetime a global cosmetic and perfume empire. Estée Lauder, the company, was created in 1935.
Ralph Lauren (1939- )
Bronx-born, a graduate of Talmudic High School and a Baruch College drop out, Lauren started out with a necktie store in 1967 and became a fashion designer of wealth and renown selling a lifestyle image of classic taste.
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
Poet and translator; her sonnet The New Colossus--"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free"-- is mounted inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Fred Lebow (1932-1994)
Avid road runner and creator of the New York City Marathon. He transformed the marathon from a small race with 55 finishers in 1970 to one of the largest marathons in the world and a citywide celebration.
Spike (Shelton Jackson) Lee (1957- )
Director, writer, actor, and producer of such provocative films as Do the Right Thing (1989) and Malcolm X (1992), which explore race relations, crime, and poverty. His first feature film, shot for $175,000, grossed over $7 million at the box office.
Tsung-Dao Lee (1926- )
Columbia University professor and winner in 1957, at the age of 30, with C.N. Yang, of the Nobel Prize in Physics, the second youngest Nobel laureate for pioneering work on nuclear particles.
Abraham Lefcourt (1877-1932)
Prominent real estate developer of the 1920s. Prolific builder of commercial Art Deco buildings in Midtown. His Lefcourt Clothing Center became the anchor of the new Garment District, where he was a key developer.
Samuel J. Lefrak (1918-2003)
Brooklyn-born Lefrak started working in real estate with his father at the age of eight and later created an empire, developing Lefrak City in Queens, a project at Battery Park City and many more. His motto: Work conquers all.
Herbert Lehman (1878-1963)
The first Jewish governor of New York entered politics in the 1920s. He also served in the US Senate and fought for progressive social policies while challenging Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Henry, Emanuel, and Mayer Lehman
German immigrant brothers who traded dry goods and helped form the NY Cotton Exchange, the first exchange to trade commodity futures. Their commodity brokerage company would eventually become the investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Jacob Leisler (1640-1691)
German-born colonist who, as lieutenant governor of New York, led “Leisler’s Rebellion” supporting Protestant succession in England. Convened the first intercolonial congress. Executed for treason against William and Mary, his name was cleared in 1695.
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe (Lerner 1918-86; Loewe 1901-88)
Tony Award-winning musical comedy writing team (Lerner as lyricist and librettist; Loewe as composer) who created the scores for such Broadway classics as My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960).
Frank Leslie (1821-1880)
Engraver, illustrator, and journalist who is best known for his illustrations of Civil War battlefields. In 1855 he created Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, which lasted until 1922, and a number of other well known illustrated family periodicals.
Helen Levitt (1913-2009)
A Bensonhurst, Brooklyn native and self-educated photographer whose work is much aligned with Walker Evans; her street photography are lyrical records of everyday New Yorkers.
Maya Lin (1959- )
Artist and architect, best known for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL, and the new Museum of Chinese in America in New York City.
John V. Lindsay (1921-2000)
As US Congressman from 1959-65 and Mayor of NYC from 1966-73, Lindsay's tenure was during a time of social and political tumult. Credited with calming social tensions, he is also famous for lapses in snow cleanup in Queens and fiscal management.
Robert R. Livingston (1746-1813)
One of the five drafters of the Declaration of Independence. Administered the oath of office to George Washington on the steps of Federal Hall in NYC. Conducted negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase. Financed Fulton's experiments, which led to the first steam boat.
Seth Low (1850-1916)
Two term mayor of Brooklyn, second mayor of consolidated New York. As President of Columbia University, moved the school from midtown and expanded the school in Morningside Heights, realizing his vision of a fully integrated urban institution.
Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905)
Raised in Staten Island, a social worker and reformer who created the New York Consumers League in 1890 to improve wages and working conditions for women. First woman appointee to the NY Charities Commission, she wrote broadly on welfare topics.
Henry R. Luce (1898-1967)
Publisher who created the modern news magazine, with pictorial reporting, including some of the most successful and widely read magazines in American history, including Time (1923), Fortune (1929), Life (1936), and Sports Illustrated (1954).
Edward A. MacDougall (1874-1944)
Developer who led the syndicate of bankers and realtors comprising the Queensboro Realty Corp., which developed Jackson Heights as a garden suburb.
R. H. (Rowland Hussey) Macy (1822-1877)
Founded retail giant R.H. Macy & Co. In 1858, the store was only 17 x 40 feet, but by the 1870s had expanded to 11 adjacent storefronts selling clothing, home furnishings and more. The store at 34th St., built in 1902, bills itself as the world's largest.
Norman Mailer (1923-2007)
Novelist and co-founder of the Village Voice (1955), his use of literary techniques in non-fiction writing was a precursor to New Journalism. He gained fame for his first novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948). The Armies of the Night (1968) won a Pulitzer.
Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Political and religious leader, who denounced non-violence and integration; his teachings and his 1965 book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X influenced the Black Power movement of the 1960s. He was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in 1965.
Mary "Typhoid Mary" Mallon (1870-1938)
The first identified healthy carrier of typhoid fever, she worked as a cook in New York City despite several forcible quarantines by public health officials and is known to have infected at least 53 people. Her case brought attention to the need for public policy guidelines on outbreaks of infection and disease.
Joseph François Mangin (1794-1818)
Architect who (with John McComb Jr.) won an 1802 competition to design New York's City Hall (constructed from 1803-1811). New York's City Hall is the nation's oldest City Hall that still houses its original governmental functions.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
Social realist painter and illustrator, known for depictions of crowded street scenes. He became a cartoonist for the Daily News in 1922, and created murals for New York's Custom House in 1937 as part of the Treasury Relief Art Program (TARP).
José MartÃ (1853-1895)
Poet, revolutionary, and supporter of Cuban nationalism who lived and wrote in New York for nearly 30 years; edited La Patria Libre, the newspaper of the Cuban Revolutionary party and formed La Liga, to promote the rights of black Cubans and Puerto Ricans.
Ward Samuel McAllister (1827-1895)
Created the original list of "the 400" in the late 19th century, referring to the social elite of New York City society--the 400 people who really mattered, and supposedly the number of people who could fit in the ballroom of Mrs. Caroline Astor.
Alexander McDougall (c. 1731-1786)
Merchant and soldier, jailed for speaking out against the British and a major general in the Continental Army (1777). He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1781), as NYS Senator, and as the first president of the Bank of New York.
Claude McKay (1889-1948)
Poet and author who is often considered the "rebel sojourner" of the Harlem Renaissance because of his radical, Marxist-informed political views, known for the poem "If We Must Die" (1919) and his first novel Home to Harlem (1928).
Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909)
Beaux-Arts architect and partner in the firm McKim, Mead & White, designers of the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University (1897), and Penn Station (1902-11), among many other important civic structures.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
Anthropologist and social critic, associated with the American Museum of Natural History throughout her career, known for expertise in subjects ranging from sexual theory, to tribal customs, to atomic politics, and for lecturing to standing room crowds.
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Author, whose early novels, including Typee (1846), earned him fame, yet the critical failure of his later work led him to work as a customs inspector from 1866 to 1885. Moby Dick (1851) was only recognized as a literary masterpiece in the 20th century.
Ethel Merman (1908-1984)
Singer, actress, life-long New Yorker, whose voice needed no hidden microphones, her career began when she sang Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" (1930) and included such Broadway hits as Anything Goes (1934), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), and Gypsy (1959).
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Poet and playwright, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1923), who embodied the bohemian spirit of Jazz Age Greenwich Village where she wrote her most famous line: "My candle burns at both ends" in 1918.
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)
Playwright, Death of a Salesman opened on Broaday in 1949, winning a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize. His work, including The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge (1955) took on matters of social conscience and the ideal of the "American Dream."
Henry Miller (1891-1980)
Novelist, self-described "Brooklyn boy" whose Tropic of Capricorn (1938), written in Paris, took inspiration from his brief job at the Western Union Telegraph Company in Manhattan. Though commonly banned until 1964, it has become a classic of American literature.
Pieter Minuit (1580-1638)
Director of New Netherland who "purchased" Manhattan from the Native Americans for the equivalent of 60 guilders, and gathered the scattered colonists on Manhattan, where he founded the town of New Amsterdam.
Joseph Mitchell (1908-1996)
After arriving in New York in 1929, wrote for the Herald Tribune, the World-Telegram and, in 1938, The New Yorker, covering such oft-overlooked subjects as the patrons of McSorley's Old Ale House, and the workers of the Fulton Fish Market.
Samuel Mitchill (1764-1831)
Statesman, scholar and physician who published the first US medical journal, promoted sanitary reforms, helped found the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb and the College of Surgeons and Physicians, and served in the US Senate and the US Congress.
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)
Poet, key figure in the 1920s avant-garde literary movement in Greenwich Village, who edited and was published in The Dial, the modernist literary journal. She was an avid Dodger fan and penned "Hometown Piece for Messrs. Alston and Reese" for the team.
J. P. (John Pierpont) Morgan (1837-1913)
Financier who built the powerful banking house J.P. Morgan & Co., and who, as an equally powerful railroad magnate, reshaped American manufacturing. Also helped found the Metropolitan Museum of Art and built the Morgan Library.
Gouverneur Morris, Jr. (1813-1883)
Prominent entrepreneur in the 19th century Bronx who as vice president of the NY & Harlem Railroad built rail lines to the Bronx, then sold land along the lines to develop Morrisania.
Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872)
Inventor and artist, who moved to New York in 1823 as a portrait painter, designed a telegraph system in 1832, invented Morse Code, made the first sun photographs in the US, and helped lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
Willie Mosconi (1913-1993)
Pocket billiard player, won the world pocket billiards championship 15 times (1941-56), defeated longtime rival Minnesota Fats in a game broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports with Howard Cosell as emcee, and established billiards as a reputable game.
Robert Moses (1888-1981)
Master builder; from 1934-68 he transformed the physical character of the city, modernizing and equipping it for the automobile age through countless public works, including highways, bridges, beaches, public pools, and public housing.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003)
Harvard professor and four-term US senator from New York who pushed to shift highway financing toward mass transit (1991-92), wrote books on race relations and poverty including Beyond the Melting Pot (1963).
Lewis Mumford (1895-1990)
Author, city planner and foe of Robert Moses’ development plans, known for his "Sky Line" column in The New Yorker (1930s-50s); co-founder of the Regional Planning Association of America (1923), who lived in the utopian Sunnyside Gardens, Queens.
Rupert Murdoch (1931- )
Global media magnate, chairman and controlling shareholder of News Corporation. News Corporation owns and operates such New York institutions as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as the Fox Network and MySpace.
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
Literate, hard-edged CBS broadcaster, who mistrusted television's tendency towards entertainment. He was known for his reports from World War II, and for challenging Senator Joseph McCarthy. His documentary series See It Now flourished in the 1950s.
Joe Namath (1943- )
Nicknamed “Broadway Joe,” this quarterback for the New York Jets from 1965 to 1976 led the team to a stunning 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III (1969).
Condé Nast (1873-1942)
Early on a successful advertising manager for Collier's, he bought Vogue and went on to own, through Condé Nast Publications, a stable of magazines including Vogue, Vanity Fair, House & Gardens, and Glamour.
Thomas Nast (1840-1902)
Caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who specialized in political illustration for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper's Weekly. Known for cartoons on Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall and for his depiction of iconic characters like Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)
Leading post-World War II Abstract Expressionist sculptor who used found objects to create her assemblages. Was an iconic personality in the New York City art scene.
Samuel I. Newhouse, Sr. (1895-1979)
Self-made newspaper magnate who acquired the Staten Island Advance in 1922 and at his death controlled 31 US newspapers, seven US magazines, and five radio stations. Known for his keen business sense and for making his products profitable.
(Karl Paul) Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary from 1928-60 and editor of progressive Christian magazines, best known for relating the Christian faith to the realities of modern politics and diplomacy.
Mordecai Noah (1785-1851)
Born to a Portuguese Sephardic family, he was the first of his faith to achieve national prominence, serving as an ambassador, founding newspapers, and writing plays. She Would Be A Soldier (1819) is still included in anthologies.
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)
Japanese-American sculptor who opened his first studio in 1924 on University Place and went on to international prominence. The Noguchi Museum was opened in 1985 in properties he acquired near his last studio in Long Island City.
Norman Norell (1900-1972)
Designer who demonstrated that clothes created on Seventh Avenue could rival Paris couture. His workmanship was all the more remarkable because he made ready-to-wear, not couture, clothing.
Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)
Nobel Prize-winning playwright known for his psychologically and sexually probing work, including Strange Interlude (1928) and Long Day's Journey into Night (1941).
Adolph Ochs (1858-1935)
Starting out as a typesetter at the age of 11, Ochs went on to purchase the money-losing New York Times in 1896, focusing on objective news coverage. He moved the paper into what became One Times Square, inaugurating New Year's Eve celebrations there.
Clifford Odets (1906-1963)
Raised in the Bronx and a high school drop-out, he was first an actor, helping to form the Group Theater, where he became its first playwright with Awake and Sing! (1935). Passionate about economic justice, he later went to Hollywood to write screenplays.
David Ogilvy (1911-1999)
Often called the "Father of Advertising." The English-born Ogilvy was a researcher for George Gallup before forming what became Ogilvy and Mather in 1948. He believed that the function of advertising was to sell products based on information about consumers.
Frank O’Hara (1926-1966)
Poet known for an unconstrained style characterized by spontaneous observations of everyday life as in Lunch Poems (1964), which provides a poet's view of New York City at midday.
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Landscape designer and father of American landscape architecture, he co-designed, with Calvert Vaux, Central Park and Prospect Park based on his egalitarian principle that green space should be equally accessible to all citizens.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994)
Former First Lady who lived in New York following her husband's assassination, she was an editor and prominent social figure who helped lead the preservation battle to save Grand Central Station.
Elisha Graves Otis (1811-1861)
An inventor who, faced with moving heavy materials to upper floors, designed his own safety device to brake elevators if their cables broke, thereby helping to make New York a skyscraper city. He went on to invent a steam valve engine and a rotary oven.
William S. Paley (1901-1990)
Entrepreneur who built the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) into a communications empire encompassing TV, radio, recording, film, publishing, Broadway musicals, and even the New York Yankees.
Antonia Pantoja (1922-2002)
Educator and activist who founded ASPIRA, devoted to the education and leadership development of Puerto Rican and other Latino youth, and secured the 1974 ASPIRA Consent Decree establishing bilingual program in the NYC public schools.
Joseph Papp (1921-1991)
Producer who founded the New York Shakespeare Festival, which made Shakespeare accessible to audiences at performances in Central Park, and the Public Theater (now the Joseph Papp Public Theater), which launched such hits as Hair and A Chorus Line.
Charlie Parker (1920-1955)
A leader of the bebop jazz movement, consummate improviser, and remarkable composer. Regarded as an icon for the hipster subculture and the Beat generation of the mid 20th century.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Writer and poet celebrated for her acerbic wit. A member of the Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s who in that decade published some 300 poems and free verses in Vanity Fair, Vogue and The New Yorker. In Hollywood, wrote the screenplay for A Star is Born.
Charles Parkhurst (1842-1933)
Presbyterian minister who spoke out against political corruption, crime, and licentiousness who went undercover to collect evidence of Tammany Hall abuses. As a leader of the Social Gospel movement, he used rousing sermons to spur political action.
William Barclay Parsons (1859-1932)
Civil engineer who designed the Interborough Rapid Transit subway, a private venture that constructed the 21 mile subway along Manhattan's east side in an astonishing four years, from 1900 to 1904.
Antonio “Tony” Pastor (1837-1908)
Theater manager and variety performer, often called the "Father of Vaudeville," who began his career at P.T. Barnum's Museum and subsequently opened several concert saloons.
Charles Paterno (1876-1946)
A medical doctor. He developed apartment buildings on the Upper West Side and later built a cooperative, Hudson View Gardens, in Washington Heights, as well as Castle Village. Incredibly, he built a turreted castle for his residence on Cabrini Boulevard.
Joseph Medill Patterson (1879-1946)
Journalist and publisher who created the New York Daily News in 1919, beginning the New York tradition of tabloid journalism that continues to this day.
I.M. (Ieoh Ming) Pei (1917- )
Pritzker Prize winner, Chinese-born, American-trained architect and engineer, he is known as the last master of modernism. In 1948, he worked for William Zeckendorf and designed Kips Bay Towers, forming his own firm in 1955 and designing buildings across the globe.
Edward Penfield (1866-1925)
A poster artist and illustrator whose work was used as advertising and in magazines, his designs graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Colliers--although he is mostly associated with the work he did for Harper's Monthly.
Frances Perkins (1880-1965)
Reformer who fought for workers' rights and women's rights and who, in the administrations of NY Governor and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (she was the first female cabinet member), enforced workers compensation and child labor laws.
Duncan Phyfe (1786-1854)
Leading cabinetmaker who opened his business in 1794, with his best output from 1800-20, Phyfe designed in the Early Empire style marked by elegant simplicity. His work is now among the collections of major museums.
Molly Picon (1898-1992)
Actress and comedian of the Yiddish theater who also appeared in silent films and English and Yiddish talking films, including Yidl Mit'n Fidl. Opened the Molly Picon Theatre in 1931 and was known for roles in which she dressed as a young boy.
John Pintard (1759-1844)
Powerful colonial New York City merchant (until he lost his fortune) who worked on behalf of his young city, promoting the work of Governor DeWitt Clinton and beginning efforts that led to free education for children.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Short story writer, poet, and critic, inventor of the detective story. Known for macabre tales and haunting poetry. Wrote "The Raven" while living in Manhattan in 1845. In 1846 he moved to 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, which is now called Poe Cottage.
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Abstract Expressionist who was deemed the greatest living artist in the United States by Time magazine in 1949.
Cole Porter (1891-1964)
Learning piano and violin by the age of 8, he became a leading Broadway composer of musicals including Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate whose flair for memorable melodies and sophisticated lyrics ranks him as New York's and America's best songwriter.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908-1972)
Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, he was New York State's first African-American Congressman and was an effective legislator, marshalling support for Kennedy's "New Frontier" but was later ousted amid charges of misuse of funds. Famous for "Keep the faith, baby."
Tito Puente (1923-2000)
Influential Latin jazz and mambo musician known as "The King of Latin Music" who helped bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream audiences in the 1950s.
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
Coming to America as a penniless young man, he became involved in the newspaper business. Later accused of yellow journalism in a circulation war with Hearst, in his will he left a gift to create the prizes in his name and the Columbia School of Journalism.
Michael Quill (1906-1966)
Labor leader who worked in the NYC subway system before founding the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) in 1934. At the beginning of Mayor John Lindsay's first term in 1966 he called a strike that lasted for 12 days.
Isidor Isaac Rabi (1898-1988)
Physicist who established a physics center at Columbia University. Awarded the Nobel Prize (1944) for his achievements in nuclear magnetic resonance, which advanced medical techniques like the MRI and contributed to the development of radar and the atomic bomb.
Robert Richard Randall (1740-1801)
Sea captain and philanthropist who bequeathed his fortune to build Sailors’ Snug Harbor (1833), the first retirement community for sailors, in Staten Island with buildings designed by Minard Lafever.
John Randel, Jr. (c.1786-1865)
Surveyor of Manhattan from 1812 to 1821 who implemented the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, placing markers where the street grid would be laid out based on his maps and notes on the island's topographical features.
A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979)
Labor leader who established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (1925), a landmark in black labor organizations, and helped found the modern civil rights movement by employing direct action protests and civil disobedience to influence national policy.
John J. Raskob (1879-1950)
Businessman and financial executive who co-directed the construction of the Empire State Building (1931) with Alfred E. Smith. An opponent of both the New Deal and prohibition.
Lou Reed (1942- )
Guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter for The Velvet Underground, a New York City-based rock-and-roll quartet known for its themes of gritty street life and drug use in the 1960s.
George Lewis "Tex" Rickard (1870-1929)
Boxing promoter who made Madison Square Garden into the best-known boxing venue in the nation, staged the first million-dollar boxing fight, built a new Madison Square Garden (III) in 1925, and founded the New York Rangers hockey team in 1926.
Jacob Riis (1849-1914)
Police reporter and photojournalist for the New York Tribune (1877-88); social activist and immigrant advocate known for his documentation of New York City's tenements and their inhabitants in How the Other Half Lives (1890).
Louis Risse (1851-1925)
Alsatian-born civil engineer who, inspired by the celebrated boulevards of Paris, designed the Grand Concourse in the Bronx (1890-1909).
James Rivington (1724-1802)
Publisher, printer, and journalist who launched The New York Gazetteer (1773), which circulated vicious anti-Patriot propaganda, but who is believed to have been a spy for General George Washington.
Jerome Robbins (1918-1998)
Dancer, choreographer, and director who served as artistic director (1940s) and ballet master (1980s) for the New York City Ballet and choreographed/directed such Broadway shows as West Side Story (1957) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964).
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Actor, singer, activist, professional athlete, and lawyer. He acted in film and theater, and was the first black man to play Othello in 1943. Popularized the performance of Negro spirituals. Active in labor, anti-fascist, and pro-Soviet causes.
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949)
Tap dancer who starred in vaudeville and all-black Broadway revues. nicknamed the "Mayor of Harlem," he is known for dancing with young Shirley Temple in several films in the 1930s, at a time when interracial performances were rare.
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972)
Hall of Fame second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers for 10 years starting in 1947, when he became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues, thus integrating the sport and becoming an early symbol of the civil rights movement.
Sugar Ray Robinson (1921-1989)
Hall of Fame boxer, five-time middleweight champion, from 1940-65 recorded 173 victories and 19 losses. Often considered the best fighter in history, he was never knocked out by an opponent. He also had a successful nightclub act and owned Harlem cafe Sugar Ray's.
David Rockefeller (1915- )
Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (1969-81) and was key in keeping it and the other businesses in Lower Manhattan in the 1950s. Helped form the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which stablized the city's finances during the 1960s-70s.
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)
Founder of Standard Oil (1870) and America's first billionaire. Created several major foundations and supported causes such as public health, education, and municipal reform. His approach to charity defined the structure of modern philanthropy.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960)
Built Rockefeller Center (1930s). Donated the sites of the UN (1946) and the Museum of Modern Art. Gave money to advance medical research, international development, and conservation, and funded housing projects like Sunnyside Gardens in Queens and parks like Fort Tryon.
Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979)
The first governor of NY (1959-73) to establish a permanent office in NYC. Established the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1965. Served as Vice President of the US under Gerald Ford. An avid art collector, he founded the Museum of Primitive Art (1957), and in 1969, donated the collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)
Composer of Broadway musicals from 1940's acerbic Pal Joey (with lyrics by Lorenz Hart) to 1943's wholesome Oklahoma! (with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II).
Emily Roebling (1843-1903)
Oversaw the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge after her husband, chief engineer Washington Roebling, developed caisson sickness ("the bends") in 1872 from his work on the project.
John Roebling (1806-1869)
Designer and chief engineer from 1867-69 of the daring and innovative steel suspension bridge spanning the East River that became the Brooklyn Bridge.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Advanced the causes of civil rights and the women's movement. Supported the formation of the United Nations and was a delegate to the UN General Assembly (1945-52). Helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
As President, established New Deal programs to provide economic relief during the Great Depression. Funnelled millions of dollars to the city through WPA and other programs. Established the SEC, which lent stability to NY's financial markets.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
Began his political career in New York City, where he was elected state representative (1881). Reformed the police department in NYC. Went on to serve as NYS Governor (1899-1900), VP, and President (1901-09). Founded the now defunct Progressive Party.
Ernestine Rose (1810-1892)
By the 1840s, was one of the leading reformers and feminists in the US. Atheist, free thinker, abolitionist, temperance advocate, suffragist. Fought for the right of women to hold property in their own name. Known for witty, sarcastic and incisive speeches.
Harold Ross (1892-1951)
Journalist who founded The New Yorker magazine in 1925 and was its first editor.
Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel (1882-1936)
Movie palace showman who opened the Roxy Movie Theater in 1927 and was the first impresario of Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes, beginning in 1932.
Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein (1882-1928)
A leading gambler, bootlegger, drug dealer, and labor racketeer with connections to Tammany Hall. Accused of fixing the outcome of the 1919 World Series.
Lewis Rudin (1927-2001)
Real estate developer who co-founded the Association for a Better New York in 1971. In 1975, during the fiscal crisis, he persuaded developers and corporate leaders to make a series of prepayments in property taxes to save the city from bankruptcy.
David Ruggles (1810-1849)
Abolitionist pamphleteer who launched the first black magazine in the US, Mirror of Liberty, in 1838. Leader of the New York Vigilance Committee, which helped fugitive slaves escape capture.
Damon Runyon (1880-1946)
Journalist, short story writer, joined Hearst's New York American in 1911 as a sportswriter, wrote "hard boiled" stories about petty criminals, gamblers, and chorus girls, including the 1932 collection Guys and Dolls, which inspired the hit musical in 1950.
Jacob Ruppert, Jr. (1867-1939)
Heir to the New York-based Jacob Ruppert Brewery, he purchased the New York Yankees in 1914, serving as the team's president until his death in 1939, building it into a baseball powerhouse.
Lillian Russell (1860-1922)
Singer and actress who starred in operettas and musical theater in the late-19th/early 20th centuries, including at Weber and Field's Music Hall. Also performed in vaudeville and dramatic roles and was an advocate for women's suffrage.
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
Civil rights activist, pacifist, and aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1955-60. Helped organize the 1963 March on Washington. In opposition to black nationalists, he believed in cooperation between the races and collaboration with the federal government.
George Herman "Babe" Ruth (1895-1948)
Hall of Famer who led the New York Yankees to seven Pennants and four World Championships (1920 to 1934). A slugger who had 714 career homeruns and is considered one of the best ball players in history.
Isaiah Rynders (1804-1885)
Tammany boss who founded the Empire Club. Known for organizing voter intimidation and election fraud in the 1840s and 50s. Said to have delivered the elections of three US Presidents as well as numerous local officials.
Edward W. Said (1935-2003)
Literary theorist, cultural critic and pro-Palestinian activist. A Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University for 40 years, he is best known for his book Orientalism (1978).
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)
Sculptor of the American Renaissance, whose commissions, many in collaboration with architects Stanford White and Charles McKim, include William Tecumseh Sherman (Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan, 1903).
Jonas Salk (1914-1995)
Researcher and virologist, discovered and developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine in 1955. To ensure its widespread use, he refused to patent the vaccine.
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
Nurse and founder of the American Birth Control League (later Planned Parenthood) and the first birth control clinic in 1916/17. Arrested repeatedly for defying the Comstock Law of 1873 by distributing materials on contraceptives.
David Sarnoff (1891-1971)
Began as a telegraph operator. In 1926 formed the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Orchestrated the first American public television broadcast (from the 1939 New York World's Fair) and later led the team that developed color television.
Dorothy Schiff (1903-1989)
Bought the New York Evening Post in 1939, becoming the first female publisher of a New York daily, staying in command until 1976, when she sold the tabloid to Rupert Murdoch.
Arturo Schomburg (1874-1938)
Bibliophile and historian of Africa and its people. His collection of books, pamphlets, prints, paintings, and photographs became the nucleus of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
Ian Schrager (1946- )
Real estate developer and the largest private hotelier in NY who co-founded Studio 54 in 1977 and is credited with creating the genre of "boutique hotels" including Morgans Hotel (1984), The Royalton (1988) and the Gramercy Park Hotel (2005).
Dutch Schultz (1902-1935)
Major figure in organized crime during Prohibition in the 1920s. A bootlegger and racketeer who exploited his connection to Tammany Hall and unsuccessfully planned to assassinate federal prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey.
Martin Scorsese (1942- )
Filmmaker, film historian, and movie preservationist whose films such as Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976) offered powerful meditations on the city's decline in the 1960s and 70s.
Pete Seeger (1919- )
American folk singer and composer, a key figure in the mid-20th century American folk music revival who used his music and celebrity to advance labor, political, and environmental activism.
Jerry Seinfeld (1954- )
Standup comedian, actor, and writer, who played the semi-fictional Jerry Seinfeld on the television show of the same name (1989-1998). His brand of humor celebrates the minutia of everyday life in the city and defined New York for a generation of viewers.
Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816)
The first native-born Jewish minister in the country, he served as hazzan (lay leader) of Congregation Shearith Israel from 1768-76 and 1784-1816. A strict Orthodox and promoter of the Hebrew language, he was also the first Jewish clergyman to give sermons in English.
Frank Serpico (1936- )
NYPD patrolman and plainclothes officer from 1959-72. He testified about widespread departmental corruption before the Knapp Commission in 1971.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774-1821)
Saint, canonized in 1975, formed the first Roman Catholic religious order in the US, the Sisters of Charity (1809). The order is responsible for much of the child care, education, and health care undertaken by the Archdiocese of New York.
Albert Shanker (1928-1997)
Labor leader, helped form the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in 1960, became president in 1964, led the UFT in a bitter strike over school decentralization in 1968. Later enabled the UFT to use pension funds to help save NYC from bankruptcy in 1975.
Al Sharpton (1954- )
Baptist minister and civil rights activist. Formed the National Youth Movement in 1971 and worked as a community activist throughout the 1980s and 90s. An unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nominations for Senate (1992, -94) and President (2004).
William A. Shea (1907-1991)
Lawyer and political advisor. After the Dodgers and Giants left New York, he worked with Branch Rickey to persuade the Major Leagues to admit four new teams, one of which was the National League New York Mets. Shea Stadium was named in his honor.
Levi “Lee” Shubert (1871-1953)
Founded the theater syndicate, the Shubert Organization, with his brothers Sam and J. J., which has operated hundreds of theaters and produced hundreds of plays and musicals since 1900 and still owns 17 Broadway theaters.
Beverly Sills (1929-2007)
Coloratura soprano who debuted with the New York City Opera as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. She was general director of the New York City Opera for 10 years, before becoming chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center.
Mary Simkhovitch (1867-1951)
Reformer, founded Greenwich House in 1902 and was a force behind the creation of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) , serving as vice-chairman from 1934-48. She introduced community centers and other settlement house models into public housing.
Russell Simmons (1957- )
Co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def-Jam. His record labels, clothing lines and other enterprises make him one of the richest men in hip hop. Known for using hip hop as a vehicle to promote social causes.
Neil Simon (1927- )
Playwright who has written more than a dozen comedies set in New York City, several, including Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965) and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971) have been adapted for film, television or both.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991)
Novelist who was a leading figure of the Yiddish literary movement. His prose fiction was published in the Forward beginning in 1935 and he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978, learning of the honor while sitting in a deli.
John French Sloan (1871-1951)
Member of the Ashcan School of realists known for his urban genre painting and ability to capture the essence of neighborhood life. His paintings and prints often depicted New York’s working class.
Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944)
Four time governor of New York (1918, -22, -24, -26), a working-class man of the people. In 1928 he ran for President on the Democratic ticket as both the first Catholic and Irish American nominee from a major party ticket, but lost to Herbert Hoover.
James McCune Smith (1813-1865)
Physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author, the first African American in the United States to practice medicine and to run a pharmacy (on West Broadway). In his writing refuted common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine, and society.
Patti Smith (1946- )
Singer-songwriter, poet, and artist whose incorporation of beat poetry style in her performances made her a key figure in the New York punk rock movement of the late 1960s-70s. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Haym Solomon (1740-1785)
Major financier of the Revolutionary War and member of the Sons of Liberty. Used his knowledge of languages as a double agent, convincing Hessian soldiers to desert the war effort and helping soldiers escape British captivity.
Stephen Sondheim (1930- )
Composer and lyricist who began his career writing lyrics for the Broadway hits West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), his later work, including Company (1970) and Sweeney Todd (1979) is known for challenging subject matter and literate lyrics.
Benjamin Sonnenberg (1901-1978)
One of the first modern public relations men, whose work was, in his words, “fashioning large pedestals for small statues,” handled the p. r. needs of organizations from Philip Morris to CBS and was known for his private mansion, 19 Gramercy Park.
Sonia Sotomayor (1954- )
Judge, who grew up in a Bronx housing development and a self-described "Nuyorican," who was confirmed the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and its third woman, on August 6, 2009.
Francis Cardinal Spellman (1889-1967)
Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York (1939-67), becoming Cardinal in 1946, an outspoken critic of communism, and a skillful administrator who formed 45 new parishes, created diocesan high schools, and cultivated ties to the Jewish community.
George Steers (1819-1856)
Shipbuilder. Built racing yachts including the clipper ship "America" which, in 1851, won the sailing prize which would come to be called the America's Cup.
Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Photographer, settled in New York in 1923 and became a fashion photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue and an accomplished portraitist, as head of the Photography Department at MoMA, organized the Family of Man exhibition in 1955.
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999)
Cartoonist and illustrator, who arrived in New York in 1942, known for employing an array of styles and materials, including cartography, collage, architectural rendering, and photography to depict and critique aspects of his adopted city.
George Michael Steinbrenner, III (1930- )
Entrepreneur, owner of the New York Yankees since 1973, during which time the team has won 10 pennants and 6 World Series titles. Known for his hands-on managerial style, he dismissed manager Billy Martin on 5 separate occasions.
Gloria Steinem (1934- )
Writer and activist, received national attention for an undercover article, “I Was a Playboy Bunny” for Show in 1963, launched feminist magazine Ms. in 1972, campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, and wrote Revolution from Within.
Henry Steinweg (1797-1871)
Piano maker, whose firm became Steinway and Sons in 1853, the company built and still operates a factory on 400 acres along the northwestern shore of Queens. Marketing pianos as a symbol of middle class success, the firm produced 6,000 grand pianos at its peak in 1926.
Robert A.M. Stern (1939- )
Architect and architectural historian, known for conceiving and co-authoring the definitive books on the city's architecture and urbanism: New York 1900, New York 1930, and New York 1960 and New York 2000.
A.T. (Alexander Turney) Stewart (1803-1876)
Retailer, inventor of the American department store, started with a small dry goods shop at 283 Broadway, eventually opening the "Marble Palace," the first commercial building with a marble façade (1846), and, in 1862 the larger "Iron Palace."
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)
Photographer, who promoted photography as an art form on par with painting. He studied in Europe before returning to New York in 1890, founding the group Photo-Secession (1902) with a gallery for its members, and publishing the journal Camera Work.
I.N. (Isaac Newton) Phelps Stokes (1867-1944)
Housing reformer and architect who worked to improve housing conditions for the poor and designed model tenements. Avid collector of prints and maps, dedicated his later life and fortune to writing the six volume Iconography of Manhattan Island (1915-28).
George Templeton Strong (1820-1875)
Lawyer best known for his diary, which spanned the 19th century and provided commentary on the city's politics and daily life.
Petrus Stuyvesant (1612-1672)
Peg-leg Director General of New Netherland, he arrived in 1647 to the cheers of settlers, who later found him to be a strict Calvinist. With his salary he bought a farm of 62 acres, to which he retired after turning over the colony to the English.
Lewis Tappan (1788-1873)
Abolitionist and author. Founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.
Norman Thomas (1884-1968)
Political leader and pacifist, helped form the National Civil Rights Bureau (now ACLU) in 1917. Leader of the Socialist Party, unsuccessfully ran for Mayor in 1925 and 1929, and for President of the United States in every campaign between 1928 and 1948.
George C. Tilyou (1862-1914)
Coney Island entrepreneur who saw a Ferris wheel at the Columbian World's Fair and came back to build his own, opening his own enclosed amusement park, Steeplechase Park. in 1897, including the Human Roulette Wheel.
Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825)
Four term Governor of NY (1807-17). Privately founded Tompkinsville and began a daily ferry service from Staten Island to Manhattan. He committed the state to abolish slavery in 1827. Also served as Vice President of the United States (1817-25).
Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853)
Haitian-born philanthropist and entrepreneur who came as a slave to New York in 1787. Became a hairdresser and supported his master's family before earning his freedom in 1807. Gave money to many Catholic charities and helped other slaves buy their freedom.
Paris-born, early New Netherland settler who arrived in 1624 at age 19 on the first Dutch West India Company ship carrying settlers. She was the first European woman to give birth in New York.
Donald Trump (1946- )
Joining the real estate company of his father Fred Trump as a young man, he became an entrepreneur in his own right, adding to office and residential towers, casinos and hotels. A TV personality and celebrity, known for his extravagant lifestyle.
Sophie Tucker (1884-1966)
Russian-born, Jewish comedian and singer. Performed vaudeville in blackface in the early 1900s, sang in ragtime and blues styles throughout 1930s-40s, and appeared on TV and film through the 1960s. Known for the 1925 hit song "My Yiddishe Momme."
William M. Tweed (1823-1878)
Tammany Hall leader from 1863 who controlled the courts, elected and appointed officials. Was pilloried by Thomas Nast in 1870 for corruption exemplified by the New York County (Tweed) Courthouse. He was convicted and later died in the Ludlow Street Jail.
William Van Alen (1883-1954)
Brooklyn-born and educated, Paris-trained architect whose Chrysler Building was decried as embodying "no compelling organic idea." Incorporated Art Deco design to build what was, briefly, the tallest building in the city.
Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877)
Entrepreneur. At 16 ran a ferry between Staten Island and Manhattan. Became a millionaire by 1846 in steamboat shipping and later moved into the railroad business, taking over the Harlem Railroad in 1863, and constructing Grand Central Depot (1871).
Felix Varela (1788-1853)
Cuban religious and political reformer and Catholic minister who came to New York in 1824 as a political refugee, where he wrote for numerous Catholic publications, promoted Cuban independence, and served as pastor of Christ Church (later Transfiguration).
Calvert Vaux (1824-1895)
Architect and landscape architect skilled at landscape drawing. Was brought from London by A. J. Downing. Best known as co-designer, with Olmsted, of Central Park and Prospect Park--examples of integration of buildings and bridges into nature.
Polito Vega (1938- )
Known as "El Rey de la Radio," a Latin music radio broadcaster for 50 years, beginning in the industry upon his arrival from Puerto Rico in 1957. One of the first radio personalities to promote salsa music in the 1960s.
Baruch Charney Vladeck (1886-1938)
Advocate for public housing who initiated one of the first municipal slum clearance programs in the 1930s. Leading figure of the Jewish Socialist movement.
Diana Vreeland (1903-1989)
Socialite and legendary fashion arbiter who was the fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar (1937-62) and the editor in chief at Vogue (1962-71). From 1971 until her death in 1989, she created exhibitions at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Robert Wagner, Jr. (1910-1991)
As three term Mayor (1954-65), built housing and schools. Appointed people of color to senior administration positions. Created the City University of New York system and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, in response to the demolition of Penn Station.
Robert Wagner, Sr. (1877-1953)
As a NYS legislator, he responded to the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire by making a law that required safety standards and granting unions legal status. As a US Senator, he pushed through the Wagner Act (1935), creating the National Labor Relations Board, and the US Housing Act.
Lillian Wald (1867-1940)
Nurse and social reformer, established the Henry Street Settlement in 1893 and the Visiting Nurse Service in 1909. Championed causes such as public health and the rights of women, children, and working people.
Madame C. J. (Sarah Breedlove) Walker (1867-1919)
Operated a beauty salon from her Harlem townhouse, marketing cosmetics and hair products for black women and becoming the first self-made woman millionaire in the country.
Andy (Andrew Warhola) Warhol (1928-1987)
Painter, printmaker, filmmaker, and celebrity. He was a leading figure in pop art and in New York City nightlife. In the 1960s he painted iconic American products. His studio was called the Factory and came to include his Superstars, like Edie Sedgwick.
George E. Waring, Jr. (1833-1898)
Appointed Commissioner of the Department of Street Cleaning in 1895, he reorganized the department and was the first administrator to provide adequate services. Introduced a system of waste disposal that allowed ocean dumping to be discontinued.
Ethel Waters (1896-1977)
Dancer, singer, actress, who performed at the Cotton Club, on stage, and in films and television from the 1930s-60s. One of the first African-American singers to achieve widespread popularity. Also among the first to blend jazz and popular music.
Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (1899-1968)
Photojournalist known for his street photography of gruesome car accidents and violent crime scenes, he gained fame as a press photographer in the 1930s and 40s, following the city's emergency services and documenting their activities.
Mae West (1893-1980)
Brooklyn-born actress and playwright who glorified and parodied conventional sexuality. Was known for her use of double entendre and her suggestive manner and dress. Best known for writing and starring in Diamond Lil (1928).
Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
Novelist who documented the evolution of New York City's elite from genteel provincialism to Gilded Age cosmopolitanism, in such books as House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920).
E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White (1899-1985)
Author of children's books including Stuart Little (1945) and Charlotte's Web (1952) and co-author of The Elements of Style (1959), he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1927, contributing stories for six decades. His essay Here Is New York was named by The New York Times as one of the 10 best books ever written about the city.
Stanford White (1853-1906)
Among America's greatest Beaux-Arts architects, and a partner in McKim, Mead, and White, he designed the Washington Arch, among many landmarks. A key player of the "American Renaissance," White was sensationally murdered by Harry Thaw, a jealous husband.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Poet, essayist, and journalist who is among New York's and America's most influential poets. He published Leaves of Grass in 1855, using his own money. It contains such poems as "A Broadway Pageant" and "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry."
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942)
Heiress, sculptor, and art patron. She founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931.
William J. Wilgus (1865-1949)
One of the principal engineers responsible for the design and construction of Grand Central Station (1913). He was a visionary for his idea of leasing the air rights above the railroad tracks.
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Southern-born playwright known for lyrical dramas set in the South, such as The Glass Menagerie (1945), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1951). Awarded four New York Drama Critics' Circle awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and a Tony Award for best play.
Walter Winchell (1897-1972)
Newspaperman who invented the gossip column for the Daily Mirror. His column was syndicated to 2,000 other papers, reaching 50 million from 1920-60. His radio broadcasts, from 1930-50, reached 20 million, but he was eventually eclipsed by TV.
Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949)
Rabbi and political leader, founder of the New York Federation of Zionists Societies in 1887 and leader of the American Zionist movement, he co-founded the NAACP in 1914.
Tom Wolfe, Jr. (1931- )
Essayist and novelist best known for his white suits and, in 1987, for the book, Bonfire of the Vanities, which explored racial tensions in New York City.
Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)
Reformer, women's rights activist, supporter of "free love," a leader of the American branch of the International Workingmen's Association.
John B. Woodward (1835-1896)
Considered one of the best known men in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. Commander of the Second Division of Brooklyn, and a businessman, he led the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, laying the foundation for the Brooklyn Museum.
Frank Winfield Woolworth (1852-1919)
A clerk who pioneered discount stores, his innovations were open display and clear pricing. Operating 1,000 stores, he built headquarters in 1913 on Broadway--a "Cathedral to Commerce" and New York's then tallest building, designed by Cass Gilbert.
Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
As a woman and a Chinese-born physicist, she broke numerous racial and gender barriers in the science world. At Columbia University she worked on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.
William Zeckendorf, Sr. (1905-1976)
Real estate developer who assembled the land for the site of the United Nations and employed architect I.M. Pei to design distinctive new buildings in the 1950s and 60s.
John Peter Zenger (1697-1746)
Publisher of the New York Weekly Journal. Arrested and tried for sedition for his criticism of the colonial government, he was found not guilty in a trial that has been credited with paving the way for the principle of freedom of the press.
Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (1867-1932)
Impresario. Produced seven musicals in the early 1900s. Best known for his Ziegfeld Follies, musical revues designed to "glorify the American girl." Also produced musical dramas such as Show Boat (1927).