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Best New Yorker Covers Capture a Changing City Over 90 Years

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The New Yorker published its first issue on February 21, 1925. Ninety years later, we still look to the magazine as the gold standard for reporting, fiction, and criticism. More than that, the publication's longevity, coupled with its commitment to art—from covers to cartoons—makes for some very poignant insights about its namesake city... and how it's changed. In fact, the covers over time serve as a highlight reel of crucial events that re-shaped the skyline: the George Washington Bridge opens (1931); the Pan Am (now MetLife) building is completed (1963), changing the view down Park Avenue (1963); the Twin Towers open (1974); and, years later, its replacement, One World Trade Center, is finally done (2015).

Of course, other covers capture the cultural zeitgeist more than any physical building, and those are just as important. Take the 2005 cover showing someone trying to capture the Empire State Building on a flip phone, one of many illustrated commentaries on the pitfalls of a technology-obsessed society. And even The New Yorker had to poke fun of Brooklyn's evolution into hipster-dom, albeit a few years late with a 2013 cover of title character Eustace Tilley sporting a beard, tattoos, and a peacoat. For the magazine's landmark 90th birthday, cover guru Françoise Mouly commissioned nine versions of Eustace. But first, take a look back through the glorious archives.

↑ The Empire State Building, which has been the subject of many a New Yorker cover was under construction. When it opened in 1931, it would be the tallest building in the world.

↑ The George Washington Bridge Had just opened.

↑ The Pan Am, now MetLife, building had just opened, forever changing the view south down Park Avenue.

↑ The World Trade Center had just opened.

↑ Could this one be any more iconic? Prints are framed in so many city homes, reminding ourselves and others about the warped sense of geography (and priorities) the city can instill.

↑ Back when the Seaport was more like an actual seaport.

↑ New York meets Los Angeles.

↑ Skyscrapers as wearable fashion. We buy it.

↑ That theme again: New York as the center of the universe.

↑ Another motif is how technology has changed the way we take in the landscape. Outdoor movies reflecting real life? Check.

↑ Even The New Yorker gets in on the Brooklyn jokes.

↑ This was published not long after the 9/11 museum had opened, and fencing was removed to allow greater access to the memorial ponds and plaza.

↑ The New Yorker moved downtown to the city's new tallest tower, One World Trade Center, from its old offices in Times Square. See you there for the next 90, right?
· Cover Story: Nine for Ninety [TNY]
· Ninety Years of The New Yorker [TNY]
· 92 Years of Architecture Through Time Magazine Covers [Curbed]