For the past 95 years, The New Yorker has been producing an iconic magazine with even more iconic covers. In 1925, Harlold Ross created the lighthearted magazine he dubbed the “fifteen-cent comic paper.” Throughout the years the magazine has grown into what it is today. The New Yorker is an American novelty that has influence and speaks on many current issues within our society. It addresses issues like art, culture and politics through articles, poetry and humor. While the content within the magazine tackles many issues, the cover of The New Yorker is the real so-called ‘poster child’ of each issue.
Throughout the years, The New Yorker has produced hundreds of magazines, each with a different and powerful cover that speaks for the moment. Deciding which covers I felt were the most impactful was challenging, to say the least, because there were quite literally hundreds to choose from. The New Yorker has tackled so many issues through their covers alone, and every one of them is special in its own way. Yet, there were three covers that stood out to me for truly speaking on the issues of that moment–March 29, 1976, Sept. 24, 2001 and Nov. 2, 2020, all spoke to me in different ways.
On March 29, 1976, The New Yorker had Paul Steinberg’s 1976 drawing entitled “View of the World from 9th Avenue” sprawled across the cover. The illustration is split into two main parts–the first is a view of Manhattan’s ninth and tenth avenues, while the second part of the picture portrays everywhere that is not New York. The two parts are separated by the Hudson River. In the image, ninth and tenth avenue are portrayed bustling with many buildings, people and cars all around. The second part of the image portrays the land to the west. The United States of America has been condensed into a square with five major cities (Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Kansas City, Mo. and Chicago) and three states (Texas, Utah and Nebraska). The essential idea of this image is to portray how New Yorkers view themselves compared to the rest of the country. They feel that New York is the best city, and is the center of the world and its attention. Steinberg is portraying a map of the world from a New Yorker’s point of view: a concrete jungle versus a dry, flat desert. The cover of The New Yorker ultimately pointed out that New Yorkers have a different viewpoint of the world and that they feel their city is, and always will be, the best.
The second most memorable cover that I came across was from Sept. 24, 2001. This magazine came out only two weeks after the events of Sept. 11 and is probably one of the most significant covers The New Yorker has produced. The image “9/11/2001” was produced by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. When first looking at the cover, it appears to be all black, but with further examination, the twin towers are revealed. Some even say that, depending on how you move the magazine, you can see a ghost embedded in the picture. This black on black image addresses a significant part of our nation’s history that will never be forgotten. While the world was still recovering and facing the impacts of that fateful day in New York, The New Yorker used their cover to speak up.
The magazine addressed that the nation was in a dark place at the moment, as a significant part of its culture was attacked; but, at the same time, they also reminded the nation that we will come together and be stronger than ever. The lasting impact and influence that this cover had on our nation will always be remembered because it was a beacon of hope for all Americans. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from; 9/11 affected the whole nation and The New Yorker brought that to light.
The last cover that I found especially significant was one of the more recent covers, Nov. 2, 2020. The work by Richard Mcguire is entitled “American Tumult.” There is an American flag in the picture, but instead of it being flat like it normally is, it’s all twisted up. The word ‘tumult’ means a loud and confusing noise, usually caused by a big group of people. I can’t think of a better word to describe the 2020 Presidential Election. This election is one of the most significant and influential ones of our nation’s history. Over the past few months, no matter what your viewpoints are, everyone has spoken up and created lots of noise within our country. Everyone has said something about the election, the candidates or their opinions. By producing an image of a twisted up American flag, The New Yorker is acknowledging the fact that our country is currently experiencing a deviation from the norm. They realize that we are in disarray because of the many viewpoints being shared.
The New Yorker covers have had a significant impact on our nation when it comes to portraying societal issues. The magazine is not afraid to speak out and approach any issue that is occurring within society. Whether it’s due to one of the covers I spoke about, or another one, The New Yorker will always have a lasting impact on our society.
This magazine has been around for 95 years and will probably be around for another 95 years addressing and talking about our society’s issues, through both the words and images produced that resonate with all who see them.