July 6, 2016
For next week, intersection where legendary New York Times photographer most famously captured the people and fashions of New York City will be temporarily renamed in his honor
Bill Cunningham Corner to be unveiledtoday, Wednesday, July 6, 12:45PM at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan will be temporarily renamed after legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who died last month at the age of 87. The street sign will be formally unveiled today, Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 12:45PM at an event that will be live-streamed at http://www.facebook.com/mayordeblasio.
“Bill Cunningham turned our sidewalks into runways and New Yorkers into models,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “His vivid photos captured our city’s diversity in every sense of the word, and helped define New York as the fashion capital of the world. Now, the corner that has long been known as Bill’s will officially be named for him – a fitting tribute for one of New York’s greats.”
"From this corner Bill Cunningham photographed what he liked to call stunners. They included people who spent fortunes on fashion and people who just had a strut and knew how to put an outfit together out of what they had and what they found," said Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, The New York Times. "We miss Bill every day at The Times."
“Fifth Avenue and 57th Street was Bill Cunningham's spot. The world of fashion always knew that. Now, thanks to our Mayor, the world will know,” said Diane von Furstenberg, Chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
"Bill documented decades of New York City style as no one else could. His life’s work is both a time capsule and a love letter to this city. It’s a privilege to honor him with an official designation at the corner where he captured generations of New Yorkers passing by,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.
Cunningham was honored frequently in his life, including in 2009 by the New York Landmarks Conservancy as a “New York Living Landmark.”
The Mayor has the power to temporarily rename a street for a matter of days. A permanent name change process for a street is handled through the legislative process following the introduction of a co-naming by a City Council Member, Council approval, and, ultimately, a mayoral signature. The Administration will continue to work with the Council, the community, and Cunningham's friends and colleagues on a permanent way to honor his legacy.
“I started the petition out of my own desire that something be done to honor a man who meant so much to the city of New York. Within an hour, I realized that an outlet had been created for an international outpouring of love and support from thousands upon thousands who wanted exactly the same thing. Bill Cunningham gave New York his best for decades. Today, we’re so happy that New York gives Mr. Cunningham our very best with this well-deserved honor," said Nick Nicholson.
“As a good friend of his, I know how thrilled Bill would be with this honor. Although he would never have dreamt of it given his profound modesty, this is one small gift back from a city that Bill enlivened and touched with his magic and his unique charm,” said Sharon Coplan Hurowitz. “Harold Koda and I have been working on this project for several years, and we are so grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio and to Nick Nicholson who have now made it a reality.”
"Some street photographers are as predatory as hunters. Bill was different, he was unobtrusive and gentle. He was like an ornithologist documenting the fashion flock of New York. From sparrows and pigeons to bird's-of-paradise, he reveled with an egalitarian glee in the diverse originality of the city's streets, clubs and temples of culture and power for 50 years. His work constitutes more than a fashion history: it is the representation of the zeitgeist of the most dynamic city of his time. And the intersection of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue was his favorite habitat," said Harold Koda.
"Bill Cunningham was the great fashion historian, his memory of design and the things that inspired designers was astounding. He was like a walking encyclopedia of fashion, and yet he was always, always looking out for the new and the fresh idea. And most of all, Bill was the ultimate New Yorker, loving and excited by everything our fair city had to offer,” said Jeffrey Banks.
“We are proud to honor Bill Cunningham at a New York City street corner he helped make famous,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “As both a regular bicyclist into his 80s and a big booster of our annual Summer Streets program, Bill’s warm and gracious presence will be missed by many of us at DOT lucky to have known him. To have been photographed by Bill was a great honor – and this renaming helps underscore how impossible it will be to ever re-create his shots at 57th and 5th, or at any of hundreds of other spots where he captured the unique style of New Yorkers.”
“Bill Cunningham’s legendary work helped elevate New York’s fashion industry and the city as a whole,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “We will continue to strengthen the foundation he helped build by supporting fashion entrepreneurs, designers and manufacturers, and by enhancing New York’s position as the fashion capital of the world.”
“Bill Cunningham devoted his life to capturing the beauty, authenticity, and cultural richness of New York City for all the world to see,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Even after his work and the sight of him biking with his camera down the streets of New York became world-iconic, he remained consistently himself – modest, humble, and charming. He saw and represented the best of New York, bringing dispersed sights and scenes of the city into a collage for the public view and today we honor him with a small part of the city he so loved.”
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “I’m delighted that the City is temporarily renaming a street in honor of the iconic New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham. Nobody has done more to document the eccentricity and innovative fashion sense of ordinary New Yorkers. His photographs reveal the exuberant, eclectic style of denizens of the most wonderful city on earth, and together create an extraordinary portrait of New York itself.”
"We owe Bill Cunningham our gratitude for capturing and helping to shape the style of New York City for nearly four decades," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "The corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue was one of his favorite spots and the backdrop for much of his extraordinary work. It is only fitting that we honor him in this way."
Assembly Member Dan Quart said, “I am glad to see so many people from such different walks of life gather to celebrate the legacy of this wonderful New York artist. I hope that everyone who walks past this corner is reminded to look for the everyday beauty and joy that Bill Cunningham was able to vividly capture in his photography.”