Since the legendary chaos of 1970s and ‘80s, New York has evolved to the point where the city’s “Disneyfication” is taken as a matter of public record.
THE ACTIVIST Michelle Alexander, a scholar and civil-rights litigator, exposed the warehousing in prisons of African-Americans in her 2010 book, “The New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” and as a professor at Union Theological Seminary.
THE POWER COUPLE Beyoncé is Houston-bred, but her songs have New York moxie. She is often courtside at New York Knicks games with her husband, Jay-Z, whogave a generation a new soundtrack to the city with “Empire State of Mind.”
THE LAWMAN Before he was fired by President Donald Trump, Preet Bharara, as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, prosecuted Wall Street fraud, targeted terrorists, cracked down on political corruption. He now hosts a weekly podcast about justice.
CABARET SAVIORA transgender and genre-defying chanteuse, Justin Vivian Bond came of age during the AIDS epidemic and found expression through the downtown alt-cabaret scene as part of the duo Kiki and Herb, playing Carnegie Hall and Broadway and going on to success as a solo performer.
THE VISIONARY Over three terms, the data-driven billionaire mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, had a potent effect on New York: development on every waterfront, pedestrian plazas everywhere, and no smoking in bars. He also established the 311 help line and transformed the city into a magnet for the 1 percenters.
DEAN OF STUDENTS Geoffrey Canada grew up poor in the South Bronx and fought to end generational poverty as president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, ultimately offering social services to 12,000 children and boosting their academic achievements and job prospects.
THE MIXER Dale DeGroff started bartending at the Rainbow Room in the 1980s and led the renaissance of classic cocktails made with fresh ingredients, influencing younger barkeepers and lifting night life — and drink prices — to a higher level.
THE WIT Tina Fey was the youngest recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. After her run at “Saturday Night Live,” she created and starred in the sitcom “30 Rock,” returned to SNL to spoof Sarah Palin, and adapted her screenplay of “Mean Girls” for a Broadway musical.
THE INOCULATOR As the New York City health commissioner and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden has confronted swine flu, Ebola and Zika viruses, and now in his role leading Resolve, a global health organization.
OFFHAND AUTEUR Sacramento, California, native Greta Gerwig moved east to go to Barnard, then soared through the do-it-yourself film industry as a buoyant, intrepid actress and writer; her 2017 directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” was nominated for five Academy Awards.
A Brooklyn attorney, Carrie Goldberg, was once vindictively harassed by an ex, leading her to wage battle against online “sextortion” and use nonconsensual-pornography laws to stop the hacking and leaking of explicit selfies.
THE HYPEBEAST James Jebbia, a transplanted Englishman, founded the skate shop Supreme in 1994, which gained a cult following for its genderless clothing line and design collaborations with artists ranging from Raymond Pettibon to Neil Young.
THE NOVELIST Books by Brooklynite Nicole Krauss — “The History of Love,” “Great House,” “Forest Dark” — have explored new territory as well as common themes of personal freedom, Jewish philosophy and the intrusion of the surreal on everyday life.
SHUTOUT ARTIST Swedish superhero goalie for the New York Rangers since 2005, Henrik Lundqvist holds the record for most wins by a European-born goaltender in NHL history and the most shutouts and wins in Rangers history; founded the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation to benefit underprivileged or ill children.
THE HOST Danny Meyer opened the Union Square Cafe in 1985, when Union Square was derelict; he brought good food to museums and stadiums and founded the fine-casual Shake Shack chain and eliminating tipping to address pay inequity.
CHARTER SCHOOL FORCE Eva Moskowitz founded Success Academy Charter Schools, the largest network of its kind in the city, taking a market-based approach to disciplined education for mostly poor minority children.
SOUND ADVISER James Murphy, frontman of LCD Soundsystem and co-founder of DFA Records, helped bring dancing back to Williamsburg rock clubs. He hatched a plan to impose a musical score on the beeps in subway stations, and pursued obsessions in other fields, investing in a natural wine bar in Brooklyn.
THE PEOPLE’S PLAYWRIGHT Lynn Nottage is the first female playwright to win a Pulitzer Prize twice. Her themes spotlight the use of rape as a weapon and America’s disenfranchised working class.
INFRASTRUCTURE GENIEDuring her tenure as commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan set in motion 400 miles of bike lanes and the launch of Citi Bike.
STEM LEADER In 2013, Reshma Saujani startedGirls Who Code, an educational and training organization focusing on closing the gender gap in tech.
STARGAZER Neil deGrasse Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium and an astrophysical cheerleader, enthusiastically proselytizing through TV and books on exploding stars, black holes, cosmic quandaries and dwarf galaxies.
DUMBO DEVELOPERS Dumbo was a wasteland in the 1970s, but David Walentas saw its potential and snapped up 19th century factories and warehouses, transforming the Brooklyn waterfront into a stylish residential, retail, cultural and tech hub. His son, Jed, chief executive of their firm Two Trees, is now re-imagining Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar refinery as a multiuse complex.
THE PROVOCATEUR The artist Kara Walker creates subversive works on power, oppression, racial identity, sexuality and violence through charcoal drawing, collage, painting and a renowned, sphinxlike sugar sculpture, “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” at the crumbling Domino sugar factory in 2014.
HIGH GLOSS Emily Weiss, a tech-savvy beauty writer, got the kiss of approval from millions of millennials clicking on her blog, “Into the Gloss,” which led to Glossier, an e-commerce, low-cost cosmetic line.
THE WRITER’S WRITER Colson Whitehead won the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction and a Pulitzer for “The Underground Railroad,” a high-concept imagining of an actual underground route of escape for 19th century slaves.
THE AGITATOR Jumaane D. Williams, a Democrat and self-described “activist-elected official,” started representing the 45th Council District in Brooklyn in 2009. He is an outspoken advocate for immigration rights, police reform, affordable housing and anti-gun-violence measures.
THE PACESETTER Mary Wittenberg, a lawyer-runner, was the first woman president of New York Road Runners, developing initiatives to make the city’s marathon — the world’s largest — popular as a spectator sport.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.Since the legendary chaos of 1970s and ‘80s, New York has evolved to the point where the city’s “Disneyfication” is taken as a matter of public record. Read Full Story