Posted by: Catadromy | June 29, 2020

I ♥ NY

Milton Glaser died recently. He was a well-known graphic designer, most famous for his design of I♥NY. He created this logo—possibly the first emoji—at a time when the city was at its lowest. We were living with white flight, urban decay, graffiti-drenched subways, garbage-strewn streets, landlords torching their own buildings to collect the insurance money, and New York teetering on the edge of bankruptcy—a situation epitomized by the headline in the New York Daily News: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

You gotta give the headline writers at the Daily News credit; they’ve come up with some beauts: “Pee Brain”, accompanied by a picture of Trump; “I’m With Stupid”, Trump and Sarah Palin; “Drop Dead, Ted”, featuring Ted Cruz; “Kicked In The Balls”, Tom Brady. But the best headline of all belongs to the New York Post: “Headless Body In Topless Bar.”

Two years later, in 1977, the city was plunged into darkness, courtesy of a blackout that lasted over a day on one of the hottest days (and nights) in memory. I watched as one apartment building after another went dark in a rolling wave and chaos descended. There was widespread mayhem and looting; many fires were set. The fear and violence were out of control. It was the final insult; a coup de grace.

But then, this:


But what does Glaser’s logo really mean? To me, it means that New York is forever eternal, forever here, forever my heart, forever my love. It’s easy to love New York when she’s doing well, when she’s booming, happy, one big loud party that everyone wants to be a guest at. But it’s not so easy to love her when she’s down and out. That’s what Glaser was getting at with this logo.

He created the logo in the back of a taxi, a few simple scratches on the back of an envelope (the envelope is now in MOMA’s permanent collection). He gave it away, because he thought it was ‘a little simple, nothing of an idea.’ How wrong he was.

Far from nothing, I♥NY has come to embody the very heart and soul of the city and those of us who love her.

It’s true that I no longer live in the city of my birth, but she will always be my home.



  1. I remember the 1977 blackout very well, but until his death and Obit this week,Milton Glaser was unknown to me. I agree that New Yorkers are always New Yorkers regardless of where they live. Loved your remembrance and perspective.

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