Forty years ago, in early February 1976, a newsletter was printed on yellow paper, stapled and sent out to housing advocates around New York. The design was utilitarian. The writing was straightforward. This was a serious publication for people with a job to do, namely the community-led effort to save New York City, neighborhood by neighborhood, from the aftermath of the 1970s fiscal crisis. The name across the top was “City Limits.”
Over the subsequent four decades, City Limits would grow to become the city’s leading source for policy news and investigative reporting on the issues facing low-income communities. Its pages chronicled toils and triumphs: AIDS and crack, hip-hop and activism, homelessness and welfare reform, 9-11 and 421-a. Led by editors who who went onto become leading journalists, writers and thinkers—including Tom Robbins, Annette Fuentes, Lisa Glazer, Beverly Cheuvront, Doug Turetsky, Andrew White, Glenn Thrush, Annia Ciezadlo, Tracie McMillan, Alyssa Katz and many others—City Limits has over the years had different designs and voices but It has always been consistent in its dedication to reporting on the New York that most media don’t cover.
That city is, of course, a developing story—one that City Limits is busy covering as we speak. A lot has changed since 1976, but not the need for a news outlet dedicated to gritty details and grassroots truths.
Starting this week, we’ll take a look back at the stories, images and people who have made City Limits what it is. In the coming months there’ll be Anniversary events including panel discussions, a City Limits walking tour, a service project, meet ups and more. Our celebration will culminate in September with our 40th Anniversary Gala, where we will honor legendary journalist Wayne Barrett and crusading labor leader Henry Garrido—two people whose work reflects the principles that have guided City Limits over the years: courage, curiosity and a commitment to justice.
Chalk it up to ethics, modesty, shyness or fear: Whatever the reason, reporters usually resist making themselves the story. There are times when one can’t avoid it, however. Today is one of them. I’m proud to be part of the history and future of City Limits.
You are also part of the New York story we’ve been privileged to help tell. Thank you for being part of City Limits past and present, and the future we all are just about to write.
Executive Editor and Publisher