amNewYork Metro at 20: Check out some of our most memorable front pages through two decades

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Two vintage covers of amNewYork and Metro New York
amNewYork Metro

Over two decades, amNewYork Metro has brought you compelling stories on some of the biggest events to affect New York City.

Thinking back over the last 20 years, it is remarkable how much we’ve gone through together — the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, the worst financial crisis in generations, a ferocious superstorm named Sandy, a deadly pandemic that paralyzed New York, a volatile presidency involving the city’s most notorious businessman, three different mayors, two Super Bowl championships for the Giants, the Yankees’ 27th world title, and so much more.

The covers of amNewYork and Metro New York, later merged as amNewYork Metro, for these landmark moments in New York City have always reflected the power of the day’s biggest story, capturing not only the readers’ attention but also their imagination. Over the years, these great front pages reflect the incredible creativity and attention to detail of our teams of editors and art designers, whom we salute for always making us look our best over the years!

Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable covers from amNewYork Metro over the past two decades. 

The first covers

The first issue of amNewYork

amNewYork was the first free daily newspaper to hit the streets on Oct. 10, 2003 — with the goal of giving New Yorkers all the news they need to know about their city in as much time as it takes to get them to work in the morning. The big stories featured the indictment of Brooklyn Assembly Member Clarence Norman on grand larceny charges, and city officials fuming over idling buses around town. In the upper right-hand corner, a teaser featuring Yankees hurler Andy Pettitte noted the Bombers 6-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees would go on to win the series in seven games thanks to a walk-off home run in Game 7 by Aaron Boone, who two decades later manages the team.

The first issue of Metro New York in 2004.

Six months later, the first issues of Metro New York made it to the streets, and kicked off a rivalry between the two papers that would go on for the next 16 years. The lead story in the May 5, 2004 paper focused on security efforts for the Republican National Convention later that summer in New York. Metro also had welcoming op-ed from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who at that point was still in his first term in office.

The Oughts

‘OUTRAGE’ was the appropriate word to describe the outcry following the police shooting death of Sean Bell in Queens in November 2006. Bell had been gunned down outside a Queens strip club during an apparent confrontation with undercover NYPD members, who fired 50 rounds. Three of the five officers involved in the shooting were prosecuted, but ultimately found not guilty at trial.
The 2024 Knicks might be playoff contenders, but back in 2007, they were utterly atrocious — and fans pointed most of their blame at the team’s top executive, Isiah Thomas. Their sentiment was humorously conveyed in a 2007 cover, with fans demanding that the team “Dunk Isiah!”
The financial crisis in 2008 sent the economy “Off-the-Wall,” completely with a mortgage crisis that triggered the closure of Lehman Brothers and massive government bailouts.
History was made on Jan. 20, 2009, when Barack Obama was sworn in as America’s 44th president and the first Black chief executive.

The 2010s

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center, was killed by U.S. special forces on May 2, 2011 in a daring operation in Pakistan. Along with chronicling the mission, amNewYork was also at the World Trade Center site the following day, when President Obama placed a memorial wreath in honor of all those killed in the attacks.
Congress Member Anthony Weiner’s spectacular rise to power came to an embarrassing end in the spring of 2011, when he was caught up in a sexting scandal that would end with his resignation from office. The Weiner affair led to the kind of puns one would expect from a major New York newspaper.
Metro New York had guest editors, at various points, during its operation who would take the reins of an issue. In 2011, New York native Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta) was given the privilege of making a Metro New York issue all her own.
After decades of campaigning by LGBTQ+ groups, same-sex marriage became the law of the land in New York state in 2011. Metro New York covered the first weddings to take place at courthouses around the city.
New Yorkers were rattled and rolled by an earthquake in Virginia in August 2011 that shook up the entire Eastern Seaboard. In the Big Apple, office and government buildings were temporarily evacuated due to the tremor. No major damage or injuries were reported.
The horrific mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December 2012 shocked the city and country. Metro New York highlighted President Obama’s visit to the grief-stricken community and followed local memorials to the 26 children slain in the massacre.
One of the most hotly debated topics of the last decade was then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas and other sugary beverages at venues around town. The City Council adopted regulations limiting the quantities that could be sold to customers — but legal challenges ultimately led the ban to fizzle out.
Often, the front pages of amNewYork and Metro feature an advertiser with a major campaign. In 2013, amNewYork published a steamy ad campaign on the front page for H&M featuring Beyoncé.
With then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg leaving office after three terms, it was time for a change in 2013. New Yorkers elected then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to become the city’s 109th mayor after a surprisingly strong victory in the Democratic primary. He had plenty of help on the campaign trail from his children Donte and Chiara, and his wife Chirlane McCray.
Public outrage intensified in 2014 after a grand jury declined to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the police death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was choked out by police for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Though he was never tried criminally, Pantaleo would ultimately be terminated by the NYPD following a departmental review.
New Yorkers got a major medical scare in the fall of 2014 when a doctor who had recently returned from Africa contracted Ebola and became infected in New York. After isolation, he recovered, and the city dodged a major bullet.
Derek Jeter, one of the great Yankees, ended his career in true fashion — with a walk-off hit in his final game at Yankee Stadium in 2014. Six years later, he would be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame — though he would not officially be inducted until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s rich!” declared amNewYork in June 2015 the morning after businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump declared himself a candidate for president in 2016. After a raving announcement at Trump Tower in which he insulted Mexicans, not many took his candidacy seriously. That would turn out to be a mistake.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, visited New York in September 2015 and greeted thousands of New Yorkers upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport. The pontiff would visit the 9/11 Memorial and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and hold a Mass at Madison Square Garden, during his brief stay in town.
The 2015 New York Mets made an improbable run to the National League pennant, and captured the hearts and imaginations of New Yorkers along the way. Metro New York paid homage to one particular Met, Daniel Murphy, who hit six home runs in as many consecutive postseason games in helping the Mets reach the World Series. Unfortunately, the magic ran out there, as the Amazin’s fell to the Kansas City Royals.
Former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton made history in 2016 when she became the Democratic nominee for president. She would face Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election — with the outcome assuring that a New York representative would occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. It did not go as many expected.
The election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 drew the outrage of New Yorkers. Days after his electoral college win over Hillary Clinton, thousands took to the streets rejecting Trump’s brand of exclusionary politics – in which he called for crackdowns on immigration and revoking LGBTQ rights.

A new day at amNewYork (and, later, Metro)

“It’s a new day at amNewYork,” the front page flag declared on Oct. 14, 2019, when the newspaper printed its first issue under the new management of Schneps Media, the community news group founded in Queens which by then had grown to more than 70 different publications in New York City and Long Island.
Less than three months after the amNewYork acquisition, Schneps Media bought Metro New York and its sister paper, Metro Philadelphia. Schneps moved to merge amNewYork and Metro New York into one paper — amNewYork Metro, creating the largest free daily newspaper in the nation’s largest city.
Within weeks of the merger, amNewYork Metro reported on the biggest story of the century: the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus, then without a proven vaccine or treatment, killed thousands of New Yorkers and forced shutdowns of most normal everyday activities. The scenes at hospitals were truly horrific, as morgues became so overloaded with bodies that refrigerated tractor trailers had to be brought in to store the dead.
By June 2020, COVID-19 cases began to plummet around town, and the city moved to resume some normal activities — such as outdoor dining to reopen restaurants, and socially-distanced outdoor events. The front page of amNewYork Metro summed up the message perfectly: “Come in, We’re OPEN (sort of).”
The viral video of George Floyd being choked to death by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020 sparked mass protests around the pandemic-stricken country. New York City was not immune, as it endured days of demonstrations that often included violent encounters with police and looting. The George Floyd protests were a watershed moment in the effort for greater racial justice in the city, and led to new police accountability laws to prevent brutality cases.
Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election — but the former president refused to accept defeat. On Jan. 6, 2021, a mob of angry Trump supporters — fueled by Trump’s lies about election fraud – stormed the Capitol as Congress jointly met to certify the election results. It marked the first interruption of the peaceful transfer of power since the Civil War. Hundreds of participants in the insurrection were arrested, prosecuted and jailed — and Trump himself would not only be unsuccessfully impeached a second time for inciting the insurrection, he would later be criminally indicted for his role in the chaos.
Two weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, President Joe Biden took office as the 46th president of the United States in a locked down Capitol. The new president sought to set a more reconciliatory tone in guiding the nation both out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political chaos of the Trump years. The inauguration was also historic for another reason: Kamala Harris took the office as vice president, becoming the first woman and South Asian American to hold the office.

The post-pandemic New York

High times came to New York in the spring of 2021 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature agreed upon a bill to fully legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The new law created a brand new cannabis industry in New York, with the aim of helping to lift up those who were negatively impacted by marijuana laws in past years.
Scandal rocked New York in 2021, when several former female aides accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. While Cuomo denied any wrongdoing, by August, his hold on power became untenable. He resigned as governor on Aug. 24, 2021, and his departure led to his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, taking the mantle as New York’s 57th governor — the first woman ever to hold the office.

In November 2021, New Yorkers elected then-Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as the city’s new mayor. He would succeed the outgoing Bill de Blasio the following January, with the tasks of leading the city’s pandemic recovery and battling a major uptick in crime.

New Yorkers were stunned in April 2022 when a gunman went on a shooting spree on the N train in Brooklyn, injuring more than 10 people The random shooting led to a citywide manhunt for the suspect, who was apprehended the day after. Frank James would ultimately be tried and convicted in federal court on murder charges for causing the mayhem.
Yankees fans had something to celebrate in 2022 as Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris’ American League single-season home run record with 62 big flies. Judge wound up hitting the historic long-ball on the next-to-last day of the season at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX. In recognition of the achievement, amNewYork Metro proudly declared Judge as “the new Sultan of Swat,” in the style of another Yankee legend, Babe Ruth.
In April 2023, Donald Trump became the first president criminally indicted in American history, as a Manhattan grand jury charged him with 31 counts of falsifying business records. The case, brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, alleged that Trump paid a former adult film actress hush money to cover up an alleged affair. As of amNewYork Metro’s 20th anniversary publication, Trump was on trial in Manhattan while awaiting on three other criminal cases brought against him last year in Georgia, Florida and Washington, DC, focused on election fraud, the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and mishandling classified documents.
One of the most eerie incidents in New York City weather history occurred on June 7, 2023, when heavy smoke from wildfires in Canada drifted southward and covered the city in a thick hazy blanket. During the afternoon hours, the skies turned orange as the sun’s light refracted through the smog. This untouched photo of the orange haze inspired our “Air-Pocalypse Now” cover which riffed on a famous poster for the movie “Apocalypse Now.”
Tens of thousands of migrants from Latin America and beyond have come to New York in the last two years seeking refuge and asylum. The city’s struggle to provide homes for them has become something of an “American Nightmare,” both for the city government and the migrants struggling to establish new lives in America.
New Yorkers were awed on April 8, 2024 by a solar eclipse that blocked out nearly 90% of the sun in the Big Apple. Thousands looked to the skies donning special glasses to take in the celestial phenomenon. It was the second such total eclipse in New York that amNewYork Metro covered in the last seven years, following the August 2017 eclipse in North America. But the city won’t see a lunar eclipse of this kind for another 29 years.