Colleagues of the late Bill Cunningham, the celebrated New York Times fashion photographer who died last month, joined New York City officials Wednesday in a ceremony to name a midtown street corner after him.
Before the unveiling of a sign that designates the northeast corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue as “Bill Cunningham Corner,” first lady Chirlane McCray commended the street photographer for capturing both haute couture and everyday New Yorkers. His body of work “democratized the concept of beauty and style,” she said.
Cunningham died on June 25 after being hospitalized for a stroke, The New York Times had said. He worked for the newspaper for 40 years and his photo spreads were a staple of the paper’s Style section.
“Bill Cunningham turned our sidewalks into runways and New Yorkers into models,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.”
That specific corner is a place where New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said Cunningham would photograph “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 Baquet.
The honor, however, is temporary. According to the mayor’s office, de Blasio only has the power to change a street name for a number of days.
An official and permanent street name change must be handled through the city’s legislative process.
The mayor’s office said it will work with the City Council, community and Cunningham’s friends on a permanent way to honor his legacy.