MEETING AT BILL’S: A week after more than 6,100 fans and friends signed a petition calling for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to name a Fifth Avenue and 57th Street corner in honor of Bill Cunningham, the mayor will do just that — if only for a while.
A street sign will be unveiled Wednesday afternoon by city officials, marking The New York Times on-the-street photographer’s favorite stakeout. The city’s salute for the lensman, who died last month at the age of 87, will remain for one week. Supporters plan to continue to work with city officials to try to establish a more permanent honor, which requires the approval of a vote by the City Council.
Cunningham regularly photographed the fashionable set from that corner, which is near Bergdorf Goodman and the Louis Vuitton flagship.
The Sunday New York Times turned its weekly Styles section into a commemoration of Cunningham, with remembrances of the photographer by his former subjects and colleagues. The one thing it was lacking were any of Cunningham’s actual photos. An item in the New York Post on Tuesday pointed out that Cunningham owned the rights to all his photos and claimed the Times has no rights to use them until his estate is settled. While he had nieces and nephews, there reportedly were no immediate heirs.
Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Harold Koda first cooked up the idea of a street naming for Cunningham a few years ago. The idea gained momentum last week after Nick Nicholson started a Change.org petition for a mayoral appeal. An acquaintance of Cunningham’s from crossing paths on the charity circuit for 30 years, Nicholson wanted to do something for the New York Times photographer who had done so much for the city.
Humble as he was, Cunningham was upfront about the purposefulness of the black tie events he covered. Accepting the Carnegie Hall Medal for Excellence in 2012, he said, “There are cynics who think these parties are just for ladies who like to dress up. That’s a lie. It’s not that way at all. It is an American tradition of giving back to a country that has given us everything.”