Trying to determine the 100 most influential New Yorkers was like anguishing over a list of wedding guests: every person we invited meant someone else had to stay home. As we began whittling a quarter-century’s worth of New York notables, stumpers abounded and heated debates ensued. We might still be arguing if we hadn’t come up with a test for each one: Did this person move the needle somehow? Is there something of significance that he or she changed?
What follows is our list of the dealmakers, dreamers and visionaries who passed. Collectively, they’ve turned a once-great, declining metropolis into a place that crackles with possibility, that has a new tower on every block, a startup on every laptop and tourists choking every sidewalk (thanks for nothing, guys). Their ideas have defined the last 25 years, and quite likely those to come.