New Yorkistan

New Yorkistan


“The beauty of New York is that it is a mishmash. Everybody is running around with a different costume and a different story.” ~ Maira Kalman

“New Yorkistan” is the title of the cover art for the 10 December 2001 edition of The New Yorker. It was created by Maira Kalman in collaboration with illustrator Rick Meyerowitz and is, according to the American Society of Magazine Editors, #14 on the list of the top 40 magazine covers of the past 40 years.

The design depicts the boroughs of New York City, as well as individual neighbourhoods within the city, giving each a name a funny mixture of Yiddish, Farsi, and New Yorkisms based on the history or geography of that area of the city e.g. Lubavistan, Kvetchnya, Irate, Irant, Mooshuhadeen, Schmattahadeen, Yhanks, Feh, Fattushis, Fuhgeddabouditstan, Hiphopabad …

Maira, who grew up somewhere near Upper Kvetchnya and Rick, who is originally from around Ptooey, both now live in Artsifarsis. According to Maira, the whole map began in fun. ”We were on our way to a party in Westchester County,” she said. Driving through the Bronx, she suddenly called out: ”Bronxistan.” And the names started flowing from there.

Some Background: By early November 2001 the people of New York had settled into a deep funk. The ramifications of September 11 had set in and the war against the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan. When the New Yorkistan cover came out, “suddenly a dark cloud seemed to lift” (according to a glowing 8 December 2001 piece by Sarah Boxer in the New York Times). New Yorkers felt able to laugh again. They went mad for the map. They shared it. The magazine disappeared from newsstands in two days, becoming the best selling issue of The New Yorker in history.


New York Times, Critic's Notebook; A Funny New Yorker Map Is Again the Best Defense, Sarah Boxer, 8 December 2001


1. New Yorkistan Original Artwork (Final)
2. Maira's Doodle
3. Century Association Napkin Sketch
4. Busy Version by Rick
5. Simplified by Maira
6. Rick Adds Colour
7. Penultimate Sketch
8. New Yorker Cover, 10 December 2001
9. Rick Meyerowitz & Maira Kalman in 2007

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