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2020-12-18 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine

Avenue's Year in Review: The Best of Notorious New Yorkers

Avenue's Year in Review: The Best of Notorious New Yorkers

Photos by Bob Peterson/Getty Images, Susan Wood/Getty Images, and Thomas J. O'Halloran/Library of Congress

One of Avenue‘s most popular columns is Notorious New Yorkers, which tells the story each issue of one of our city’s more infamous inhabitants. (We always pick one who is safely dead.) From mobsters to heiresses, these were the rogues we loved learning about this year.


When the 19th-century nonconformist Hetty Green stormed Wall Street, she didn’t ask for a seat at the table, she took it. That America’s first female tycoon also eschewed any future claim as a feminist hero, or any laudable legacy at all, only adds to her enigma. Read full story.

Hetty Green
Hetty Green at the wedding of her daugheter, Sylvia, to Matthew Astor Wilks
Photo by Getty Images


While legendary mob kingpins such as Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Seigel, and Charles “Lucky” Luciano have come to dominate gangster lore, it was Arnold Rothstein who, in the early years of the 20th century, put the “organization” in organized crime. Rothstein was the first to treat his criminal dealings as “big business,” with attention paid to every detail. Read full story.

Rothstein behind his desk
Photo by Everett Collection/Alamy


The glamorous heiress was a wild child, and surely a handful for her equally notorious father, Col. Henry Huddleston Rogers II. Nevertheless, he bequeathed her his infamous “Port of Missing Men” — a summer estate in Southampton. Read full story.

Rogers wearing jewelry of her own design
Photo by Horst P. Horst, via Getty Images


Alicia Corning Clark was capable of packing a lot of drama into a year. In the span of just two months in 1961, she divorced a prominent actor and married a wealthy heir, only to become a widow 13 days later, inheriting her second husband’s $10 million fortune. This was in addition to suing her former lover, John F. Kennedy, and plotting to extort his father. Read full story.

alicia corning clark
Alicia Corning Clark steps out with her divorce lawyer
Photo by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà


In 1977, Larry Levenson opened a space for swingers to mingle (and get down) in the basement of a small hotel on East 23rd street. This was the first Plato’s Retreat. Avenue tracks the club’s rise and fall. Read full story.

Plato's Retreat
Larry Levenson in a bathrobe at Plato’s Retreat 1980
Photo by Donna Ferrato


Not every individual on this list is notorious, but their bitter battles are. These powerful New Yorkers cherish their grudges like family heirlooms. Read full story.

Truman Capote and Slim Keith
Photos by Ron Galella/Getty Images, Horst P. Horst/Getty Images, and George Rose/Getty Images
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