This whole thing began 25 years ago, back in 1993.
Do you remember where you were in '93? Perhaps you were in swaddling clothes, or wondering why the IRS had just granted full tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology, in junior high, or listening to "Loser" by Beck, or studying for the bar exam, or expecting your first child, or loading paper into your dot-matrix printer, or rooting for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to win their third NBA title in a row, or wearing flannel and ripped jeans, or some mix of the above.
In 1993, the Unabomber's brother had yet to turn him in. Bill Clinton was inaugurated the 42nd US president. Chance the Rapper was born. "Beavis and Butthead" premiered on MTV. Monica Seles was stabbed during a tennis match by a crazed Steffi Graf fan. Dizzy Gillespie died. Jurassic Park was released—going on to gross $914 million worldwide at the box office. Fighting broke out in the former Yugoslavia. Nirvana played a set on "MTV Unplugged," setting the bar for all future performances on that show. ATF agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, ending a 51-day siege; 76 Branch Davidians died.
I was working at Mumbles, a bar on the Upper East Side. In mid-March, New York City was digging out from a foot of snow that had been dumped in what was dubbed the "Storm of the Century." (Pundits get a little overexcited toward the end of centuries and millennia; there's always a nomenclature fever around Something of the Century this or Something of the Millennium that. Remember the technological end-of-times that Y2K was predicted to be? How we love to live in a state of apocalyptic expectation.)
It being March in New York City, the much-anticipated holy day of inebriation known as St. Patrick's Day was upon us. As Mumbles was at the end of the parade route, it really lived up to its name as tipsy parade-goers got stinko. One such reveler, a New York City police officer in uniform, was so wasted he accidentally discharged his firearm into a urinal. Its destruction caused localized flooding, which I had to clean up. I had just moved back to the city of my birth—but I was already plotting my escape to the Hudson Valley, where I had gone to college. (Go Hawks!)
While I was mopping up bathrooms in Manhattan, Chronogram cofounders Jason Stern and Amara Projansky had stars in their eyes. Here's how Jason described the magazine's founding moment in the 20th anniversary issue back in 2013:
I remember well the moment the idea of Chronogram first occurred.
It was almost dawn on a balmy night in July of 1993. Amara and I had been lying in the grass all night, talking about the future. We were college dropouts living in a spiritual community, unsure of what we would do "in the world."
The stars were bright and we identified some constellations. Following the line described by Orion's belt downward I pointed out Sirius, just as it rose above the horizon. It was as though the star itself conveyed an idea.
"We should start a magazine," I said as we looked at the dual star.
"Yes," said Amara, as though it was obvious.
Chronogram was launched in 1993 with a simple premise: Provide readers with a guide to cultural events in New York's Hudson Valley. In the 25 years since, Chronogram has evolved from a flimsy zine launched by a couple of 20-somethings into Luminary Media, a multimedia company with four in-house titles and custom publishing, event, and marketing agency divisions. Our work now includes social media management, marketing communications, and business consulting—specialties we never could have foreseen ourselves offering a decade ago. But what's fueled this growth is the brand equity of Chronogram. The publication's voice and role as curator of the Hudson Valley lifestyle extends like a halo over all of our projects.
- The first-ever issue of Chronogram: October/November 1993
Chronogram has evolved through many small iterations. The first issue, in October/November 1993, was a Mad Libs-style flip book on newsprint. It was 72 pages, and a compact eight-by-five inches. (A size, one reader noted, that fits equally well in your back pocket or on the back of your toilet. Some referred to the early version of the magazine as "that little thing.")
We love what Chronogram has become in the past 25 years: a storyteller for an evolving region full of entrepreneurs, artists, makers, thinkers, and doers. And our reader surveys consistently indicate that the magazine's design and editorial are well-aligned with our readers and serve as a kind of calling card for the region. A typical reader comment: "I was hesitant about moving out of New York City, but when I saw a copy of Chronogram, I knew I could live here." (Some might suggest that we've been too successful on that count, especially when the Hudson Valley is referred to as "Brooklyn North." Apologies on that count.)
In 1996, I moved back upstate and took a job with Chronogram as a distribution agent, dropping magazines at locations across Dutchess County out of my '88 VW Fox (RIP Esme). I gradually took on various editorial duties and became Big Cheese Editor a couple years later. And here we are, 297 issues in, and still cranking along. It's been a wondrous and interesting quarter-century tracking the evolution of the Hudson Valley in these pages. And we're just getting started.