In the 1970s New York City faced what would later be recognized as one of the worst fiscal crises in its more than 400 year history. Lew Rudin, a charismatic real estate developer passionate about the city and its people, felt compelled to take action.

On a cold winter day in early 1971, Rudin sat down at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, along with many other passionate New Yorkers, for what is now famously known as “the original power breakfast.” At his side, was the dynamic and civic-minded hotelier Robert Tisch. The two were anguished over the dire straits the city had succumbed to, so they hatched a plan. They galvanized a group of more than 125 executives from a broad range of sectors to find the answers that would help get their city back on its feet as well as discover ways in which they could combine efforts and resources to create a brighter future for the City of New York.

Within weeks, the Association for a Better New York was born, taking on the unprecedented role of tackling solutions to the city’s social issues, work that had previously been deemed the domain of city agencies.

One of ABNY’s first initiatives was “Operation Clean sweep” which encouraged thousands of building owners on the West Side of Manhattan to have their own janitorial staffs sweep the pavement and gutters in front of their properties every day. It was a simple request that led to spectacular results. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, ABNY became active in improving virtually every area of municipal life from transportation to education. ABNY spearheaded the legendary I LOVE NY campaign for New York City and New York State. Rudin personally handed out thousands of Golden Apple lapel pins. In the process, he affectionately became known as “Mr. New York.” Lew Rudin was a tireless advocate for New York City and its people until his death in 2001.

Rudin’s legacy of service, personal responsibility and communal accountability live on in our work today.


ABNY Historical Documents

A Western Union Telegram invited city leaders to the first ABNY meeting.
View the original invitation ›


In 1972 ABNY’s founder, Lew Rudin, gathered a group of private sector leaders around a breakfast table to discuss how they could alleviate the financial and social ills plaguing the residents, workers and communities of New York City. Today, that tradition continues and has become a New York institution known as the ABNY “Power Breakfast.” ABNY breakfasts host hundreds of New Yorkers from both the private and public sectors. The breakfasts create an environment that generates conversation and inspires action around tough local, state and national issues. ABNY breakfasts offer an opportunity for elected and government officials, as well as civic and business leaders to present the ideas and policies they believe can help foster a better New York. Always lively, timely and informative, topics discussed at breakfasts range from the economy and security to education and culture.ABNY events, which always include time for networking, provide a critical window for all New Yorkers to come together in common cause. Countless ABNY members have benefitted from contacts made at our events, which have helped them to develop and expand their operations.