The History Of New York Times Crosswords

Solve the following Crossword clue: The best Crossword puzzles in the world. (3 letters)

Answer: NYT.

It is with no doubt that New York Times Crosswords stand out as the most popular crosswords puzzles. Indeed, it kept challenging readers for more than 75 years thanks to its witty and smart clues. It gives players Goosebumps once they solve and fill in all the squares.

Surprisingly, when crosswords emerged in the late 1910s, the NYT redaction team -whose puzzle is now famous- withdrew the opportunity to join the party as they labeled the new trend as a primitive sort of mental exercise and a sinful waste.

The Turning Point: Pearl Harbour Bombing

The bombing of Pearl Harbour has sent Americans into turmoil. Indeed, the accident shocked the nation and caused shockwaves of fear and anger in every home in the USA. During the era of this bombing, millions of Americans were scared and worried about their safety.

Americans needed a moral boost and distraction to cope with this gloomy setting. Thus, Arthur Hays Sulzberger who is a long-time crossword fan attempted to convince NYT features editors to run a crossword puzzle each Sunday whether primitive or not. He urged that the revolutionary feature of crosswords would pull people’s mind off the war and offer them a significant medium when they are stuck in their bomb shelters as he said “it is possible there will now be bleak blackout hours– or if not that then certainly a need for relaxation of some kind or other. You can’t think of your troubles while solving a crossword”.

NYT crosswords launched:

The New York Times finally decided to join the fun with the first puzzle run Sunday, February 15, 1942. In fact, NYT became the last major metropolitan daily newspaper in the country to run a crossword puzzle. The main goal was to divert the attention of people from wars.

During the 40s, NYT crosswords were published every Sunday. It is Margaret Farrar who will become the first editor of NYT crosswords and to be the Grande Dame of the American crosswords for a 27-year period.

In fact, Ms. Farrar established a new standard and added value for crosswords by advancing the quality of the constructions and by scrupulous editing. Her innovations excited the public and drove the puzzle into a virtual madness among readers.

On Sept. 11, 1950, the paper started to run a crossword puzzle daily. It consisted of a 15 by 15-square crossword.

NYT Evolution:

After retirement of Ms. Farrar in 1969, there have been two editors of the Crossword puzzle which are Will Weng and Eugene T. Maleska.

When Will Weng took over the command of NYT, he included intriguing and sly humor to the clues and additional challenging to the themes such his famous saying “‘Good Company on lazy Sunday mornings’.
On Feb. 28, 1977, Eugene T. Maleska became The Times’s third crossword editor. He brought a state-of-the-art level of culture and seriousness to the puzzle. He left a large inventory of new puzzles with his regular cluemaker’s exactitude and puckishness.

Overall, we can safely assert that both Will Weng and Eugene Maleska followed Ms. Farrar’s footsteps and they equally contributed to the growth of this popular game; before Will Shortz took the coveted reins in 1993.

Will Shortz Becomes Fourth Editor of the Crossword

Before coming on board of NYT, Will Shortz had been a popular figure within the crossword world. In fact, he directed the first American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The contest was held in Stamford and it turned into an annual contest as well as the biggest crossword in the world.

On Nov. 21, 1993, Will Shortz took the reins of NYT crosswords. Since that, he gained universal fame, taking the puzzle to the next level. He brought countless features such as: not only he expanded the range of contributors but he added their bylines to the daily puzzle, raised the pay and more importantly he included more joyful themes and clues. Overall, he based his work on one slogan which ‘A tradition of culture and quality’

Fun Fact : Will Shortz is the pure definition of Avant-garde. He is innovative in his personal creative way. In fact, the current Editor of NYT crosswords is the only “academically accredited puzzle master” in the world. Guess what? He designed the degree in “enigmatology” himself. It’s such a specialized degree that does not even have an entry in dictionaries or is not even taught in universities. Only Will shortz holds it.


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