Bernays, Sonnenberg Make “New York City 400” List


Two legends of public relations made the Museum of the City of New York’s list of 400 prominent New Yorkers, assembled in honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival in the harbor.

Edward Bernays and Benjamin Sonnenberg both made the list. Howard Rubenstein did not, though the competition was stiff with major actors, politicians, academics, athletes and architects from all eras represented.

Bernays, author of the book “Propaganda,” is known for bringing his uncle Sigmund Freud’s ideas into PR for among many other things, getting women to smoke:

Edward L. Bernays (1891-1995)
An executive and pioneer in the field of public relations, he started as a press agent on Broadway, opened his own agency in 1919, and taught the first course on public relations at New York University in 1923.

Sonnenberg was the aristocrat of PR, known for entertaining friends, clients, and journalists in his huge mansion:

Benjamin Sonnenberg (1901-1978)
One of the first modern public relations men, whose work was, in his words, “fashioning large pedestals for small statues,” handled the p. r. needs of organizations from Philip Morris to CBS and was known for his private mansion, 19 Gramercy Park.

More after the jump:

In a profile of 19 Gramercy Park in a 2000 issue of the Times Magazine, his son Ben called it a “stage for his work.” Sonnenberg used the the house as massive counterweight to the negative image of the industry, “but to the public, the business I’m in still seems a flimflam, fly-by-night business. I want my house and my office to convey an impression of stability and to give myself a dimension, a background and tradition that go back to the Nile.”

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[Photo of the young Bernays from Wikipedia]