Long before he became the internationally known Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams had a favorite saying about haters and waiters. Sometimes it’s used for inspiration, like in 2018, when he told Brooklyn College graduates, “Let your haters be your waiters!” In other cases, it’s a kind of rebuke, a cautionary tale for those who doubt him. “As a little boy, as a police officer, as a state senator, as the borough president, as the mayor, all I know is, all my haters become my waiters when I sit down at the table of success,” Adams told a heckler earlier this year.
The mayor’s haters are easy enough to spot. But who are the other people sitting at Adams’s table? What do they know that the haters and waiters don’t? The Table of Success is Hell Gate’s attempt to give readers insight into who is in Adams’s orbit, how they’re related, and why it matters.
We chose these table members using our own proprietary alchemy, not unlike a certain members-only nightclub frequented by the mayor—loyalty, power, visibility, personal relations, business dealings, and synergy with the brand of Adams’s New York all played a role in their selection. Some members of the table have analogues in every mayoral administration—real estate barons, party machers, and police chiefs have always enjoyed a seat at this table, no matter who is at the head. Others feel more unique to this moment of extreme precarity and inequality—Instagram clout-chasers, crypto-evangelists, and federally indicted clergymen.
In response to multiple requests for comment for this project, a spokesperson for the mayor emailed us a statement: “As Mayor Adams often says, our administration has the best, most dedicated team. The mayor expects everyone working in city government to give their best every day to make the city work better for working-class New Yorkers, and our senior leadership and those who have worked with the mayor for a long time exemplify that. We will continue to follow the guidance he gives often: ‘Stay focused, no distractions, and grind.’”
The Table of Success is a living document, and we’ll keep adding names and faces, scouring old news reports, and calling up sources. (Are we missing someone? Drop us a line.) By plotting out as much as we can, we aim to be a readable resource for New Yorkers trying to make sense of this bold new “City of Yes.”
Hell Gate is Adlan Jackson, Nick Pinto, Max Rivlin-Nadler, Christopher Robbins, Esther Wang, and Katie Way.
Type Investigations helped make the Table of Success possible, with editing by Maha Ahmed, Cassi Feldman, and Aviva Shen and research by Iqra Salah and Nina Zweig. Our fact-checkers were Alma Beauvais, Jael Goldfine, Kadal Jesuthasan, Paige Oamek, and Iqra Salah.
This project was funded by the Wayne Barrett Project at Type Investigations. Click here to learn more about the project and Wayne’s work.
Design, development, and illustration by Partner & Partners
Cover art photo credits: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office; Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office; Caroline Willis/Mayoral Photo Office; AP Photo/Kevin Hagen; Erik Pendzich / Alamy Stock Photo; AP Photo/Mary Altaffer; Johnny Nunez/WireImage