It is difficult to imagine a more daunting task for a newspaper editor than planning the next day’s front page when the world has just witnessed humanity’s crowning achievement: the successful landing of two of its kind on an alien world. The headlines you write, the photos you place, the prose you edit—you are not simply working to sum up the immensity of the moment for morning commuters. The page you make will be hung on walls, folded into scrapbooks, passed onto grandchildren, and eventually stand in for even the most potent of human memories.
In July 1969, much of that job at The New York Times fell to Abe Rosenthal, then the paper’s associate managing editor. (Less than two weeks later, he’d be named managing editor, at the time the paper’s top editorial position.) The design was handled by Louis Silverstein, the paper’s art director, who was called upon for layout duty “when a story of historic dimensions came along.”