Word Up: Youth Fills in the Blanks as Crosswords Turn 100

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The crossword puzzle turns 100 on Dec. 21, but the form is staying hip.

Young puzzle constructors like Columbia University student Finn Vigeland, who had his first puzzle accepted by the New York Times when he was 18, are bringing a fresh vocabulary and quirky sense of humor to the art form. With constructors like him, the stately grid is being invaded by the likes of “you do you," “tankini," and hip-hop.

“It’s particularly exciting,” said Vigeland, “knowing that the general New York Times readership doesn’t think about Flo Rida on a regular basis, but that they might have to in order to solve this crossword puzzle,” he said, referring to the American rapper.

In this piece, Vigeland talks about creating a 100th-anniversary crossword commissioned by the Columbia School of Journalism. “The idea was to connect 1913 with 2013,” explained Vigeland. “So I’ve looked at some of the major points in history from a hundred years ago, and I’ve tried to connect them with some of the fun pop culture highlights from this past year.”

Finn Vigeland (photo by Kiera Wood)

Want to try your luck? You can find the puzzle here.

And don’t worry, you’re not too old. Zoe Wheeler, 23, who made this one (featured on the American Values Club Crossword site, edited by Benjamin Tausig) said: “what ever word you put into your puzzle, you want it to be gettable by everyone.”