New Yorkers

The Grand Gateway in Waiting: Envisioning the New-Old Penn Station

A photo of the original McKim, Mead and White Penn Station on display in the Amtrak concourse of Pennsylvania Station in New York, on Feb. 6, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—Nostalgia and heartbreak for the original Pennsylvania Station has persisted since it was destroyed over half a century ago. The beauty of that beaux-arts structure will probably remain a mythos in our imaginations until it is actually resurrected. Those who remember experiencing its magnificence still sigh. Those who discover a glimpse of its iconic grandeur in photographs—like the one displayed where it once stood in the current Penn Station—gasp in shock, “That was here?!”
Its classic columns, its pink granite walls, and its soaring vaulted glass ceilings made for a grandiose gateway into the city from 1910 to 1963. Its elegance engendered a sense of dignity and appreciation for anyone walking through it—for native New Yorkers, for visitors from near or far, for rich and poor, and for everyone in between.

Not since the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla, which had inspired the design of the general waiting room, had there been a larger room on earth. The great steel frames and arcades in the train shed were reminiscent of the Gare d’Orsay in Paris. The station was like a piece of ancient Rome and Paris in New York, distinguishing the country’s achievements.
Its grand scale would still be fit for over half a million people who come in and out of the city every day through the busiest transportation hub in the Western Hemisphere. “It’s marvelous to be in a space that is designed not only to hold that many people, but to also allow them to graciously flow through it in a way that makes sense,” Richard Cameron said, from his architectural design studio, Atelier & Co., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The dimensions of the original Penn Station were so grand, in fact, that even Grand Central Terminal (a.k.a. Grand Central Station) could fit inside its general waiting room. Under the great train shed, thick glass floors allowed natural light to reach all the way down to the lower level of train tracks (four floors down from street level). Even a crowd-fearing, claustrophobic person could feel delighted when coming out of a train and walking though a sunlit space like that.
A section collage by Richard Cameron showing the facade of Grand Central Terminal inside the waiting room of the original Penn Station designed by McKim, Mead & White. (Courtesy of Richard Cameron)
Cameron, who is one of the main proponents for rebuilding the original Penn Station designed by Charles McKim and the firm McKim, Mead & White, explained how classical structures of that scale create the feeling of being both inside and outside at the same time. You can experience that by going into Grand Central—one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.
It’s difficult to feel discouraged upon seeing the stars wheeling above us under a clear night sky in a remote area. “You get some sense of the created order of the universe that is just really comforting. You realize you are part of some much bigger thing, and it’s okay,” Cameron said. “That’s why the evocation of the stars in the vault of Grand Central Station, for example, is so brilliant. A vault like that is a representation of the heavens.”
More architecture designed to evoke a mini-version of experiencing a starry sky would make living in the city so much more humane—so much more livable.

But ask anybody how they feel about the current Penn Station and they will describe a combination of dread and misery in a million different ways. It’s confusing, ugly, and chaotic. The first thing most people think about is how to get out of there as quickly as possible. The Yale architectural historian Vincent J. Scully Jr. summed up the difference between the original and the current Penn Station best: “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”
Undoing a Cultural Crime
In the 1960s, the Pennsylvania Railroad was about to go bankrupt. The company decided to demolish the monumental structure to make way for renting its air space.
It took over three years (1963–1966) to demolish all of the solid granite and steel girders, and the classic statues and ornaments, over a platform installed to protect thousands of passengers who kept getting on and off the trains beneath it every day. “This was not just a matter of swinging the wrecking ball and knocking it down,” Cameron said.
Penn Station kept functioning, more or less, squished below, while Madison Square Garden, a high-rise office and sports complex, was built above it.
All the while, the nostalgia for what was lost continues. Several books have been written about it, including “Conquering Gotham” by Jill Jonnes; the photography book “The Destruction of Penn Station,” photographed by Peter Moore and edited by Barbara Moore; and a play based on the Moores’ book, “The Eternal Space” by Justin Rivers, which was recently performed off Broadway.
People picket Pennsylvania Station in New York on Aug. 2, 1962, in protest over plans to tear it down and build an office building on the site. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Cameron calls the demolition a cultural war crime. “The idea to destroy something that valuable and that important to the culture is staggering. … It was a lot more than terrible,” he said.
Perhaps it’s force of habit, or our ability to adapt so well, that leaves us numb to realizing how much architecture really affects us. When we think of other design possibilities for Penn Station, most New Yorkers probably think of something like the recently opened Oculus at the World Trade Center—with an interior that conjures cartoon images of the ribcage of a whale and an exterior that looks like a meat cutter. We wouldn’t immediately think of a beautiful beaux-arts design because, ironically, that idea is unusual and radical today.
Yet, there are plenty of successful reconstructions of classic, baroque, beaux-arts, and other styles of beautiful buildings. In Dresden, Germany, the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) was fully rebuilt (partly funded by Americans), along with many other baroque buildings that had been completely decimated during World War II. In London, the Palace of Westminster, where the U.K.’s Houses of Parliament meet, has been rebuilt more than once.
In Moscow, the great Cathedral of Christ the Savior, blown up under Josef Stalin, was rebuilt shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain. “Russia did this in the 1990s when it was barely functioning as a country,” Cameron said, “so it should not be beyond the capabilities of New York and of Americans to rebuild McKim’s Penn Station.”
Possibility Supplants Nostalgia
The thought that we could actually have the original Penn Station back again ( may seem outlandish, yet it would be difficult to come up with a more humane, a more timeless solution.
Richard Cameron, co-founder of Atelier & Co., an architectural design firm, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Jan. 19, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
As the principal of Atelier & Co. and co-founder of both the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and the Beaux-Arts Atelier, Cameron has a well-entrenched affinity for and knowledge of the timeless qualities of classical architecture. Together with his Atelier & Co. partner, Jason Grimes, he collaborates with infrastructure designer Jim Venturi of ReThinkNYC, as well as architects, engineers, artisans, and builders. The way he sees it, the original foundation, which is currently in place, is waiting patiently.
The rebuilt Penn Station would match and surpass the original. It would have all of the amenities and conveniences that we expect today, and it would be adaptable for the future.

“If you make something beautiful, people will want to be there, which means the value will go up.” Cameron is seeing it before many of us have yet to believe it. “We used to have the greatest train station in the country and we could again. There is no practical reason why that couldn’t be true,” Cameron said, with a big smile.
Richard Cameron, co-founder of Atelier & Co., an architectural design firm, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Jan. 19, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
McKim’s 353 drawings of Penn Station, housed in the New York Historical Society, can be digitized and used again. Some of the original granite that was dumped in the New Jersey Meadowlands could be recovered, and so forth. Like a phoenix, McKim’s crowning masterpiece could rise from the ashes of its predecessor, breathing new life into the city.
Spearheading the Vision
Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to turn the James A. Farley Post Office Building into a train hub and to renovate Penn Station. That announcement reignited Richard Cameron’s long-kindling idea.
The National Civic Art Society (NCAS) decided to spearhead the effort to rebuild McKim’s Penn Station. It would complement Cuomo’s plans for the Farley building (also designed by McKim). The non-profit organization brought into the effort Richard Cameron of Atelier & Co. as the architectural adviser, and Jim Venturi of ReThinkNYC as the adviser of transportation infrastructure.
Justin Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society, in New York on Feb. 10, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Cuomo’s renovation plan—to raise the ceiling of Penn Station by two feet and to add LED video screens showing puffy clouds—pales in comparison to the soaring glass vaulted ceilings of the McKim Penn station with views of the real sky. Cuomo’s renovation plan is a short-term solution, with technology that would become outdated in a decade, whereas a McKim Penn Station would last hundreds of years.
Time and Money
The president of the NCAS, Justin Shubow made a very rough estimate of two billion dollars to rebuild Penn Station to service 650,000 passengers a day. That is less than the four billion it cost to build the Oculus, which services only 50,000 passengers a day.
There are so many players involved to be able to predict how much time it would take, Shubow said. It took nine years for McKim’s Penn Station to be completed in 1910. Presumably, it would take less time to rebuild because the railway tunnels are already in place, the original foundation and salvaged granite could be reused, and computer-aided manufacturing would expedite building sections off-site.
Main Stakeholders
The following players would have to be on board: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the City Council, Port Authority, MTA, Amtrak, and Vornado Realty Trust. Vornado owns most of the property in the area, including Two Penn Plaza, the 29-story high-rise on the east side of the station.
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Shubow pointed out that their proposal, which is in the process of being formalized, would include the possibility of keeping Two Penn Plaza in place, but re-clad in classical masonry. “In an ideal world, Two Penn Plaza would come down, and Vornado would get air rights to build in the neighborhood,” he added.
To rebuild the station, Madison Square Garden would have to move and still be accessible by train. Some suggestions include moving it behind the Farley building, or onto the Hudson River, or in Sunnyside Queens as part of Jim Venturi’s infrastructure plan.
Next Steps
The National Civic Art Society is creating partnerships for public-private fundraising. It plans to produce an independent cost-benefit analysis, digitalize the original McKim, Mead & White building plans, and create a 3-D visualization of the station for a Kickstarter campaign to garner public support.
Although the practicalities of making a new McKim Penn Station a reality are numerous, that is the wonderful challenge the NCAS has taken upon itself with tenacious resolve.
Quoting the urban planner Daniel Burnham, NCAS President Justin Shubow said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
The James A. Farley Post Office Building on Eighth Avenue, New York on Feb. 12, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times). Nineteenth-century architect Charles McKim’s enduring designs include the Washington Square Arch, the Brooklyn Museum, the Morgan Library and Museum, the University Club, the Low Memorial Library of Columbia University, and the James Farley Post Office, among many other structures.
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Michelle Ross: Rejuvenating Our Modern Society Through Traditional Arts

NEW YORK—Classical violinist and composer Michelle Ross works surrounded by paintings, as the only musician among a group of visual artists.
When she composes, she does so as a resident artist in the Eleventh Street Arts gallery, adjacent to a workspace shared by painters and sculptors who have broken from the norm by creating representational art in the traditional style.
“There’s a sense of almost an electric energy, with everyone working together and trying to lift each other up,” Ross said of the connecting Grand Central Atelier (GCA), the art school that owns the gallery and focuses on training in the classical tradition.
To her, this place “feels like an oasis.”
It was a relief to find so many contemporary artists who are looking to the past and dedicating their lives to perfecting their craft, to attaining something ideal, just as classical musicians have done by playing Bach for hundreds of years.
“We’re all modern, contemporary, living, breathing artists,” she said, but “to acknowledge that this is classical in the sense of the tradition and the amount of depth that goes into learning the craft and being able to communicate with it, … [with the camaraderie], we have this constant reminder of how and why what we do is relevant.”
These artistic traditions provide a depth crucial to humanity, she added.
“I think people now really, really crave substance, whether we know it or not,” she said. “People want something with depth. We’re really craving it as a society.”
Violinist and composer Michelle Ross at Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan, New York, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Technology has made things easy for us, but without being aware of this, we let habits take over instincts and function in a way that is unnatural and not what humans really want to be, she said. Communication becomes distilled, detached, or passive.
“I remember when I first got an iPhone, I was very conscious of all those strange moments—’oh, I’m texting, but am I really talking to this person?’—but now that consciousness has gotten smaller and smaller, and I just accept it now,” she said.
Traditional arts, on the other hand, demand something from you—emotional honesty, engagement as a listener or viewer, or dedication to your craft as an artist. Once you’ve been opened up and have encountered that depth, you’re primed to reconnect with the world and others in a way you weren’t before, she said. “[You see] a new perspective, or it’ll capture your imagination and unlock this whole world that’s out there, and it can really transform you.”
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For her personally, the initial reaction to such depth is visceral; it gets at your heart. Then there’s the intellectual exercise, the immaculate structure, proportion, and architecture of the classical form, like what is found in the work of both Bach and great Renaissance painters, she said.
In her own way, she is on a mission to use music to help people to connect.
At the gallery, Ross curates a concert program as well. Many attendees are the artists working adjacent to her in the atelier, and after each concert there’s a Q&A session with the performers that sparks conversations about line and harmonic proportions and the overlaps between these classical forms.
“The energy is totally intoxicating for everyone,” she said. “It makes me perform in a different way, and for the audience, it’s a heightened experience.”

Violinist and composer Michelle Ross at Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan, New York, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Believing in Bach
Discussing art with artists is a highlight of Ross’s residency, but she truly believes in the power of great art to communicate, to speak volumes all on its own.
“I truly believe music speaks for itself,” she said.
In 2012, Ross was awarded a grant from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts, and she asked herself: What sort of artist did she want to be? What works would get her to that level?
Her answer was Bach because “you really have to bring courage and honesty to this music,” she said. “You can’t hide anything, you’re all by yourself. It’s almost like that idea of climbing the mountain, but every time you think it’s the peak, it’s really a new plateau.”
In addition to recording an album of all the Bach solo works for violin, since 2015 she has brought this music to the people of New York. She played in bakeries and offices, on boardwalks and ferries. The one caveat with playing in public spaces was that she would not do it in a noise-polluted environment, like an underground subway station. It needed to be quiet; otherwise it wouldn’t be fair to either the music or the listeners.
Violinist and composer Michelle Ross at Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan, New York, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Her experiences proved her hypothesis correct: “You just have to get people in a room and give it to them; that’s enough. This music withstands time.”
She remembers conversations with New Yorkers who did not look at all like they had been listening while she was playing, but were actually quite moved and engaged, and shared their thoughts with her afterwards. She remembers people bursting into applause, the hugs and smiles. In addition to acquainting people on the street with Bach, she was exercising her performance muscles, as the experience was completely different from being removed from people and on a stage.
“Each time was unique and taught me something different about performing,” Ross said.
In the last few years, Ross has worked on growing as a composer as well.
She remembers a time when, as a young teenager, music would just pour out of her, and she wrote easily. Then during her studies at Columbia, she put off composing for a while. The more time that passed, the scarier it was for Ross to come back to it. She feared she had lost her voice, until one rainy day at a music festival when she just sat down at a piano and started playing.
Maybe it was because she wasn’t a pianist, so there was no intimidating inner critic to please, no need to quell her fear for perfection. Ross recorded her improvisations and was glad for it, because even though it wasn’t until months later that she found the courage to listen, she realized then that, yes, she did have something inside her worth saying.
It’s been a journey of writing and improving since then; she continued to improvise and collaborated with other music and dance groups until she built up the confidence to take herself seriously as a composer. Next, she will be taking one of her musical ideas that keeps coming back and sitting down with pen and paper to turn it into a string quartet.
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“It’s kind of exciting, scary,” she said. But it’s also reconnecting with the roots of classical music. “In Bach’s time, anyone who played music knew how to improvise, they understood harmony. … In Mozart’s time, you were expected to be able to improvise a cadenza.”
When Mozart wrote concertos, the virtuoso passages were denoted with a rest and it was up to the musician to deliver a solo with some flourish. Later, students requested he write in some passages that sounded improvised. For the concertos he did not write cadenzas for, later composers like Brahms and Beethoven took it upon themselves to do so.
Many of her musician colleagues are, like Ross was, scared to improvise because one sets such high expectations for oneself as a performer, and those carry over to other musical endeavors. She tries to dispel those fears. “I think if you’re a player, music is in you,” she said.
Violinist and composer Michelle Ross at Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan, New York, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
She is consciously working on composing in a traditional style now and sometimes won’t even bring her violin case into the gallery just so she’ll focus on composing, Ross said. It’s an amazing space to work in, surrounded by artists and their work, which seem to say to her, “Get to work!”
“Sometimes I say that I must be the luckiest violinist in New York,” she said.
A Forest of Romanticism
Having spent a year playing mostly Bach, Ross switched lanes and programmed a concert of Romantic music this January. Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, and Johannes Brahms were on the program she titled “I Bear no Grudge,” from a line of Robert Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” (“A Poet’s Love”), which was performed by baritone John Moore and pianist Adam Golka.
“I want to give them [the audience] the most intense experience possible,” Ross said. For her January concert, the idea was to drop everyone into a 19th-century forest of Romanticism with no end in sight.
Clara Schumann ended up on the program by a twist of fate, she said; Ross and pianist Adam Golka were preparing to sight read some Schubert pieces for the program when she found these pieces by Clara—Three Romances for Violin and Piano—that she had never heard.
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Brahms’s Horn Trio and Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” are heavy pieces, and the entire program is Romantic music. But Clara’s Romances contained a delicacy and innocence, being almost ingénue-like in character. This provided a lightness that became Ross’s guide through the heavy program.
The small gallery space was tightly packed with supportive audience members, who created a buzzy atmosphere of anticipation. The discussion afterwards centered on the topic of Romanticism and how artists may find it difficult to embody that spirit (which inundated the program) in today’s world, and the mindset and creative process the musicians undertook to interpret this Romanticism.
“This 19th-century Romanticism seems so very far away from the spirit of our culture,” said Jacob Collins, founder of GCA and leader in the contemporary realism movement, kicking off the discussion.
Moore, who sang “Dichterliebe,” mentioned an earlier experience he had in Munich and Bavaria while preparing Romantic repertoires. “I would hike,” he said. “It’s the earth. Once you walk on the ground those composers and those poets had walked on, it all makes sense. The color of the sky, the mists rising, and those morning of dense fog—it’s just magical.”

Collins offered Ross her residence position after she had played several Bach concerts at the gallery, over a year ago.
“It’s a parallel understanding of art and humanity,” he said. “These traditions came up together, and so for us as painters and draftsmen and sculptors … it’s such a delight for us to hear them and talk with them.”
French horn player Laura Wiener performed Brahms’s Horn Trio in E flat major with Ross and Golka at the January concert. She had been to concerts at the gallery before and found the atmosphere and audience there incredible.
“They’re so engaged and erudite and creative,” she said. They’re inspiring, too, as the artists work for years on end to develop their skills.
“They’re not doing it for any other reason than their own artistry, and that is an incredibly inspirational idea for us,” she said. “As musicians, we work for 10,000 hours to try to be vessels for tradition, and we’ll never be perfect vessels at that, but it’s a limitless quest. Painting is that way, too.”
In the future, Ross envisions bringing in composers to work alongside the visual artists and organizing concerts where the art on the walls was created directly in conjunction with the music performed.
Violinist and composer Michelle Ross at Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan, New York, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Ross’s album “Discovering Bach: Complete Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach” will be released by Albany Records on March 1.
The next Eleventh Street Arts (46-06 11th St., Long Island City) chamber music concert will be held on May 4.

Mario Cuomo, three term NY governor who twice turned down presidential runs dies at 82

Mario Cuomo, the silver-tongued, three-term New York governor who twice declined entreaties to run for president, has died. He was 82.

He died today at home in Manhattan, the New York Times reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. His son, Andrew, was was sworn in to his second term as governor hours earlier in the day. During his inaugural address, Andrew Cuomo said his father was too sick to attend and that he went through the speech with him the night before. He had those attending at One World Trade Center in Manhattan give a round of applause for his dad.

“He couldn’t be here physically today, my father,” Andrew Cuomo said. “But my father is in this room. He is in the heart and mind of every person who is here.”

A two-time failed candidate for public office before upsetting heavily favored New York City Mayor Edward Koch in the 1982 Democratic primary for governor, Cuomo used his gubernatorial bully pulpit to challenge President Ronald Reagan, who said that “the most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Cuomo’s biggest pulpit was the podium at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, where he stood as the keynote speaker and delivered an address that garnered national acclaim and instantly transformed him into a potential presidential candidate.

He went after Reagan’s declaration that America was a “shining city on a hill” by declaring that “not everyone is sharing” in this largesse.

“In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it,” Cuomo said. “Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn’t show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.”

‘Social Darwinism’

He tried to contrast the two political parties, saying that Republicans believed “in a kind of social Darwinism,” in which it should take care of the rich and have their wealth trickle down to the middle-class and poor.

“The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail,” Cuomo told a cheering audience of delegates and party leaders. “We Democrats believe in something else. We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact.”

‘Progressive Pragmatist’

Though considered the eloquent voice of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, Cuomo shunned that label, calling himself a “progressive pragmatist,” and trumpeting the tax cuts he championed during his first term in office. He also acknowledged that there was a limit to how much Americans would pay for public programs, declaring in his 1983 inaugural address that, “We should have only the government we need, but we have and must insist on all the government we need.”

Cuomo opposed the death penalty and went to Notre Dame University in 1984 to say that being a good Catholic did not require him to use his power as governor to carry out the church’s teachings on abortion, such as backing a total ban on abortion and stopping poor women from receiving government help to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

“To assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful,” Cuomo said. “We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might someday force theirs on us.”

He continued, “Are we asking government to make criminal what we believe to be sinful because we ourselves can’t stop committing the sin?”

Potential President

It was Cuomo’s eloquence that earned him a national following and made Democrats across the U.S. swoon at the possibility that he would seek the White House.

His 1984 convention keynote address placed him atop lists of potential Democratic presidential candidates in both 1988 and 1992. He declined to run both times, the second time as a plane waited on the Albany Airport tarmac to fly him to New Hampshire to enter the first-in-the-nation primary.

When Cuomo did return to the convention podium eight years after his keynote address, he was there to nominate Bill Clinton for the White House. Cuomo later turned down an offer from Clinton to nominate him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and left public office after losing his 1994 re-election bid to Republican state Senator George Pataki.

Mario Matthew Cuomo was born in Queens, New York, to Italian immigrants. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates to a professional baseball contract, though never made it out of the minor leagues. He dropped the sport after being hit in the head with a baseball.

Political Start

He graduated from St. John’s University in 1953 and its law school in 1956. After representing two neighborhood groups in zoning disputes, then-New York City Mayor John Lindsay asked him in 1972 to mediate a controversy over public housing in Forest Hills, Queens. Cuomo chronicled the dispute and his successful efforts to resolve it in “Forest Hills Diary,” the first of several books, including a children’s tome, that he would write.

Democratic Party leaders nominated Cuomo for lieutenant governor in 1974, though he lost the primary to state Senator Mary Ann Krupsak, who later became the first woman elected to statewide office in New York when the ticket headed by Hugh Carey defeated Republican Governor Malcolm Wilson. Once in office, Carey appointed Cuomo secretary of state.

In 1977, Cuomo sought to become New York City mayor. He lost twice to Koch, first in the Democratic primary and then, as the nominee of the state’s Liberal Party, in the general election.

New Ticket

The following year, after Krupsak challenged Carey in the Democratic primary, Carey replaced her on his ticket with Cuomo. The Carey-Cuomo ticket won in November.

When Carey declined to seek a third term in 1982, Koch entered the race with the prodding of Rupert Murdoch and the New York Post. The rest of the Democratic field cleared out with the exception of Cuomo. With virtually the entire party establishment lined up behind Koch, Cuomo asked son Andrew to run his campaign.

Koch gave an interview to Playboy magazine in which he described the state capital of Albany as “small town life at its worst,” called the suburbs “sterile,” and described rural New Yorkers as “wasting time in a pickup truck” or driving “20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a Sears Roebuck suit.” Cuomo won the primary, then defeated Republican Lewis Lehrman in the general election to become the state’s 52nd governor.

Reelection Bids

Four years later, still basking in the glow of his convention keynote address, Cuomo polled 65 percent of the vote against Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke, then a record for the highest percentage for a New York gubernatorial nominee. Cuomo won a third term in 1990, defeating Republican Pierre Rinfret and Conservative Party nominee Paul London.

His 1994 bid for a fourth term ended at the hands of Pataki, who was carried into office by the same nationwide Republican landslide that ended 40 years of Democratic majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cuomo returned to practicing law and continued to speak out nationally on issues. In February 2011, he was chosen by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland to mediate a $1 billion legal fight between Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating the firm of Bernard Madoff, and the owners of the New York Mets, accused of benefitting from the con man’s Ponzi scheme.

Besides Andrew, Cuomo and his wife, Matilda, had a son Chris, who as of November 2014 co-hosted the CNN morning show “New Day,” and daughters Maria, Margaret and Madeline.