City Council Speaker, glass-ceiling smasher
Wed Sep 24 2008
Who are your favorite New Yorkers?
Christine Quinn: Patience and Fortitude, the lions at the New York Public Library. My favorite part of the holiday season is when they put the wreaths around them. Did you ever see the Mychal Judge documentary that Brendan Faye did? He talks about how he would like to walk up there regularly and stand across the street and just look at the lions and try to get patience and fortitude just from looking at them. And then my other favorite New Yorker is [AIDS activist] Barbara Hughes, who is, to me, one of the most inspiring New Yorkers because she’s someone who’s dedicated her whole life to many, many efforts of grassroots organizing, and she’s one of those organizers who never gives up, never stops organizing, and seems almost, there’s nothing that can get her to stop being focused and stop working really hard.
What is the biggest thing that’s happened to New York in the past 13 years, besides September 11?
Christine Quinn: I think the biggest thing is, in a way, kind of reflective of 9/11, which is the way the city dealt with the blackout. Everybody in the rest of the world probably thought this blackout would be like the last blackout, that the city would be chaotic and a mess and violent, and it was anything but that. And I think it was a really significant—not a turning point, because the city had come back—but I think it was a solidifying point.
What’s your favorite place or thing in New York?
Christine Quinn: My favorite places in New York are those secret gardens that you never knew were there. Like St. Luke-in-the-Fields, or the seminary on Ninth Avenue, these oases in the middle of this urban giant; they’re just amazing.
You have a dog, right? Who is she and what’s her favorite dog run?
Christine Quinn: Yes, Sadie, she’s a shar-pei/lab mix. Her favorite experience is when she gets to go to Central Park in the morning off-leash before 9am. But her favorite dog run is the Washington Square Park dog run. You can also go on Chelsea Piers off-leash before 9am—which she likes, though I get nervous because I’m always afraid she’s somehow going to slip through the fence into the river.
What’s your personal favorite moment in New York? Where were you, and what was happening?
Christine Quinn: I don’t have a moment, but I have to say my favorite New York moments are any time that Kim, my partner, and I just get to take a walk down streets that undoubtedly I’ve been on before, but you walk on them and it feels like it’s your first time ever on that street. So, if I’m lucky enough to get a couple hours where I can just take a walk down Hudson River Park, or just down streets I haven’t been on before, I just love it. That’s my favorite New York thing.
What is the future of New York? What are your hopes, and what needs to happen?
Christine Quinn: I think that the future of New York is limitless. Although it’s a city that obviously has problems and challenges, it’s the most resilient place in the world, it’s the most energetic place in the world and it’s the place with the most opportunity. Now, that said, we do have some challenges. The biggest one we have to wrap our arms around is our housing crisis, because one of the things that creates that energy and enthusiasm is the diversity of people and the young people who are constantly coming here to start their careers and lives—and that’s getting harder and harder given our housing crunch. So, I’m optimistic and I think the future of the city is limitless, but we need to make sure we get our housing crisis under control, or we will be somewhat limited by that.
What does Time Out mean to you?
Christine Quinn: Well, I talked about loving to find hidden gardens, like St. Luke-in-the-Fields and the seminary, and Time Out is kind of the magazine version of that, in that when you open up Time Out, it doesn’t talk about the parts of the city or the events in the city that are obvious. It talks about the events and the people and the aspects of the city that are a layer or two below, and those are the most exciting things, usually the most beautiful things and the things that I think are what really fuel the endless possibilities of our city.
Complete this sentence: New York is…
Christine Quinn: …the only place you would ever want to live.
You were the first woman and lesbian City Council Speaker, a wonderful and historic fact, but also one that the city seems to have quickly moved on from. What does that say about New Yorkers?
Christine Quinn: I do think New Yorkers have moved on from that fact, and I think that’s an endorsement of New York as the only place you’d want to live because it’s the most diverse place. It’s the place where you get judged by the contents of your character. When I was sworn in I said I was so proud that my colleagues and my city view diversity as a strength. I think the fact that this important event occurred—that I was elected the first woman, the first openly gay woman—that it occurred, and then everybody went right back to business, really shows that in New York, we embrace diversity, we know it’s part of our strength. We don’t just tolerate it—I hate that word, tolerance—we expect it. We require it as part of the fabric of our city.
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