What Makes Someone a New Yorker?

Weather: Sunny, with a high near 40.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Friday (Lunar New Year’s Eve).


ImageEric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president. 
Credit…Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times

“Go back to Iowa. You go back to Ohio.”

That was Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president who is expected to run for mayor, speaking at a Martin Luther King’s Birthday event.

“New York City belongs to the people that was here and made New York City what it is,” added Mr. Adams, who was born in Brooklyn.

His words drew applause from the audience in Harlem. Another speaker at the event, Representative Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan, echoed the sentiment, complaining about changes he has seen in Washington Heights.

He called Washington Heights “a working-class, immigrant neighborhood, one that I grew up in, and you see the stress of high rent,” noting the influx of “Starbucks and bike lanes and sushi.” (About 24 hours later, he said he supported bike lanes.)

But it was Mr. Adams’s words, which were featured on the front page of The Daily News, that ignited a fierce debate.

He appeared to pit the city’s long-running problems of affordability, gentrification and inequality against the city’s long-running tradition of welcoming newcomers and outsiders of all stripes.

[Mr. Adams sparked a conversation on what makes someone a New Yorker.]

But Mr. Adams is hardly the first person in New York to tread down this path.

In June, City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo renamed a street corner in Brooklyn after Christopher Wallace, the rapper better known as Notorious B.I.G., who died in 1997.

“Why this street co-naming is important is because while everybody is coming to Brooklyn, New York, they want to erase the history,” she said at the time. “They want to put up new cafes and boutiques and to push us out of our community.”

In 2018, protesters said gentrifiers in Crown Heights were partly to blame for the fatal police shooting of a man with mental illness.

“You are visitors in our communities,” Hortencia Peterson, a protester, told a crowd at one demonstration. “Stop calling 911. Blood is on your hands.”

Mr. Adams, a retired police captain and a former state senator, was elected borough president in 2013 and has talked openly about wanting to run for mayor in 2021. His comments on Monday might help him gain support from residents who are frustrated over the cost of living in New York City.

To fuel his campaigns, Mr. Adams has raised more than $3 million from over 10,000 donations since 2012, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s online records. (He collected at least $290,000 from about 650 donations that came from outside of New York State, including five donations from Ohio worth a combined $1,850.)

But many of his would-be predecessors at City Hall were, at one point, outsiders to the city they led, according to Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor and current presidential candidate.

Mr. Bloomberg and his successor, Mayor de Blasio, were raised in Massachusetts. Rudy Giuliani once lived on Long Island. David Dinkins was raised in Trenton, N.J.

Abe Beame, who was mayor in the mid-1970s, was born in London.

Mr. Adams has not always complained about New York’s transformation.

“Brooklyn is going to evolve and change,” Mr. Adams said in 2018 during a speech at the Brooklyn Historical Society, according to the Kings County Politics website.

“What we must do is make sure that we do not forcefully move out people, but allow the natural transitions of the community. They’re not going to stay the same, and ‘gentrification’ is a term that has been used to demonize the evolution of a particular borough.”


Meet the Artist” hosts a talk with the photographer Xiao Quan, and shows some of his work, at the China Institute in Manhattan. 6:30 p.m. [$15]

“Marceline. A Woman. A Century” screens at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan. 6 p.m. [$15]

Attend “The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism” book launch, with the author Kyle Chayka, at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [Free with R.S.V.P.]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.


“I have this great memory of this horrific commute one morning,” said Betsy Plum, 32, of Brooklyn.

About six months ago, she said, she was taking the F train to work in Midtown Manhattan from her home in Brooklyn. She recalled hopping on and off four trains and only making it to Delancey Street on the Lower East Side.

It was one of those days when “everyone’s elbowing each other, snapping at each other,” Ms. Plum said. Then a conductor “gave this hilarious explanation of what was going on,” which she wrote down:

“We’re on an F, there’s a rerouted C in front of us, and another F, and now an E being rerouted. Please plan extra travel time. Because of congestion, there are residual but significant delays. If you need to get to Fulton Street, take a J, as in Juliet train. It’s still running, to the best of my knowledge. It’s only several stops from Delancey.”

The mood in the crowded car changed, she said. They seemed to acknowledge, “We’re all in this together.”

Uniting commuters who are delayed and packed like sardines may be a useful skill in Ms. Plum’s new job. On Feb. 18, she’ll start as the executive director of the Riders Alliance, a public transit advocacy group.

“We’re not going to win a better system by going at each other,” she said of fellow riders.

She also said there was a need “to create more opportunities for women, especially women of color,” in decision-making roles. Including more women in discussions about transit can help address issues that women face, she added. Pregnant women, for instance, frequently complain they are not given seats on trains, and broken elevators and escalators force those with children and strollers to navigate stairs.

Polly Trottenberg is New York City’s transportation commissioner, but the subway and buses are essentially controlled by Governor Cuomo and the subway leader Andy Byford, labeled by some fans as “train daddy.”

Christina Goldbaum contributed reporting.

It’s Wednesday — get humanized.


Dear Diary:

She lies on her side, knees pulled up and back curved over, her bag on the subway floor just below her bare feet turning her into a quiet question mark.

Two seats away, he leans his oiled head back and stretches his suited self out straight. A filthy paper plate inches from his polished shoes is the dot that makes his body the indifferent exclamation point of an answer.

— Ani Buk


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