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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER HUGH CAREY
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Governor of New York state


It was 5 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day. Governor Hugh Carey sat alone in his office on West 55th Street, rubbing his forehead wearily with both hands when his assistant press secretary, Judy Deich, ushered me in. The introductions were brief, and the governor spoke very rapidly, keeping is eyes on the table in front of him, where he was scrawling pencil lines in geometric patterns on a piece of blank paper, as if to maintain his concentration.

The Governor had been up for 12 hours, and his voice occasionally faded to a whisper, but he answered all the questions with a flair and displayed a sincere manner throughout. Sitting kitty-corner to me at a conference table, he looked smaller and thinner than his photographs. He also looked like one of the tiredest, most overworked men I had ever met.

"I have been staying on the West Side a lot since last September," he said. "That's when my sons Donald and Michael got an apartment near Central Park. They're kind enough to put me up there. We have the usual tenants' complaints about the leaky ceilings and peeling paint. All in all, it's a good building. I find more and more advantages to living on the West Side. I like it because of the accessibility to work and because I jog in Central Park.

"One of my headaches is Central Park. Some of my colleagues would like to make it a national park. It's the city's biggest showplace. … I want to get the automobiles out of there more and more. In the morning, I see all the New Jersey cars coming through. That's why I want Westway below 42d Street — so it will take more pressure off the city. … I wish everyone would realize that Westway is not a road. It's a recessed highway — more of a tunnel."

Speaking frankly of the problem of ex-mental patients in parts of the West Side, Carey said that "we have indexed all the SRO's. That was never done before. … The homeless people who live on the street are not the wards of the state. We can't just go out and pick them up. … If they need some kind of health care, they should be taken to a shelter and given health care. If they resist, we will have peace officers to take care of them. That's something I'm doing with Mayor Koch."

Ever since he defeated Nelson Rockefeller's appointed successor, Malcolm Wilson, in 1974, Hugh Carey has become well known for both his conservative moral code and his unswerving fiscal restraint. Born on April 11, 1919, to an Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn, Carey grew up with five brothers believing in certain prin............
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