We don’t think it’s quite that simple—as Michele Carlo, a storyteller who you’ll meet below, says, "If you’re a real New Yorker, you’re here with your spirit and your heart."
Still, for Curbed NY's new series New York Narratives, we wanted to showcase the stories of people who were born and raised in New York City. There’s something about the experience of growing up in New York City—riding the subway to school as a child, or playing tag in the street instead of a backyard—that’s unlike so many other places. Here, you’ll meet nine New Yorkers of varying ages and backgrounds, who have very different perspectives on their hometown but are united in one common theme: they care deeply about this city and its future. They love where they live.
The story doesn’t end here, though—we want to hear from more New Yorkers. Send us a tip, or leave us a comment, if you’d like to share your New York narrative.
Allison Steinberg, a 33-year-old Queens resident, has lived in that borough for most of her life. But that may not always be the case: Here, she shares her experience of growing up (and coming out) in NYC, along with the reason she may eventually need to say goodbye to her hometown.
Ian Reid is a 38-year-old Brooklynite who grew up In Fort Greene and still lives nearby. Here, Reid recalls the heyday and fall of Albee Square, the Brooklyn skate scene in the '90s, and muses on the state of the city.
Isaac Moore is a 43-year-old resident of the Bronx's Morris Park neighborhood, who spent his formative years in Co-op City, to this day one of the largest housing projects in the world. Here, Moore remembers what it was like growing up in the Bronx in the late ’70s, and how a kid who wanted to escape the borough ended up right back where he started.
Jane Levin Cascio
Jane Levin Cascio is a 32-year-old resident of Cobble Hill who grew up in Greenwich Village. Here, Levin Cascio recounts why growing up in New York City in the '90s was important to her, and weighs whether she wants the same upbringing for her daughter.
Jose Vega grew up "lower middle class" in the Bronx during the crack epidemic. Now, at 45 years old and as a resident of East Harlem, he reflects on how his lifelong interest in art opened up Manhattan—and by extension, the world—to him.
Leonard Jacobs grew up in Queens, but as a young gay man, gravitated toward the ever-growing LGBT community in Manhattan. Here, he shares his remembrances of NYC's ’80s and ’90s nightlife scene, and why we shouldn't romanticize the "dangerous" old days in the city.
Leslie Kandell, 79-year-old Upper West Side resident, pushed boundaries at a time when women's roles in the workforce were limited. An elementary school student of Pete Seeger's and a lover of classical music, Leslie recounts her life as a music journalist, and the expectation-defying decisions that got her there.
Storyteller and author Michele Carlo was raised in the Bronx, but has lived in South Slope, Brooklyn, for nearly 30 years—and in that time, she's seen her hometown undergo a drastic transformation. Here, she recalls her youth and explains why "anyone can be a New Yorker."
After growing up in Co-op City and then living abroad for two decades, Robin Nurse returned to Harlem to find a changed New York City. Here, she reminisces about her childhood and shares why she thinks that "New York has lost its voice."
Interviews conducted by Zoe Rosenberg
Photography by Khushbu Shah
Edited by Amy Plitt and Zoe Rosenberg