Who Was Hugh Carey, Anyway?


Some of the most jaw-dropping images from the past few days have been of the Hugh Carey Tunnel–formerly known as the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel–filled with water from end-to-end.

As someone who has the privilege of living and working in Brooklyn, I don’t go into Manhattan all that often, and my travels almost never take me through the Hugh Carey Tunnel, so I wasn’t actually aware that it had been re-named that last year, in honor of the late Mr. Carey, who died in August of 2011 at the age of 92. After my shock at the flooding conditions receded a bit, I dug around a bit to find out a little more about this gentleman.

-He’s perhaps best known for being a liberal Democrat and the governor of New York State from 1975 to 1982. He helped New York City struggle up and out of financial crisis–he’s one of the guys who picked up the pieces after President Ford told the city to drop dead. (Ford never actually said that–it was a paraphrase of a speech, transformed into a Daily News headline, THE Daily News headline, arguably.)

-He was born in Park Slope in 1919.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo checking out the damage to the Hugh Carey Tunnel. There are parts of this that feel like you’re watching The Descent.

-He served seven terms in Congress, representing a district in Brooklyn covering Park Slope to Bay Ridge. He opposed the Vietnam War and the death penalty and sat on the House Education and Labor Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee.

-He and his wife Helen Carey had 14 children. She died of cancer in 1974, and he later married Evangeline Gouletas, who Carey met at Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.

-It’s been suggested that he was a better governor in crisis than in stable times, that in fact placid politics bored him. He went back to practicing law in New York City after leaving Albany in 1982.

Here’s his obituary in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and his page in the New York State Hall of Governors, should you desire more information.


One Response

  1. Nell -

    He as saved NY FROM A FISCAL CRISIS IN THE 70’s by kowtowing to the unions and giving away pension and health benefits that have helped create the financial crisis we’re in today. And they conveniently failed to mention the Democratic Party scandals that erupted during his tenure. Some of us DO remember who he was.


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