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Eliot Spitzer, Former Governor, b. 1959

“You either rise to it or you don't.”


When I tell folks that I grew up in the Bronx, often they have an image of an era with Jimmy Carter saying this is a burned-out piece of urban life that we have to rebuild. The folks who know the city a bit better say, “Well, where in the Bronx?” and I say, “Riverdale,” and they kind of shrug and say, “Okay, we get it.”

But I’m a partisan in this regard—not a political partisan, but a partisan of the city: I don’t think there’s any place like it. It’s in your bloodstream, it’s in your DNA. You never let it go. What New York gives to every kid is the notion that whether you’re in the arts, whether you’re in science, whether you’re in finance—whatever area of the world you live in, this is where you’re going to find your toughest competition, but also know that this is where the greatest opportunities can be found. It challenges, it pushes, it can be a little intimidating. And that’s the whole point. You either rise to it or you don’t. What defines New Yorkers is they’ve risen to it. The kids who grow up here have overcome the noise, the bedlam, the excitement, and made it part of what they are. When I ask my kids where they want to grow up, they kind of look at me quizzically and say, “Of course New York.” Where else could you?


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