Leonora Russo, Activist

Photo: Jake Chessum

What kind of activist are you?
I’m an activist for the People’s Firehouse. It’s here in Williamsburg, and it’s being turned into condominiums. We’ve been fighting for it since Beame was mayor.

How long have you lived in Williamsburg?
Sixty years. I love this neighborhood. If I was to move from here, I would be lost. People sit down and talk with me, we have coffee. We have cake. A little luncheon sometimes. We debate each other’s problems. They call me the mayor ’cause I know everyone.

What do you think of all the new, young people?
Well, I think it’s very nice that they’re here. They’re creative. They’re cultured. I wish them all the luck because they are great painters and sometimes musicians, but not everybody can be discovered, you know? And now everything is condominiums that people cannot afford. When I came here, my rent was $25.

Do you always dress so brightly?
Yes. I do. I like fashion, but not too much flash. Just simplicity with colors, nice contrast with jewelry, big hats. Colors are becoming to anyone. Even a little puppy, when it has a coat on, is very nice.

Leonora Russo, Activist