Talking Bronx history with a governor


Lloyd Ultan, a history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus, received a mysterious telephone call on the evening of Friday, March 17. The resulting conversation led Ultan to a unique experience: appearing in a short video and meeting the governor of New York.

On the phone, the unidentified caller praised the Bronx historian’s books, and said “he had made a bet with two others listening in on the conversation that I could answer his questions,” according to Ultan. “I replied that he could try me, and he then inquired about the history of the Hunts Point Produce Market and the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx. After I answered his questions, he thanked me, saying I had just won him $2. I recognized his voice as that of Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York.”

Just after hanging up with Cuomo, Ultan received a call from Kelly Cummings, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, about a video the governor was making. Would Ultan come to the governor’s Manhattan office to be in a video about the market and expressway? He agreed.

After the taping, Cummings insisted that Ultan appear at the video premiere and the governor’s presentation on improving access to Hunts Point Market and the expressway. Again, he agreed.

Nearly 250 people attended the event and watched the video, “Transforming the South Bronx.” “After the presentation, the governor approached me with a broad smile, hand extended. As he shook my hand he said, ‘Now you are a star,’” says Ultan.