Gene Russianoff: Atticus Finch for NYC Transit Riders

When Gene Russianoff graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978, he chose a different path from most of his classmates. “Just about everybody — and I mean everybody — went into some form of corporate law,” Russianoff recalls. “Except, of course, those who planned to take a year ‘off’ to clerk for a judge. I had planned a graduate degree in public health the following fall. Then I saw a poster about jobs working with college students on social changes projects. And…” … and the rest is a bit of New York City history. Housed in the New York Public Library Archives and Manuscripts Division is a collection of 59 boxes of records from the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) Straphangers Campaign, including 35-1/2 boxes labelled “Series V. Gene Russianoff Files.” In the description of the collection, the library states, “The New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign was founded in 1979 to lobby for the repair and improvement of New York City’s subway and bus services. It has played a vital role in the rehabilitation of public transportation in New York City.”

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