Boy from the Bronx
Equal parts walking-encyclopedia and old-time jokester, historian Lloyd Ultan is on a mission to change your perceptions of his beloved borough.
Lloyd Ultan does not use email. He doesn’t own a cellphone. He doesn’t eat in restaurants, drive a car, or even have a driver’s license, for that matter. “I have the longest chauffeur-driven limousine on the highway: it’s called the bus!“ he says with a roaring laugh.
Truth be told, Ultan would have little use for a vehicle, as he rarely leaves the borough where he has lived for all of his seven-and-a-half decades. Ultan is an author, researcher, and the Borough Historian of the Bronx, an official position appointed by the Borough President, and one he has held since 1996.
“By state law, I am paid a six-figure salary,” Ultan says. “Unfortunately, by the same state law, all six figures are zero!” he adds, erupting into another fit of laughter. In each of the five boroughs, the post of official historian is an unpaid but highly respected position. Instead, Ultan pays his bills by teaching and writing books.
I first met Ultan on a Saturday afternoon in early October. H…
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