Leonora Russo, the “Queen of Williamsburg,” has died at the age of 91, after 68 years in the neighborhood. She’ll be remembered this evening at Arthur’s Funeral Home in Greenpoint, DNAinfo reports.
RIP Leonora Russo AKA “The Queen of Williamsburg.” Honoring you in the only way we know how. Bedford Ave will never be the same. pic.twitter.com/lTieT6TLS6
— Vinnie’s Pizzeria (@vinniesbrooklyn) November 19, 2016
In a neighborhood that has become synonymous with change, Russo was a longtime fixture, holding court on Bedford Avenue and making small-talk with friends and strangers alike. Her flamboyant fashion sense attracted attention from New York magazine and The L. “I love this neighborhood,” she said in her Look Book spread. “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.”
— Jenn Hoffman (@JennHoffman) November 19, 2016
That was evident when we spent a day with Russo almost exactly three years ago. (Watch the video above.) She told us, “My son died here, my husband died here, I’ll die here.”
Composer William Basinski wrote about her on Facebook: “She was a natural entertainer, an incredible singer with perfect pitch and could easily be encouraged to give advice or break out into one of her hilarious vaudeville era songs. She always wanted to go to Hollywood, but Hollywood came to her in her later years.”
Needless to say, remembrances poured in via social media.
— Lauren Tara LaCapra (@LaurenLaCapra) November 17, 2016
❤️ R I P Leonora ❤️ you were our New York Granny and will always be a big part of my 2 years worth of memories from that end a daecial time. #leonora #queenofwilliamsburg @vannakitty @alexandragranville @robynherridge @tonguenchicx @tuxeda @salubriousstuff @marianavidalescabi @dcrista123 @gerardhaitz
A photo posted by sophieflinder (@sophieflinder) on
blessed be. a week for my weak heart of great women transcending. rip #sharonjones and #lenorarusso #queenofwilliamsburg what do i love about both of you? you fucking L I V E D! powerfully, vibrantly, constantly. let it be known, aging is a gift and whether or not you want to botox the heck out of those earned marks is up to you. YOU get to choose. how lucky are we to one day ascend into crone like these beautiful beings. age did not stop these beating hearts.
A photo posted by LAURA ORNELLA (@littlebitsofpieces) on
The summer I lived in Brooklyn, I had the pleasure of working in a cafe which had Leonora Russo’s favourite bench out front. The Queen of Williamsburg has died age 91. RIP Leonora, the sound of you shouting ‘hey! Irish eyes! Howz about you bring me an ice water??’ will ring forever in my heart <3 #leonorarusso #queenofwilliamsburg #brooklyn #newyork
A photo posted by Aoife Challis (@aoifechallis) on
RIP Queen of Williamsburg. I would always see her on Bedford Ave smiling & looking fabulous. I last saw Leonora Russo walking by Enids in Greenpoint about a month ago. She asked me which direction Williamsburg was, smiled & walked away. #leonorarusso #queenofwilliamsburg #advancedstyle #styleicon #sweetlady #oldnewyork
Up rose Lenore as the red morn wore From weary visions starting; Our wise and beautiful Lady of the street We shall so miss your departing 2 loving men of might, In fair Brooklyn waged uncertain fights And have long been waiting from afar. The Empress of the promenade Mile , bedford always had a smile now at long last you will be sleeping But there are so many who will be keeping …your martial throng, with laugh and song, Spoke of dresses , roses , and all the lovers that rode along, clanks and whispers came all their ranks and hipsters Now the trumpets sound while our wheels will tear and move around here and there all along your ways, old men , young boys, the ladies and their toys.. the gallant bands now gaze; A sad child turns the page We are trembling but we’ll press on some more how we’ll always miss your smile … sweet dreams Lenore. – #LeonoraRusso #queenofwilliamsburg #restinpeace #brooklynborn #lenore Original poem “the ballad of Lenore” was written in german by Gottfried August bürger in 1773
A photo posted by ✨ (@cinecycle) on
About two weeks ago I saw the ambulances take her away, I’m sad to learn that Lenora Russo “Queen of Williamsburg” did not make it. She lived in this neighborhood for the majority of her life, everyone knew her, she was a fixture, a local celebrity, and an interesting character. They don’t make them like that anymore. RIP Leonora. #williamsburg #brooklyn #newyork #thequeenofwilliamsburg #rip #leonorarusso #queenofwilliamsburg
May I take your picture? “Do you know who I am? I’m the Queen of Williamsburg. Google me, I’m all over the internet.” #queen #queenofwilliamsburg #chic #flair #snappydresser #williamsburg #beret #leopardprint #leopardcoat #leopardscarf #beautyqueen #nofear #redblouse #peoplechange #peopleofnyc #peoplephotography #waitingroom #fashionista #fashionistagram #instagood #instagram #instadaily #instapic #instahappy #royalty #knowthyself #know #seniors #senior #seniorswag
A photo posted by @ms.jal on
When in New York I decided to take a few hours away from fashion week to go explore Brooklyn, the area I stayed and fell in love with on my first trip to the city. I swear I crossed paths with this lady back at the time and regret not asking to take her photo. Any way, so I was strolling along and BAM there comes Leonora. We had a chat and I took her photo and she told me that she is the “Queen of Williamsburg”. If you Google her as she tells me, she does actually come up as that. A sweet and incredible 91 year old lady that I loved spending time with on the street bench and hope to see again soon #NewYork #QueenofWilliamsburg #Brooklyn #photography #loveher #makingfriends