Andrew Gould, the “Mayor of the Upper West Side,” Dies at 60

Andrew Gould in his NY Hair Co. salon. | COURTESY: CHRISTINA WONG
Andrew Gould in his NY Hair Co. salon. | COURTESY: CHRISTINA WONG

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Andrew Gould, who since 1992 owned and operated NY Hair Co., a “green and cruelty-free salon” on Amsterdam Avenue between 85th and 86th Streets, has died at the age of 60. His death on June 20 was due to pancreatic cancer, according to his widow, Christina Wong.

The philosophy behind the salon’s choice of hair care products, its website explains, was based on Gould’s “personal commitment to the humane treatment of animals and his belief in caring for the environment.” Gould’s love of animals could often be very personal, indeed. In a message to friends announcing his death, Wong wrote, “He loved people and treated everyone with equal respect, with the exception of those unwitting souls who dared to tie their dog to a lamp post in the hot sun.”

On one occasion, a friend recalled, Gould burst into a Starbucks demanding to know whose dog had been left outside in the heat. When a very tall bodybuilder type stood up to claim responsibility, Gould employed his gift of gab to defuse what could have been a very unhappy animal rights intervention. He later often ran into the dog owner on the street and always got a friendly wave. Still, his wife told the friend, the muscleman probably never again left his dog tied up on the street.

Wong recalled walking home one evening to their apartment on 92nd Street just off Broadway when her husband dashed into a Duane Reade to break up a brawl that a crowd of bystanders was simply watching. When she later told Gould she was upset by the harm he put himself at risk for, he explained “that this was his neighborhood and that people needed to get involved when someone was in trouble.”

That kind of attitude earned Gould the moniker of “Mayor of the Upper West Side” among many in his neighborhood. In a city where businesses routinely post signs warning that their bathrooms are for customers’ use only, he would never refuse a homeless person’s request to use the facilities at NY Hair.

“When I asked him why, he would tell me that everyone deserves to have a little dignity,” Wong recalled.

Gould, who was born in Freeport and was raised in Merrick on Long Island, met Wong on Fire Island in 1989.

“We were complete opposites in just about everything but I knew that I liked him from the first moment we met,” his wife recalled. “He was handsome with a head of long hair like a lion’s mane, beautiful blue eyes, and a generous warm spirit. He was pretty unstructured and a bit wild but he said when we met he knew his life was going to change.”

Gould soon moved to the Upper West Side, and the couple married there in 2001 in a garden of a brownstone on West 89th Street.

Flowers in memory of Andrew Gould sit side by side with water bowls for passing dogs outside his NY Hair Co. salon. | COURTESY: CHRISTINA WONG
Flowers in memory of Andrew Gould sit side by side with water bowls for passing dogs outside his NY Hair Co. salon. | COURTESY: CHRISTINA WONG

With a strong interest in politics, “a sharp wit and an opinion about everything,” Wong said, Gould was always at the ready to engage people in deep conversation. With his brother Lewis, who works in the film industry and survives him, he frequented screenings around town, and his TV interests ranged from Bill Maher to Judge Judy, and also took in “Better Call Saul.”

Gould also kept close tabs on his 96-year-old father, Howard. Every Saturday morning, while walking to the gym, he would get Howard on the phone so they could “walk” together. Stopping to get coffee from a local street vendor, Andrew would put the vendor on the phone, warning Howard, “Dad, say hello to the guy who makes the worst coffee in New York.” Then, as Andrew headed up the hill on Amsterdam Avenue, Howard would worry about whether he had the stamina that day to make the climb.

Gould, his wife said, battled “his cancer with grace and courage right up to the end, still caring about people, animals, and his community. He told me that he loved his life and that if he was given the gift of surviving his cancer, he would gladly spend it right here on the Upper West Side.”

In addition to Christina, Howard, and Lewis, Andrew is survived by another brother, Richard, nephews Jesse, Billy, and Nick, and eight cousins among a large extended family.

Donations in Andrew Gould’s name can be made to Farm Sanctuary, which operates facilities to protect farm animals and encourage vegan living in Watkins Glen, New York as well as Los Angeles and Oakland, California, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.