John Lindsay

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John Lindsay
John Lindsay NYWTS 1.jpg
Lindsay carrying his budget, c. April 1966
103rd Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1966 December 31, 1973
Preceded by Robert F. Wagner Jr.
Succeeded by Abraham Beame
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from New York's 17th district
In office
January 3, 1959 December 31, 1965
Preceded by Frederic R. Coudert Jr.
Succeeded by Theodore R. Kupferman
Personal details
John Vliet Lindsay

(1921-11-24)November 24, 1921
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedDecember 19, 2000(2000-12-19) (aged 79)
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, U.S.
Resting placeMemorial Cemetery of Saint John's Church
Political party Republican (1951–1971)
Democratic (1971–2000)
Other political
Liberal (1969–1973)
Mary Harrison(m. 1949)
Alma mater Yale University (BA, JD)
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Navy (official).svg  United States Navy
Years of service1943–1946
Rank US Navy O3 infobox.svg Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

John Vliet Lindsay ( /vlt/ ; November 24, 1921 – December 19, 2000) was an American politician, lawyer, and broadcaster. During his political career, Lindsay was a U.S. congressman, mayor of New York City, and candidate for U.S. president. He was also a regular guest host of Good Morning America . Lindsay served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from January 1959 to December 1965 and as mayor of New York City from January 1966 to December 1973. He switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party in 1971, and launched a brief and unsuccessful bid for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination as well as the 1980 Democratic nomination for Senator from New York. He died from Parkinson's disease and pneumonia in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on December 19, 2000.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

<i>Good Morning America</i> American morning television show broadcast on ABC

Good Morning America (GMA) is an American morning television show that is broadcast on ABC. It debuted on November 3, 1975, and first expanded to weekends with the debut of a Sunday edition on January 3, 1993. The Sunday edition was canceled in 1999; weekend editions returned on both Saturdays and Sundays on September 4, 2004. The weekday program airs from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. in all U.S. time zones. The Saturday and Sunday editions are one hour long and are transmitted to ABC's stations live at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, although stations in some markets air them at different times. Viewers in the Pacific Time Zone receive an updated feed with a specialized opening and updated live reports. A third hour of the weekday broadcast aired from 2007 to 2008, exclusively on ABC News Now.

United States House of Representatives Lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.


Early life

Lindsay was born in New York City on West End Avenue, to George Nelson Lindsay and the former Florence Eleanor Vliet. [1] He grew up in an upper-middle-class family of English and Dutch descent. [2] Lindsay's paternal grandfather migrated to the United States in the 1880s from the Isle of Wight, [1] and his mother was from an upper-middle-class family that had been in New York since the 1660s. [2] Lindsay's father was a successful lawyer and investment banker. [1] Lindsay attended the Buckley School, St. Paul's School and Yale, [1] where he was admitted to the class of 1944 and joined Scroll and Key. [3]

Dutch people or the Dutch are a Germanic ethnic group and nation native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Aruba, Suriname, Guyana, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. The Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries, and the various territories of which they consisted had become virtually autonomous by the 13th century. Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic. The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early date. During the Republic the first series of large-scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.

Isle of Wight County and island of England

The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between 2 and 5 miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines. The island is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Buckley School (New York City) day school for boys in Manhattan

Buckley School is an independent, K-9 day school for boys located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City.

With the outbreak of World War II, Lindsay completed his studies early and in 1943 joined the United States Navy as a gunnery officer. He obtained the rank of lieutenant, earning five battle stars through action in the invasion of Sicily and a series of landings in the Pacific theater. [4] [5] After the war, he spent a few months as a ski bum [2] and a couple of months training as a bank clerk [2] before returning to New Haven, where he received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1948, ahead of schedule. [2] In 1949, he began his legal career at the law firm of Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitchcock & Chrystie. [6]

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of US Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Lieutenant is a commissioned officer rank in many nations' navies. It is typically the most senior of junior officer ranks. In most navies, the rank's insignia may consist of two medium gold braid stripes, the uppermost stripe featuring an executive curl in many Commonwealth of Nations; or three stripes of equal or unequal width.

Asiatic-Pacific Theater area of operations of U.S. forces during the Pacific War of 1941-45

The Asiatic-Pacific Theater, was the theater of operations of U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific War during 1941–45. From mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945, there were two U.S. operational commands in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area, were commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. The South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Area. During 1945, the United States added the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, commanded by General Carl A. Spaatz.


Congressman Lindsay speaking at the New York City Board of Estimate meeting at City Hall in April 1963 Johnvlindsay.jpg
Congressman Lindsay speaking at the New York City Board of Estimate meeting at City Hall in April 1963

Back in New York City, Lindsay met his future wife, Mary Anne Harrison (1926-2004), at the wedding of Nancy Walker Bush (daughter of Connecticut's Senator Prescott Bush and sister of future President George Herbert Walker Bush), [2] where he was an usher and Harrison a bridesmaid. [2] She was a graduate of Vassar College [3] and a distant relative of William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. [2] They married in 1949. [3] That same year Lindsay was admitted to the bar, and rose to become a partner in his law firm four years later. [5]

Nancy Walker Bush Ellis is the only sister of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and aunt of former President George W. Bush and the former governor of Florida John Ellis "Jeb" Bush. Her parents were Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895–1972) and Dorothy Walker Bush (1901–1992). Media consultant John Prescott Ellis and Josiah "Joe" Ellis, President and CEO of the Denver Broncos, are two of her four children. She is widowed and lives in Boston.

Connecticut U.S. state in the United States

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

Prescott Bush former US Senator, father of George H. W. Bush

Prescott Sheldon Bush was an American banker and politician.After working as a Wall Street executive investment banker, he represented Connecticut in the United States Senate from 1952 to 1963.A member of the Bush family, he was the father of Vice President and President George H. W. Bush, and the paternal grandfather of Texas Governor and President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

U.S. Representative

Lindsay began gravitating toward politics as one of the founders of the Youth for Eisenhower club in 1951 and as president of The New York Young Republican Club in 1952. [7] He went on to join the United States Department of Justice in 1955 as executive assistant to Attorney General Herbert Brownell. There he worked on civil liberties cases as well as the 1957 Civil Rights Act. In 1958, with the backing of Brownell as well as Bruce Barton, John Aspinwall Roosevelt, and Edith Willkie, [2] Lindsay won the Republican primary and went on to be elected to Congress as the representative of the "Silk Stocking" 17th district, exemplified by Manhattan's Upper East Side but also encompassing the diverse Lower East Side and historically bohemian Greenwich Village. [7]

The New York Young Republican Club

The New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) is an organization for members of the Republican Party of the United States between the ages of 18 and 40 in New York City. The New York Young Republican Club is the oldest chapter in the United States, founded in 1911 with predecessor organizations going back to 1856. The Club is affiliated with and officially recognized by the New York State Young Republicans and the Young Republican National Federation, as well as the county, state, and national Republican committees.

United States Department of Justice U.S. federal executive department in charge of law enforcement

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the U.S. government, responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.

Herbert Brownell Jr. American politician

Herbert Brownell Jr. was an American lawyer and Republican politician. From 1953 to 1957, he served as United States Attorney General in the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

While in Congress, Lindsay established a liberal voting record increasingly at odds with his own party. [8] He was an early supporter of federal aid to education and Medicare; [2] and advocated the establishment of a federal United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and a National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities. [2] He was called a maverick, [1] casting the lone dissenting vote for a Republican-sponsored bill extending the power of the Postmaster General to impound obscene mail [2] and one of only two dissenting votes for a bill allowing federal interception of mail from Communist countries. [2] Also known for his wit, when asked by his party leaders why he opposed legislation to combat Communism and pornography, he replied that the two were the major industries of his district and if they were suppressed then "the 17th district would be a depressed area". [5]

Medicare (United States) United States single-payer national social insurance program

Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration (SSA) and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It primarily provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, but also for some younger people with disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal government

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal government. Although its beginnings were in the House and Home Financing Agency, it was founded as a Cabinet department in 1965, as part of the "Great Society" program of President Lyndon Johnson, to develop and execute policies on housing and metropolises.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency of the U.S. government, established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The NEH is housed at 400 7th St SW, Washington, D.C. From 1979 to 2014, NEH was at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. in the Nancy Hanks Center at the Old Post Office.


In 1965, Lindsay was elected Mayor of New York City as a Republican with the support of the Liberal Party of New York in a three-way race. He defeated Democratic mayoral candidate Abraham D. Beame, then City Comptroller, as well as National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr., who ran on the Conservative line. The unofficial motto of the campaign, taken from a Murray Kempton column, was "He is fresh and everyone else is tired". [2] [9]

Labor issues

Lindsay speaking at City Hall in January 1966 Lindsaybehinddesk.jpg
Lindsay speaking at City Hall in January 1966

On his first day as mayor, January 1, 1966, the Transport Workers Union of America, led by Mike Quill shut down the city with a complete halt of subway and bus service. As New Yorkers endured the transit strike, Lindsay remarked, "I still think it's a fun city," and walked four miles (6 km) from his hotel room to City Hall in a gesture to show it. [10] Dick Schaap, then a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune , popularized the term in an article titled Fun City. [10] [11] In the article, Schaap sardonically pointed out that it wasn't. [10] [11]

In 1966 the settlement terms of the transit strike, combined with increased welfare costs and general economic decline, forced Lindsay to lobby the New York State legislature for a new municipal income tax and higher water rates for city residents, plus a new commuter tax for people who worked in the city but resided elsewhere.

The transit strike was the first of many labor struggles. In 1968, in an attempt to decentralize the city's school system, Lindsay granted three local school boards in the city complete control over their schools, in an effort to allow communities to have more of a say in their schools. The city's teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, however, saw the breakup as a way of union busting, as a decentralized school system would force the union to negotiate with 33 separate school boards rather than with one centralized body. As a result, in May 1968 several teachers working in schools located in the neighborhood of Ocean Hill-Brownsville, one of the neighborhoods where the decentralization was being tested, were fired from their jobs by the community-run school board. The UFT demanded the reinstatement of the dismissed teachers, citing that the teachers had been fired without due process. When their demands were ignored, the UFT called the first of three strikes, leading ultimately to a protracted citywide teachers' strike that stretched over a seven-month period between May and November. [12] The strike was tinged with racial and anti-Semitic overtones, pitting black and Puerto Rican parents against Jewish teachers and supervisors. [13] Many thought the mayor had made a bad situation worse by taking sides against the teachers. [13] The episode left a legacy of tensions between blacks and Jews that went on for years, [1] and Lindsay called it his greatest regret. [1]

Scene from NYC sanitation strike, February 1968 Anderson Ave garbage strike 1968 (cropped).jpg
Scene from NYC sanitation strike, February 1968

That same year, 1968, also saw a three-day Broadway strike and a nine-day sanitation strike. [14] Quality of life in the city reached a nadir during the sanitation strike as mounds of garbage caught fire and strong winds blew the filth through the streets. [15] In June 1968, the New York City Police Department deployed snipers to protect Lindsay during a public ceremony, shortly after they detained a knife-wielding man who had demanded to meet the mayor. [16] With the schools shut down, police engaged in a slowdown, firefighters threatening job actions, the city awash in garbage, and racial and religious tensions breaking to the surface, Lindsay later called the last six months of 1968 "the worst of my public life." [1]

The summer of 1971 ushered in another devastating strike as over 8,000 workers belonging to AFSCME District Council 37 walked off their jobs for two days. The strikers included the operators of the city's drawbridges and sewage treatment plants. Drawbridges over the Harlem River were locked in the "up" position, barring automobile travel into Manhattan, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage flowed into local waterways.

Racial and civil unrest

Lindsay meets with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, August 1967 John Lindsay Lyndon Johnson.jpg
Lindsay meets with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, August 1967

Lindsay served on the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission. This body was established in 1967 by President Johnson after riots in urban centers of the US, including Newark and Detroit. Lindsay maximized publicity and coverage of his activities on the commission, and while other commissioners made inconspicuous visits to riot-damaged sites, Lindsay would alert the press before his fact-finding missions. Nonetheless, he was especially influential in producing the Kerner Report; its dramatic language of the nation "moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal" was his rhetoric. [17]

President Lyndon B. Johnson ignored the report and rejected the Kerner Commission's recommendations. [18] In April 1968, one month after the release of the Kerner report, rioting broke out in more than 100 cities following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. [19] However, in New York City, Lindsay traveled directly into Harlem, telling black residents that he regretted King's death and was working against poverty. He is credited with averting riots in the city with this direct response, even as other major cities burned. [20] [21] David Garth, who accompanied Lindsay that night, recalled: "There was a wall of people coming across 125th Street, going from west to east ... I thought we were dead. John raised his hands, said he was sorry. It was very quiet. My feeling was, his appearance there was very reassuring to people because it wasn't the first time they had seen him. He had gone there on a regular basis. That gave him credibility when it hit the fan." [22]

Blizzard of 1969

A street in New York City during the storm. This scene is in Manhattan, 1969. Miniskirts in snow storm.jpg
A street in New York City during the storm. This scene is in Manhattan, 1969.

On February 10, 1969, New York City was pummeled with 15 inches (38 cm) of snow. On the first day alone, 14 people died and 68 were injured. [23] Within a day, the mayor was criticized for giving favored treatment to Manhattan at the expense of the other boroughs. [24] Charges were made that a city worker elicited a bribe to clean streets in Queens. [25]

Over a week later, streets in eastern Queens still had remained unplowed by the city, enraging the borough's residents, many who felt that the city's other boroughs always took a back seat to Manhattan. [26] Lindsay traveled to Queens, but his visit was not well received. His car could not make its way through Rego Park, and even in a four-wheel-drive truck, he had trouble getting around. [27] In Kew Gardens Hills, the mayor was booed; one woman screamed, "You should be ashamed of yourself." [27] In Fresh Meadows, a woman told the mayor: "Get away, you bum." [27] Later during his walk through Fresh Meadows, another woman called him 'a wonderful man", prompting the mayor to respond: "And you're a wonderful woman, not like those fat Jewish broads up there," pointing to women in a nearby building who had criticized him. [27]

The blizzard, dubbed the "Lindsay Snowstorm", [28] prompted a political crisis that became "legendary in the annals of municipal politics" [27] as the scenes conveyed a message that the mayor of New York City was indifferent to the middle class and poor citizens of the city. [1]


In 1969, a backlash against Lindsay caused him to lose the Republican mayoral primary to state Senator John J. Marchi, who was enthusiastically supported by Buckley and the party's conservative wing. In the Democratic primary, the most conservative candidate, City Comptroller Mario Procaccino, defeated several more liberal contenders and won the nomination with only a plurality of the votes. "The more the Mario", he quipped. [29] Procaccino, who ran to Lindsay's right, went on to coin the term "limousine liberal" to describe Lindsay and his wealthy Manhattan backers.

Despite losing the Republican nomination, Lindsay remained on the ballot as the candidate of the New York Liberal Party. In his campaign he said "mistakes were made" and called being mayor of New York City "the second toughest job in America." [30] [31] Two television advertisements described his position: In one he looked directly into the camera and said, "I guessed wrong on the weather before the city's biggest snowfall last winter. And that was a mistake. But I put 6,000 more cops on the streets. And that was no mistake. The school strike went on too long and we all made some mistakes. But I brought 225,000 more jobs to this town. And that was no mistake... And we did not have a Detroit, a Watts or Newark. And those were no mistakes. The things that go wrong are what make this the second toughest job in America. But the things that go right are those things that make me want it." The second opened with a drive through the Holland Tunnel from lower Manhattan toward New Jersey and suggested that, "Every New Yorker should take this trip at least once before election day..." followed by video of Newark, New Jersey which had been devastated by race riots. [32]

While narrowly losing Brooklyn and the Bronx due to Procaccino's entrenched support among ethnic, working class whites (with Marchi winning his native Staten Island), Lindsay was able to vanquish his opponents with support from three distinct groups. [33] First were the city's minorities, mostly African Americans and Puerto Ricans, who were concentrated in Harlem, the South Bronx and various Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville. [33] [34] Second were the white and economically secure residents of certain areas of Manhattan. [33] [34] Third were the whites in the boroughs outside Manhattan who had a similar educational background and "cosmopolitan" attitude, namely residents of solidly middle-class neighborhoods, including Forest Hills and Kew Gardens in Queens and Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn. [33] This third category included many traditionally Democratic Jewish Americans who were repelled by Procaccino's conservatism. This created a plurality coalition (42%) in Lindsay's second three-way race. His margin of victory rose from just over 100,000 more votes than his Democratic opponent in 1965 to over 180,000 votes over Procaccino in 1969, despite appearing on just one third party ballot line (see New York City Mayoral Elections). [33] [34]

Hard-hat riots

Lindsay speaking at a senior citizens rally in October 1965 John Lindsay NYWTS 2.jpg
Lindsay speaking at a senior citizens rally in October 1965

On May 8, 1970, near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street and at New York City Hall, a riot started when about 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO labor federation attacked about 1,000 high school and college students and others protesting the Kent State shootings, the Cambodian Campaign, and the Vietnam War. Some attorneys, bankers, and investment analysts from nearby Wall Street investment firms tried to protect many of the students but were themselves attacked, and some onlookers reported that the police stood by and did nothing. Although more than seventy people were injured, including four policemen, only six people were arrested. [35] [36] [37] The following day, Lindsay severely criticized the police for their lack of action. [38] Police Department labor leaders later accused Lindsay of "undermining the confidence of the public in its Police Department" by his statements [39] and blamed the inaction on inadequate preparations and "inconsistent directives" in the past from the Mayor's office. [40] Several thousand construction workers, longshoremen and white-collar workers protested against the mayor on May 11 and again on May 16. Protesters called Lindsay "the red mayor", "traitor", "Commie rat", and "bum". The Mayor described the mood of the city as "taut". [41] [42]

Police corruption

In 1970, The New York Times printed New York City Police Department Patrolman Frank Serpico's claims of widespread police corruption. As a result, the Knapp Commission was eventually formed that April by Lindsay, with investigations beginning in June, although public hearings did not start until October 18, 1971. Its preliminary report was not issued until August 1972, and final recommendations only released on December 27, 1972.

Party switch and presidential campaign

In 1971, Lindsay and his wife cut ties with the Republican Party by registering with the Democratic Party. Lindsay said, "In a sense, this step recognizes the failure of 20 years in progressive Republican politics. In another sense, it represents the renewed decision to fight for new national leadership." [43] Lindsay then launched a brief and unsuccessful bid for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination. He attracted positive media attention and was a successful fundraiser. Lindsay did well in the early Arizona caucus, coming in second place [44] behind Edmund Muskie of Maine and ahead of eventual nominee George McGovern of South Dakota. Then in the March 14 Florida primary, he placed a weak fifth place, behind George Wallace of Alabama, Muskie, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, and Scoop Jackson of Washington (though he did edge out McGovern). [45] Among his difficulties was New York City's worsening problems, which Lindsay was accused of neglecting; a band of protesters from Forest Hills, Queens, who were opposed to his support for a low income housing project in their neighborhood, followed Lindsay around his aborted campaign itinerary to jeer and heckle him. [46] [47] His poor showing in Florida effectively doomed his candidacy. Shortly thereafter, influential Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Meade Esposito called for Lindsay to end his campaign: "I think the handwriting is on the wall; Little Sheba better come home." [48] After a poor showing in the April 5 Wisconsin primary, Lindsay formally abandoned the race.


Lindsay at the first public hearing on proposed executive capital budget in February 1966 John Lindsay NYWTS 3.jpg
Lindsay at the first public hearing on proposed executive capital budget in February 1966

In a 1972 Gallup poll, 60% of New Yorkers felt Lindsay's administration was working poorly, nine percent rated it good, and not one person thought its performance excellent. [49] By 1978, The New York Times called Lindsay "an exile in his own city". [50]

Lindsay's record remained controversial after he left politics. Conservative historian Fred Siegel, calling Lindsay the worst New York City mayor of the 20th century, said "Lindsay wasn't incompetent or foolish or corrupt, but he was actively destructive". [51] Journalist Steven Weisman observed "Lindsay's congressional career had taught him little of the need for subtle bureaucratic maneuvering, for understanding an opponent's self-interest, or for the great patience required in a sprawling government." [52]

Lindsay's budget aide Peter C. Goldmark, Jr. told historian Vincent Cannato that the administration "failed to come to grips with what a neighborhood is. We never realized that crime is something that happens to, and in, a community." Assistant Nancy Seifer said "There was a whole world out there that nobody in City Hall knew anything about ... If you didn't live on Central Park West, you were some kind of lesser being." [53] While many experts traced the city's mid-1970s fiscal crisis to the Lindsay years, Lindsay disagreed, insisting that it may have come sooner if he had not imposed new taxes. [1]

An alternate assessment was made by journalist Robert McFadden who said that "By 1973, his last year in office, Mr. Lindsay had become a more seasoned, pragmatic mayor." [1] McFadden also credited him for reducing racial tensions, leading to the prevention of riots that plagued Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark and other cities. [1]


Mario Cuomo, Carl McCall, and Carter F. Bales were among the many people who started their careers in public service in the Lindsay administration. [54] Rev. Al Sharpton has said that he still remembers Lindsay having walked the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Harlem when these neighborhoods were doing poorly economically. [54]

Lindsay also fought to transform the Civilian Complaint Review Board from an internal police-run department, into a public-minded agency with a citizen majority board. [55] Initially and vociferously opposed by the police union, citizen oversight of police—which sprung from the American Civil Rights Movement—has since become an established institution in civic life, and Lindsay was a leader for it.

Lindsay left a serious legacy in the development of the Arts in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. By instructing code enforcement officers to basically "go light" on squatters and especially artists "live/work" space, he helped send signals that aided in the revival of the arts community in those segments of the city.

Later life

After leaving office, Lindsay returned to the law, but remained in the public eye as a commentator and regular guest host for ABC's Good Morning America . In 1975, Lindsay made a surprise appearance on The Tony Awards telecast in which he, along with a troupe of celebrity male suitors in tuxedos, sang "Mame" to Angela Lansbury. He presented the award for Best Director Of A Play to John Dexter for the play Equus . Lindsay also tried his hand at acting, appearing in Otto Preminger's Rosebud ; [56] the following year his novel, The Edge, was published (Lindsay had earlier authored two non-fiction memoirs): New York Times , in its contemporary review of the novel, said it was "as dead-serious as a $100-a-plate dinner of gray meat and frozen candidates' smiles." [57] Attempting a political comeback in 1980, Lindsay made a long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator from New York, and finished third. He was also active in New York City charities, serving on the board of the Association for a Better New York, and as chairman of the Lincoln Center Theater. On his death, New York Times credited Lindsay with a significant role in the rejuvenation of the theatre. [58]

Medical bills from his Parkinson's disease, heart attacks, and stroke depleted Lindsay's finances, as did the collapse of two law firms where he worked, and he found himself without health insurance. Lindsay's eight years of service as Mayor left him seven years short of qualifying for a city pension. In 1996, with support from City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani appointed Lindsay to two largely ceremonial posts to make him eligible for municipal health insurance coverage. [59] He and his wife Mary moved to a retirement community in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in November 1999, where he died on December 19, 2000 at the age of seventy-nine of complications from pneumonia and Parkinson's disease. [36]

In 2000, Yale Law School created a fellowship program named in Lindsay's honor. In 1998, a park in Brooklyn, Lindsay Triangle, was named in his honor, [60] and in 2001, the East River Park was renamed in his memory. [61] In December 2013, South Loop Drive in Manhattan's Central Park was renamed after Lindsay, to commemorate his support for a car-free Central Park. [62]

He was featured on a poster picture with Governor Rockefeller at the groundbreaking of the former World Trade Center in the city history section of the Museum of the City of New York at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street.

See also

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Edward Irving Koch was an American lawyer, politician, political commentator, movie critic, and television personality. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and was mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.

Robert F. Wagner Jr. American diplomat and politician

Robert Ferdinand Wagner II, usually known as Robert F. Wagner Jr. served three terms as the mayor of New York City, from 1954 through 1965. When running for his third term, he broke with the Tammany Hall leadership, ending the reign of clubhouse bosses in city politics.

New York City mayoral elections

The Mayor of the City of New York is elected in early November every four years and takes office at the beginning of the following year. The city, which elects the mayor as its chief executive, consists of the five boroughs, which consolidated to form "Greater" New York on January 1, 1898.

Immediately after World War II, New York City became known as one of the world's greatest cities. However, after peaking in population in 1950, the city began to feel the effects of white flight to the suburbs, a downturn in industry and commerce as businesses left for places where it was cheaper and easier to operate, an increase in crime, and an upturn in its welfare burden, all of which reached a nadir in the city's fiscal crisis of the 1970s, when it barely avoided defaulting on its obligations and declaring bankruptcy.

In 1966, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) called a strike in New York City after the expiration of their contract with the New York City Transit Authority (TA). It was the first strike against the TA; pre-TWU transit strikes in 1905, 1910, 1916 and 1919 against the then-private transit companies had all failed. There had also been some partial TWU strikes in the 1930s, but no citywide actions. The strike led to the passage of the Taylor Law, which redefined the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York.

John Joseph Marchi was an attorney and jurist who represented Staten Island in the New York State Senate for 50 years. Marchi, a Republican, retired on December 31, 2006 from the seat that he had held since January 1, 1957. He was the Republican nominee for Mayor of New York City in 1969 and 1973.

Whitman Knapp American judge

Percy Whitman Knapp was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Previous to that service, he led a far-reaching investigation into corruption in the New York City Police Department from 1970 to 1972.

Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York is the largest labor union representing police officers of the New York City Police Department. It represents about 24,000 of the department's 36,000 officers. The union was unable to reach a labor contract with the city between 2012 and 2017.

Mario Angelo Procaccino was a lawyer, comptroller, and candidate for Mayor of New York City.

Benjamin Ward was the first African American New York City Police Commissioner.

New York City teachers strike of 1968

The New York City teachers' strike of 1968 was a months-long confrontation between the new community-controlled school board in the largely black Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. It began with a one day walkout in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district. It escalated to a citywide strike in September of that year, shutting down the public schools for a total of 36 days and increasing racial tensions between Blacks and Jews.

1977 New York City mayoral election

The New York City mayoral election of 1977 occurred on Tuesday, November 8, 1977.

New York City: the 51st State was the platform of the Norman Mailer–Jimmy Breslin candidacy in the 1969 New York City Democratic Mayoral Primary election. Mailer, a novelist, journalist, and filmmaker, and Breslin, an author and at the time a New York City newspaper columnist, proposed that the five New York City boroughs should secede from New York State, and become the 51st state of the U.S.

1972 Harlem mosque incident

The 1972 Harlem mosque shooting occurred on April 14, 1972, when a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer was shot and fatally wounded at the Nation of Islam Mosque No. 7 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City. The officer responded to a fake 9-1-1 call, but was shot and died from his wounds six days later. The incident sparked political and public outcry about mishandling of the incident by the NYPD and the administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay.

SPONGE, an acronym for Society for the Prevention of Nigg**s Getting Everything, was a prominent political pressure group founded in New York City prior to April 11, 1964. While the group at its peak never numbered more than about one hundred members, SPONGE received a massive amount of media coverage, due to the group's attention-getting name, wild antics, and the leadership style of its founder and first President, the twenty-four-year-old James "Sandy" McMenemon.

1969 New York City mayoral election

The 1969 New York City mayoral election occurred on Tuesday, November 4, 1969, with incumbent Liberal Party Mayor John Lindsay elected to a second term.

1965 New York City mayoral election

The 1965 New York City mayoral election occurred on Tuesday, November 2, 1965, with Republican Congressman John Lindsay winning a close plurality victory over the Democratic candidate, New York City Comptroller Abraham Beame.

Robert Thomas Johnson is a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in the county of the Bronx. He was previously a New York City Criminal Court judge, an acting justice of the New York State Supreme Court, and a long-time Bronx County District Attorney in New York City.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Robert D. McFadden (December 21, 2000). "John V. Lindsay, Mayor and Maverick, Dies at 79". New York Times . p. A1. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Cannato, Vincent (June 20, 2001). The Ungovernable City. Basic Books. p. 720. ISBN   978-0465008438.
  3. 1 2 3 "Mary A. Harrison, Lawyers Fiance. Vassar Graduate Will Be Bride of John V. Lindsay, Former Lieutenant in the Navy". New York Times . October 11, 1948. p. 29. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  4. "Lindsay Lacked Party's Backing; Surprise G. O. P. Victory in 17th Congressional District Based on Liberal Plea". New York Times . August 13, 1958. p. 18. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 "And Still a Winner. John Vliet Lindsay". New York Times . November 5, 1969. p. 32. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  6. Summer in the City – John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream. Edited by Joseph P. Viteritti (2014)
  7. 1 2 "Lindsay Victory Puts Him In Fore; He Is Seen as G.O.P. Hope in Election to Congress From 17th District". New York Times . November 5, 1958. p. 31. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  8. Weaver, Warren (May 30, 1965). "Lindsay's Voting Veers From G.O.P.; House Record Also Shows a Shift From Conservatives". New York Times . p. 30. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  9. Purnick, Joyce (December 21, 2000). "Metro Matters; Remembering A Mayor, Faults and All". New York Times . Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  10. 1 2 3 The Fun City, New York Herald Tribune, January 7, 1966, pg. 13:
  11. 1 2 Schneider, Daniel B. F.Y.I., New York Times , January 3, 1999.
  12. Stetson, Damon. A Most Unusual Strike; Bread-and-Butter Issues Transcended By Educational and Racial Concerns, New York Times , September 14, 1968.
  13. 1 2 Carroll, Maurice. Lindsay in Retrospect, New York Times , December 31, 1973, p. 7.
  14. Stetson, Damon (February 11, 1968). "Garbage Strike Is Ended On Rockefeller's Terms; Men Back On Job". New York Times . p. 1. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  15. Perlmutter, Emanuel (February 5, 1968). "Shots Are Fired In Refuse Strike; Filth Litters City - Shotgun Blasts Shatter 2 Panes at Home of Foreman Who Continues to Work - Mayor Tours Streets - Mounting Garbage Is 'Very Serious,' Lindsay Says - Pact Talks Due Today Garbage Piles Up in Streets as Strike Grows 'Very Serious'". New York Times . p. 1. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  16. "Antisniper Police Protect City Hall; Lindsay Guard Tightened—Man With Knife Seized", New York Times . June 12, 1968, p. 1. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  17. Hrach, Thomas J. (2008). The News Media and Disorders: The Kerner Commission's Examination of Race. ProQuest. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  18. Risen, Clay (2009). "King, Johnson, and The Terrible, Glorious Thirty-First Day of March". A nation on fire : America in the wake of the King assassination. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-470-17710-5.
  19. "'Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White—Separate and Unequal": Excerpts from the Kerner Report." History Matters.
  20. Risen, Clay (2009). "April 4: U and Fourteenth". A nation on fire: America in the wake of the King assassination. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   978-0-470-17710-5.
  21. Online excerpt from Clay Risen 2009
  22. Purnick, Joyce (December 21, 2000). "Remembering A Mayor, Faults and All". New York Times . Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  23. Fox, Sylvan (February 11, 1969). "A Paralyzed City Digs Out of Snow; 14 Dead, 68 Hurt". New York Times , p. 1.
  24. Phalon, Richard (February 12, 1969). "Political Foes and Voters Score Lindsay on Cleanup", New York Times . p. 1.
  25. Brady, Thomas F. (February 16, 1969) "Bribery Charged in Snow Removal; City Driver Held", New York Times .
  26. Stern, Michael (February 20, 1969). "Now Is the Winter of Discontent in Queens; Snow Mess Makes Baysiders Feel City Couldn't Care Less About Them", New York Times .
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 Chan, Sewell (February 10, 2009). "Remembering a Snowstorm That Paralyzed the City". New York Times . Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  28. Moritz, Owen (October 22, 1998). "Winter of Discontent Lindsay's Snowstorm, 1969". New York Daily News . Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  29. Pileggi, Nicholas (April 14, 1969). "The More the Mario". New York Magazine .
  30. Dougherty, Philip (November 11, 1969). "Campaign". New York Times . p. 73. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  31. Lindsay was not the first to refer to the office in this way; see the list of references in Popik, Barry. "'Second toughest job in America' (NYC mayor)" The Big Apple (December 31, 2007)
  32. "1969 Campaign Commercials from WNET-TV13". PBS station THIRTEEN. 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  33. 1 2 3 4 5 Lizzi, Maria C. (September 18, 2008). "'My Heart Is as Black as Yours': White Backlash, Racial Identity, and Italian American Stereotypes in New York City's 1969 Mayoral Campaign". Journal of American Ethnic History. 27 (3). Archived from the original on December 2, 2008.
  34. 1 2 3 Kihss, Peter Poor and Rich, Not Middle-Class, The Key to Lindsay Re-Election November 6, 1969.
  35. Foner, U.S. Labor and the Vietnam War, 1989.
  36. 1 2 Robert D. McFadden (October 4, 1996). "Peter Brennan, 78, Union Head and Nixon's Labor Chief". New York Times . Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  37. Fink, Biographical Dictionary of American Labor, 1984.
  38. Carroll, Maurice. Police Assailed by Mayor On Laxity at Peace Rally New York Times , May 10, 1970, p. 1.
  39. David Burnham, 5 Police Groups Rebut Critical Mayor, New York Times , May 12, 1970, p. 18.
  40. Kaufman, Michael T. P.B.A. Blames City In Reply To Mayor On Laxity Charge; City Hall Directive Called 'Inconsistent' as Guide in Attack by Workers May 11, 1970, p. 1.
  41. Homer Bigart (May 12, 1970). "Thousands Assail Lindsay In 2d Protest by Workers; Thousands Assail Lindsay at City Hall". New York Times . Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  42. Homer Bigart (May 16, 1970). "Thousands in City March To Assail Lindsay on War". New York Times . Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  43. "1971 Year in Review". December 28, 1971. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2013.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  44. Apple, R.W. Muskie Wins Arizona Vote As Lindsay Places Second, New York Times , January 31, 1972, p. 1.
  45. Waldron, Martin (March 15, 1972). "Nixon Margin Big; Governor Captures 75 of 81 Delegates in Dramatic Victory Wallace Gets 42%,". New York Times . p. 1. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
  46. 'Lindsay 72' Base Closed To Press; Mayor's Supporters Work Behind Locked Doors, New York Times , December 28, 1971.
  47. Lynn, Frank. Lindsay Attacks Nixon Over Crime - Asserts He Is 'Soft' on Law Enforcement – Mayor Is Heckled in Miami Beach, New York Times , February 16, 1972.
  48. Lynn, Frank. Esposito Advises Mayor to Quit Race, New York Times , March 28, 1972, p. 1.
  49. Jeff Greenfield (July 29, 1973). "3 Hail and farewell; Reading John Lindsay's face Lindsay" (PDF). New York Times . Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  50. Stein, Howard (January 8, 1978). "An Exile In His Own City; Lindsay". New York Times . pp. New York Times Magazine, p. SM3. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  51. John Tierney (January 15, 2000). "The Big City; The Greatest? Give Mayor A Mirror". New York Times . Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  52. Weisman, Steven R. (April 1972). "Why Lindsay Failed as Mayor". The Washington Monthly. p. 50. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  53. Cannato, p. 391.
  54. 1 2 "How Would Dinkins Have Done, Had He Come After Giuliani?". New York Magazine . January 9, 2011.
  55. Barkan, Ross (January 12, 2015). "Too Tall to be Mayor? The Shadow of John Lindsay Bill de Blasio Can't Acknowledge". New York Observer . Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  57. Andy Newman; Sam Roberts (October 17, 2013). "New York Today: The Ex-Mayors". New York Times . Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  58. McFadden, Robert D. (December 21, 2000). "John V. Lindsay, Mayor and Maverick, Dies at 79". New York Times . Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  59. Van Gelder, Lawrence. Ailing Lindsay Is Given Posts To Get City Health Insurance, New York Times , May 3, 1996.
  60. Lindsay Triangle, Williamsburg, Forgotten-NY, January 2, 2014.
  61. "Mayor Giuliani Signs Bill Renaming Manhattan's East River Park John V. Lindsay/East River Park". Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  62. Roberts, Sam. For Lindsay, a Rare Monument to a New York Mayor, New York Times , December 16, 2013, p. A25.

Further reading

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frederic R. Coudert Jr.
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Theodore R. Kupferman
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Wagner Jr.
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Abraham D. Beame