Monday, May 10, 2010

Fun City Revisited: Mayor John Lindsay

Forty-five years ago New Yorkers elected a handsome Upper East Side patrician named John Lindsay as Mayor. Using the campaign slogan "He is fresh and everyone else is tired", Lindsay became the first Republican Mayor of NYC since LaGuardia and he promised to be a bright, optimistic new light in our city's brutal political culture.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Lindsay's two terms (1966-1973) were a rough, controversial time in this city's history. It was marked by transit and garbage strikes, rising crime rates, racial disputes, and white flight. Lindsay is accused, either fairly or unfairly, of triggering the financial crises of the 1970s and plunging this city into dark days that it only began to emerge from in the 1990s.

Of course the backdrop of Lindsay's terms were the Vietnam War, de-segregation, and Watergate. It would have been a rough time for anyone to be mayor, often called the country's second hardest job, and Lindsay has been given credit for preventing the city from exploding into riots (unlike LA) and for bringing a great heart to the urban jungle.

It was he who said, in NYC's darkest hours, that this was still a "fun city."

The Lindsay legacy is currently being revisited at an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Also, there's a new documentary about the Lindsay years currently airing on public television. You can also listen to a debate about Lindsay that was broadcast last week on WNYC.

Go back in time and decide for yourself if this time in history, NYC really was "fun city."

1 comment:

  1. I felt that by the time Lindsay campaigned for his second term, he was "tired" also--those four years really aged him. He was barely sworn in in Jan. 1966 when the Transit Strike began==a bitter one that lasted, I think, over two weeks. And it went on from there.

    Wilmet, NYC


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