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HISTORY 3480: HISTORY OF NYC BRENDAN O’MALLEY INSTRUCTOR BOMALLEY@BROOKLYN.CUNY.EDU. CHAPTER NINE The Long Slide. Mayor John V. Lindsay (in office 1966 to 1973). Mayor William O’Dwyer (in office 1946 to 1950). Carmine DeSapio (last boss of Tammany, 1949 to 1961).

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Mayor John V. Lindsay

(in office 1966 to 1973)

Mayor William O’Dwyer

(in office 1946 to 1950)

Carmine DeSapio

(last boss of Tammany,

1949 to 1961)

Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr.

(in office 1954 to 1965)

chapter nine the long slide
  • Immediate Postwar Era: Prosperous City Shows Little Indication of Future Problems on the Surface
  • People
    • 1950 Census 7,891,957 people: larger than 45 of the 48 states.
  • Manufacturing
    • Roughly 16 percent of the nation’s manufacturing establishments in
    • NYC: 37,870 of the nation’s 240,881 within the city’s borders
    • City’s largest industry was apparel, which provided more jobs than
    • Detroit’s auto manufacturers and Pittsburgh’s steelmakers.
    • By a few years after the war, roughly 400,000 commuters enter the city
    • every day.
  • The Port
    • Approximately 40 percent of the country’s freight traffic passes through the city.
  • But: Over the next few decades, deindustrialization and an unwillingness
  • by mediocre leadership to face the city’s growing fiscal difficulties will
  • lead to grave consequences in the 1960s and 1970s.
chapter nine the long slide1
  • Mayor William O’Dwyer (1946 – 1950)
  • Irish Immigrant: Born in County Mayo in 1890 and emigrated to the U.S.
  • in 1910.
  • Became a police officer and studied law at night at Fordham Law School.
  • Was elected a Kings County judge and then district attorney in 1939;
  • prosecuted gangsters known as “Murder, Inc.”
  • Loyal Tammany man lost mayoral race against LaGuardia in 1941, but
  • becomes an army officer in the war; achieves rank of brigadier general.
  • Wins the 1945 mayoral election easily as Tammany’s choice.
  • Established the Office of City Construction Coordinator and appoints
  • Robert Moses to it and was also instrumental in bringing the U.N.
  • headquarters to NYC.
  • Raised the subway fare from five to ten cents.
  • Wins re-election in 1949, but resigns due to a police scandal; later was
  • accused of associating with racketeer Frank Costello.
  • Appointed ambassador to Mexico by Eisenhower.
chapter nine the long slide2
  • Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri (1950-1953)
  • Born in Sicily in 1900; his father was a shoemaker. The family
  • migrated to the Lower East Side in 1901, and later moved to
  • Connecticut.
  • Served in the Navy as a radioman on a destroyer during WWI;
  • later studied law at Fordham during the day while working as a
  • hotel bellboy at night.
  • Served as an assistant district attorney for New York from 1929 to
  • 1938 and was a Tammany man.
  • Put on O’Dwyer ticket as City Council President in 1945 so as to
  • attract the Italian American vote; also because he had a reputation
  • for honesty and integrity, with no ties to organized crime.
  • Served as acting mayor when O’Dwyer resigned. Was not
  • nominated by Tammany for the special election, so he broke with
  • Tammany and ran under the “Experience Party” ticket and won.
  • Proposed what would eventually become the Transit Authority.
  • Raised the subway to fifteen cents, raised the sales tax, and
  • introduced parking meters.
  • Tammany rallied to defeat him in the 1953 with Robert Wagner Jr.
chapter nine the long slide3
  • Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. (1954-1965)
  • Son of powerful Democratic New York senator Robert Wagner,
  • who had served from 1927 to 1949, and was a German immigrant.
  • The elder Wagner was a key figure in creating New Deal
  • legislation, including the 1935 National Labor Relations Act or
  • Wagner Act, which was a great victory for the labor movement.
  • The younger Wagner was born in Manhattan in 1910; attended the
  • Taft School and Yale University.
  • Served as state assemblyman (1938-1942), in the army air corps
  • during the war, and as Manhattan Borough President (1950-1953).
  • Elected in 1953 with Tammany support, although his nomination
  • triggered a long feud between Tammany boss Carmine DeSapio
  • and Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Wagner runs for U.S. Senator in 1956, but is defeated by
  • Republican Jacob Javits.
  • The Dodgers and Giants left the city in 1957, so Wagner pushed
  • for the creation of a new National League team, which would
  • result in the creation of the Mets.
chapter nine the long slide4

Incident during the 1964 Harlem Riots

  • Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. (1954 – 1965)
  • Infrastructural Building under Wagner:
    • Throgs Neck Bridge (1961)
    • Second deck of the George Washington Bridge added (1962)
    • Verrazano Narrows Bridge (1964)
    • 1964-1965 World’s Fair in Flushing-Corona Park
  • Social Welfare Reforms and Problems under Wagner:
    • 1960: African Americans comprise 13 percent of the city’s population but 45
    • percent of welfare payments; Puerto Ricans comprise 8 percent but receive 30
    • percent of all welfare payments.
    • A unified City University of New York (CUNY) created in 1961 to provide a free
    • college tuition to any qualified New Yorker.
    • Started an aggressive campaign to rid the city of gay bars before the 1964 World’s
    • Fair, entrapping many men.
    • July 1964 Harlem Riots: Triggered by a white cop shot an African American
    • fifteen-year-old boy, James Powell, the riots lasted six nights in Harlem and Bed-
    • Stuy and left one dead and 140 injured.
    • “White Flight”: Roughly 800,000 whites left the city for the suburbs during the
    • Wagner era.
chapter nine the long slide5

Carmine DeSapio

  • Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. (1954 – 1965)
  • Fiscal Problems under Wagner:
    • 1960: Even with $150 million in federal grants, Wagner could
    • not balance the city budget, needing emergency funds from the state.
    • 1963: City raises sales tax, further burdening the already highest taxed citizens in
    • the nation.
    • Tax Base Decreases while Cost of City Services Rises: While middle-class
    • taxpayers leave the city in droves, the city budget hits $3.4 billion by 1965.
  • Politics under Wagner:
    • During the campaign for his third term, Wagner breaks with Tammany, and joins
    • with Eleanor Roosevelt to crush DeSapio and deny Tammany patronage,
    • effectively destroying both the boss and the power of Tammany by 1961. Some
    • observers wished Wagner had as much zeal in governing the city as in destroying
    • his enemies. Roosevelt targeted DeSapio because she viewed him as having
    • derailed her son’s political career, Franklin Roosevelt Jr., by having convinced
    • him not to run for governor of New York in 1954.
    • Wagner granted collective bargaining to city unions in 1958, which also increased
    • the political power of these unions over Tammany.
chapter nine the long slide6
  • Mayor John V. Lindsay (1966-1973)
  • Born in 1921 and grew up on the Upper West Side; father was a
  • successful lawyer and investment banker; attended Yale as an
  • undergraduate.
  • Served in the Navy as a gunnery officer during WWII and
  • earned the rank of lieutenant.
  • Earned a law degree at Yale after the war and began practicing
  • law at a prestigious firm.
  • Is elected to Congress as a Republican representing the “Silk
  • Stocking District” of the Upper East Side.
  • During his fourth term as a congressman, he decides to run for
  • mayor and is elected as a Republican.
  • Had to deal with a strike by the Transport Workers Union led
  • by Michael Quill on his first day in office, Jan. 1, 1966. The
  • strike lasted until Jan. 13 and led to a significant concession on
  • workers’ wages. People were left wondering how he was going
  • to pay for these concessions.

Mayor Lindsay and

Johnny Carson in 1969

“Red Mike” Quill

chapter nine the long slide7
  • Mayor John V. Lindsay (1966-1973)
  • Feb. 1969 snowstorm deeply damages Lindsay’s reputation as
  • parts of Queens were not cleared for weeks.
  • Despite losing the Republican nomination for re-election,
  • Lindsay stays on the ballot on the Liberal Party ticket and wins
  • re-election.
  • Cut ties with the Republican Party in 1971 and launched an
  • unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a Democrat in 1972.
  • Did promote himself as someone who kept NYC from having
  • the horrific race riots of Detroit (1967) and Newark (1967).
  • Often accused of being a Manhattan-centric mayor, and one
  • incapable of dealing with the financial mess.
  • After leaving office, he often appeared on ABC’s Good
  • Morning, America as a guest host and commentator.

Mayor Lindsay