A Fresh Look At John Lindsay, And Questions About Why Now

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He's fresh," went John Lindsay’s mayoral campaign slogan from 1965,"everyone else is tired."

Now, 45 years after the dashing silk-stocking Republican first hit the hustings, a cadre of former Lindsay aides and family members are launching a media blitz in an attempt to keep the former mayor’s image fresh in the minds of New Yorkers.

On May 4, the Museum of the City of New York will open an exhibit entitled “America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York.” The exhibit will be accompanied by a book edited by New York Times reporter Sam Roberts and co-published by the museum and Columbia University Press. And airing May 6 on Channel 13 will be Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a one-hour documentary showcasing the mayor’s term in office, which lasted from 1966 to 1973.

All of which begs the question: Why Lindsay? And why now?

A tight-knit circle of former aides and associates that are unsatisfied with the current historical record of their boss’s administration provided some of the funding for the efforts said Roberts, a veteran reporter who got his start during the end of the Lindsay era. Roberts made clear, however, that his book and the exhibit were put together independently, growing out of a confluence of interest in rethinking the two-term mayor.

“There’s a feeling, for better or for worse, that Lindsay really hadn’t been considered in the context of his time,” Roberts added. “You could argue that New Yorkers had better and worse mayors than Lindsay, but very few of them had to govern in more trying times.”...

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Donald Wolberg - 4/27/2010

A lifetime ago, and two thousand miles away, my memory of John Lindsay was his first day on the job and the New York transit strike. Hurridly friends organized car pools to get from the Bronx to the lower Manhattan campus of NYU or jobs at Kleins Department Store on 14th Street. I recall a friend, long lost in Viet Nam, and his 1956 Buick. We started at 5 AM, packed seven into the bench seats, and I found a girlfriend. Somehow we smoked and joked for the first couple of days but by day four, the fun was gone. We wondered why the Mayor did nothing more than why the transit workers went on strike. Then came the snowstorm to end all snowstorms and the Mayor had more trouble.

I left New York--not my choice--and from a long way away, sometimes wondered what was this guy doing, so cool and with class, so different from the pudgy and dour And unexciting Robert Wagner. Being Mayor was to be the highlight of his career I guess. I heard he wanted to be President, but that never went anywhere. Years later, I heard he died and wondered what he had done all those years betwen Mayor and the end. I kind of felt he had more to offer than he ever was able to give.