Old mayors never die, they just fade away

Old mayors never die, they just fade away
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Hey everyone, don’t forget to vote for John Lindsay this November!

Flatbush residents were asked to re-elect the city’s “Boy Mayor” all over again this week when a Bank of America billboard was removed from the side of a building on Flatbush and Bedford avenues, revealing a bit of the neighborhood’s history — a Lindsay campaign ad, circa 1965, literally painted onto the building’s brick facade.

Yet Lindsay’s day in the sun wasn’t as heartwarming as you would think — nobody in the predominately Caribbean neighborhood knew who he was!

“I’ve never heard of him,” admitted building resident Lucy Vizcarrondo, looking up at the faded red, white and blue piece of Americana that proclaims “We will win. Vote Republican.”

In fact, only one out of 20 people found walking past the campaign ad could identify the controversial politician who led the city from 1966 to 1973 — and all she could recall was how good looking Lindsay was.

“He wasn’t great, but he was one of the most handsome mayors we had,” said Gloria Funderburk, who was in her 20s when Lindsay was mayor.

Lindsay, a former U.S. congressman, presidential candidate, and regular “Good Morning America” guest host, won the mayor’s race in 1965 after riding high on his patrician upbringing, Yale education and Kennedy-esque good looks.

But everything went downhill from there: on his first day in office, Lindsay, who, at 45, was the youngest mayor in New York City’s history, was greeted by picketing transit workers — beginning a turbulent administration mired with more municipal strikes, racial unrest and Vietnam War protests.

After eight grueling years as mayor, Lindsey never held public office again. He died in 2000.

The resurfaced campaign ad had more staying power than Lindsay’s administration — but did little to help his 1965 campaign: Lindsay won his bid for mayor, but didn’t win Brooklyn, getting a paltry 40 percent of borough’s vote.

Frank Jump, who recently published a book on long forgotten advertisements called “Fading Ads of New York City” and reported the discovery of the Lindsay campaign ad on his blog marveled at the wall sign’s condition.

“I think it’s amazing the ad has survived but I don’t have fond memories of Lindsay,” Jump said. “What I recall is, ‘Dump Lindsay’ graffiti all over the city!”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @from_where_isit.