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!”
UPDATE: Vintage John V. Lindsay for Mayor Painted Billboard – Revealed After Over Forty Years – Flatbush, Brooklyn
Some of my earliest memories of political graffiti was a “Dump Lindsay” scrawled on an overpass going south on the Van Wyck near the Atlantic Avenue exit in Queens. My recollections of his terms were dotted with strikes and riots. I was bussed a couple of miles from my house to another school in Springfield Gardens in an attempt to integrate the schools. I was not welcomed with open arms by either the parents or students. These were turbulent years but formative ones. My best memories were of the music.
This find was gotten from a tip by Sheepshead Bites‘ Robert Fernandez. Can’t believe I’ve passed this everyday and never noticed it. I’m trying to discern if this was from Lindsay’s re-election campaign or his first election.
UPDATE DEC 29, 2011 @ 3:40PM
Upon closer inspection today during a photo shoot with the Brooklyn Paper – Courier-Life, I can see there was a billboard covering this that was recently removed. I tried to gain roof access to get a better shot and was invited into the apartment of a gentleman by the name of Ja’Mella God Allah, who remembered the former mayor Lindsay fondly. Ja’Mella, Chief of Public Relations for the Universal Black Family Awareness, Inc., and a student of the teachings of his mentor named Allah– a Black community activist during the Lindsay administration – told me about Lindsay’s efforts on keeping the Black community “together” after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Then just fourteen, Ja’Mella heard the teachings of Allah and the “Five Percenters” (also known as The Nation of Gods & Earths – NGE) who worked closely with Lindsay in keeping the community focused on moving ahead in a positive direction of peace and prosperity. This alliance was documented in the legendary New York Magazine article Special Report: The City on the Eve of Destruction by Gloria Steinem and Lloyd Weaver which featured Allah and his Five Percenters movement. The New York Mag cover showed a split Empire State Building with Lindsay on one side and Allah on the other. I couldn’t find an image of this cover but did find a slideshow of notable New York Magazine covers.
Another person in the Lindsay administration that Ja’mella remembers fondly is Barry Gottehrer, an award-winning journalist whose “newspaper series City in Crisis helped elect John V. Lindsay mayor of New York in 1965 and who then joined the administration to help defuse the subsequent crises the city faced.¹“
Ja’Mella said that the billboard that covered this Lindsay campaign painted billboard came down several weeks ago. You can see it was protecting the sign and there was some washout near the name of Kreindler.
UPDATE FRIDAY, DEC 30, 2011 12:03AM
According to reporter Eli Rosenberg of Courier-Life / The Brooklyn Paper, this was from Lindsay’s first-time-run for Mayor of the City of New York “when both Luigi Marano ran for Borough Prez and Timothy Costello for Council Prez, which they both lost.”
Here is an image from Google images Rosenberg took as a screenshot verifying that the billboard was covering this ad this summer:
AGAIN! I thank Robert Fernandez of Sheepshead Bites for the tip on this sign!