Television and the Mayoralty of John V. Lindsay

Thursday, May 20, 2010
6:30 pm ET
New York

In Person

Jeff Greenfield, Senior Political Correspondent, CBS News
Robert Shrum, Senior Fellow, NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, longtime Democratic political consultant and former speechwriter for Lindsay
Ronnie Eldridge, Host, Eldridge & Co. on CUNY-TV; Lindsay’s Special Assistant during his second term
Earl Caldwell, Professor, Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications; Host/Producer, The Caldwell Chronicle on WBAI/Pacifica; Director, of the History Project, at The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

A reception follows the program


Two-term New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay (1966 to 1973) was in the vanguard of politicians who achieved national celebrity thanks in no small part to television’s infatuation with vivid, charismatic leaders. A dynamic politician who wore public service like a pair of loose-fitting jeans, Lindsay was a media magnet, whether campaigning for office, chatting with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, hosting his own weekly television program, or walking nightly in disadvantaged neighborhoods either alone or with celebrities like Marlon Brando and Sammy Davis, Jr., to demonstrate solidarity with the underprivileged. Lindsay became the champion of America’s cities and distinguished himself as a mayor who was able to bridge the racial divide and restrain the police to keep New York stable and peaceful while other major cities were erupting in civil disorder. It is no coincidence that it was Lindsay who established the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, to bring filmmaking back to the city, or that the New York Times, in composing his obituary in 2000, summoned a filmic reference by describing him as a “lanky Mr. Smith with an engagingly open smile, talking about shining ideals, about a great city where people would work together, about replacing old power brokers and party-hack government with dedicated young people who cared about democracy and equality.”

Yet Lindsay inherited a city with near-crippling problems, and his eight-year reign was rocked by debilitating labor unrest, racial and ethnic tensions, and economic struggles that ultimately disappointed some of those who had embraced his intoxicating message of idealism and reform. He has left a legacy of controversy, yet a wide range of policies and programs that continue to shape life in today’s New York, from closing parks to traffic to air-conditioned subway cars.

The Paley Center, in association with The Museum of the City of New York, assembles an array of journalists, politicians, and former Lindsay aides for a look back at these exhilarating yet trying times, and at the role that television played in shaping the Lindsay legacy.

Presented in conjunction with the Museum of the City of New York exhibition America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, running from May 5 to October 3. 

Members of the Museum of the City of New York may purchase tickets at the Paley Center Member price.