David Dinkins: Twenty Years Later

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In 1989, David Dinkins, now a professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, became the first African-American elected to the office of New York City Mayor. He talks about New York twenty years ago--and this year's mayoral race.


David Dinkins

Comments [13]

R. Harris from Lake Placid, NY

David Dinkins called anyone who criticized him a racist. I am a black woman who spent most of my life in the city and I know the Dinkins era was worse squalor than the 70's. The streets were filthy, subways stank of urine, then to top off the stench the homeless started defecating in the streets! Riding the subways at night was a suicidal risk especially for women. Dinkins allowed criminals to take over the streets and freely run amok raping and robbing at their whim. The criminals had all the rights. The rich liberals had no problem with Dinkins because they lived in safe buildings with doormen and didn't use the subways. The city was a surrealistic, uncivilized nightmare for working and middle class people. The crime rate destroyed and ended many lives because of the Dinkins' administration. It is amazing that he could be a professor and that anyone would respect his teachings about anything let alone running a city. If that makes me a black racist, so be it.

Dec. 24 2013 09:06 PM
Matt from Buffalo

Dave is as always a gracious, smart, STATELY dude and a great New Yorker. That is why it is so sad to admit that every work of Washington Heights' David's description rings true. Too bad we can't combine the best features of Giuliani's governance with Dave's grace-- I guess Bloomberg comes close.

Jul. 29 2009 09:09 PM
john from Long Island

Say what you want about Rudy cleaning up the city. I used to be accosted by prostitues when I drove a limo around the city, squeegy men kicking and banging your car if you didn't pay them and the official smell of NYC was ripe urine.

Dinkins was a failure on many levels. He has is place in history and let history determine his fate.

Jul. 29 2009 05:05 PM
David Barg from Washington Heights

I arrived in New York in the fall of 1989 just in time to witness the election of David Dinkins and a young, intemperate Rudy yelling "Shut UP" as his supporters demanded a recount.

It was the more civil Dinkins who became the absolute worst mayor this city has ever known. As we witness President Obama deal with race gracefully, I recall a Dinkins administration where the primary requirement for a high level job was race-it seemed that all around Mr. Dinkins were African American.

I traveled through Port Authority frequently at that point in my life. Instead of sweeping out the bums, they put up fences on the lower level and legitimate passengers had to cross the street late at night to get to the subway.

I was blown away the first time I drove on the FDR and there were the remains of cars perched on milk cartons on the shoulders. It was more common than not to see "No radio on board" in the windows of parked cars.

The murders and crime increased and there was Mayor would show up on TV in his cute tennis outfits and explain why it was not his fault.

Thank God it only lasted 4 years. Rudy cleaned up the city and Mayor Bloomberg has done a admirable job of continuing where he left off. When I walk the streets at 11:00 at night and see families from all over the country and all over the world, walking without a care in the world, I can only recall the third world city I ventured into 20 years ago.

Jul. 29 2009 01:09 PM
Daniel Obester from Passaic, NJ

Why would you play "a truly forgetable song" for former mayor Dinkins? Trying to say something to him about how you feel about his term in office? Not very classy.

Jul. 29 2009 11:33 AM
Tom from Toronto

Huh? Truly forgettable song... No, THIS interview will be what is truly forgettable. Geez Brian, stop showing your age.

Jul. 29 2009 11:27 AM
Janet from East Village

I've always admired David Dinkins. Unfortunately, that admiration is now tempered by the fact that he endorsed a presidential because she was a friend and had helped him in the past. Why didn't you examine that comment?

Jul. 29 2009 11:21 AM

Yes Brian,
Crown Heights Yonkel Rosenbaum!
Dwell,you?????Only on some issues.

Jul. 29 2009 11:16 AM
hjs from 11211

isn't this the guy who REALLY cleaned up time square?

Jul. 29 2009 11:12 AM
CBrown from Brooklyn

Bill Thompson needs to rev up his campaign. I generally like the job Bloomberg has done, but he's done (or attempted) a bunch of things I don't like, and I resent the fact that he's basically buying the election . . . again. But I don't know hardly anything about Thompson. I know more about Reverend Billy and the Naked Cowboy's campaigns. I want an alternative to Bloomberg, but I can't vote for someone I know so little about. Thompson needs to find a way to get the word out.

Jul. 29 2009 11:05 AM

What is your relationship with Michael Bloomberg? You are seen seated together at the U.S. Open. What has he done right and what policies should he change.

Jul. 29 2009 10:39 AM

Rudy Guilliani got a lot of credit for turning around NYC. There is a lot of argument over that in that he benefited from the decisions of Koch (times square developement) the funding for the safe streets safe cities program and the Clinton crime bill. Plus the wall street and new media boom.

Do you think if you had squeaked out a reelection, that you would have been remembered far more fondly than you are today?

Jul. 29 2009 10:38 AM
Sara from Brooklyn

I was nine when David Dinkins was elected as Mayor. I remember it as an exciting time, and I was excited because it was the first election I was old enough to understand. But the thing I will never forget about Mayor Dinkins, was meeting him at a Children's Day event at Gracie Mansion. My class was invited, and we ALL got to meet him and shake his hand. I still have the t-shirt he gave out to every child there.

Jul. 29 2009 09:52 AM

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