In 1921, on this day the thirty-seventh President of the United States, John Vliet Lindsay (pictured) was born in West End Avenue to an upper middle class family of English and Dutch extraction that had resided in New York City ever since the 1660s.
John V. Lindsay
37th US PresidentWith the outbreak of World War II, Lindsay completed his studies early and joined the United States Navy as a gunnery officer. He obtained the rank of lieutenant, earning five battle stars through action in the invasion of Sicily and a series of landings in the Pacific theater. Resuming at Yale he received his law degree in 1948, ahead of schedule.
Back in New York, Lindsay he met his future wife, Mary Anne Harrison, at the wedding of Nancy Bush (daughter of Connecticut's Senator Prescott Bush and sister of future President George H.W. Bush). After they married he was admitted to the bar, and rose to become a partner in his law firm four years later.
He started gravitating toward politics, serving as one of the founders of the Youth for Eisenhower club in 1951 and as president of the New York Young Republican club in 1952. In 1958, with the backing of Herbert Brownell, Bruce Barton, John Aspinwall Roosevelt, and Mrs Wendell Wilkie, Lindsay won the Republican primary and went on to be elected to Congress as the representative of the "Silk Stocking" district, Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The life of Lindsay and his fellow New Yorkers changed forever on August 17, 1960. New York City suffered the worst storm in its history as a hurricane that by today's standards would be graded Category 4 hit just after 12:30 PM; dubbed "the Jamaica Bay hurricane" because it made landfall near the Jamaica Bay section of Queens, the storm flooded large sections of Queens and Brooklyn and also devastated much of Manhattan and the Bronx. Many of New York's most famous landmarks were heavily damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, which also brought the city's mass transit systems to a screeching halt as flood waters blocked subway tunnels and overran most of the city's major bus routes.
Within months, Robert F. Wagner would resign as mayor of New York City after weeks of constantly growing criticism of his leadership of the response to the Jamaica Bay hurricane; City Council president Abe Stark was sworn in as new mayor as 12:01 that afternoon to finish out the remainder of Wagner's term. Stark, in turn, would be replaced by Congressman and surprise write-in winner of the 1960 mayoral elections John Lindsay.
Due to his vigourous leadership of the rebuilding of the City, he was re-elected in a landslide. But more significantly, he had gained national prominence through the new media of television. Before his second term was out, he was already being talked about as a candidate for the 1968 Presidential election. His opponent in the Republican Primaries would be Michigan Governor George W. Romney who was forced to suspend his campaign due to the tragic death of his son in a car crash in France. And his substitute, fellow Michiganer Robert P. Griffin was unable to retain enough delegates at the Convention. Buoyed by this victory, Lindsay defeated Hubert Humphrey in the Fall.