FLASHBACK: Lindsay makes leap from G.O.P. to Dems

BY GABE HERMAN | An article on Page One of The Villager on Aug. 19, 1971, was about Mayor John Lindsay’s recent switch to the Democratic Party, and how it would affect his past and future political alliances.

Despite still being in the “Democratic honeymoon” phase, Lindsay’s close associates worried about his connection with Vincent Albano, New York County G.O.P. chief, and “political bosses” and “power brokers” of Lindsay’s previous campaigns.

Lindsay was New York’s mayor from 1966-73. In the article, close associates noted to The Villager that his hero Fiorello LaGuardia also left the Republican Party during his first term as mayor. But LaGuardia did not join the Democrats and maintained an independence, keeping good relationships with local Republican leaders.

John Lindsay perused The Villager during his congressional campaign in 1958. (Photo by The Villager)

Lindsay’s party switch was described by those close to him as “like jumping into a roaring furnace from a comparatively tiny frying pan,” according to the article, by Frank Daniels.

In another article, Village community and political leaders were concerned about the impact of a new “ferry boat clinic” that provided methadone for addicts, stationed at Pier 45, at W. 10th St.

The Gold Star Mother was a converted Staten Island ferry boat, being used for patients of the West Side Medical Center on the Upper West Side, which had recently closed. The vessel clinic serviced 500 volunteer patients who had to be at least 18 years old, city residents and heroin addicts for at least two years.

Rachelle Wall, Planning Board 2 chairperson, said local leaders’ main objection was the Village not being notified of the clinic’s move into the area. Possible negative impacts included decreased police protection for the Village, increased drug traffic on the nearby Morton St. Pier, and the clinic’s patients falling prey to addicts and thieves.

Wall said the clinic’s sudden relocation was “another instance of the city’s disregard of neighborhood government.”

In August 1971, the Village community was concerned about a floating methadone clinic suddenly arriving at Pier 45 a.k.a. the Christopher St. Pier. (Photo by The Villager)

Dr. Robert Newman, director of the City Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program, said patients had not been robbed at the city’s other 22 similar clinics. And he said that in other clinics, patients left the area immediately after treatment.

Newman said that ending addiction was a major city problem. And he added of the floating facility’s impact on the Village, “The clinic won’t eliminate your problems, but it won’t add to them.”

Also in the same issue, the rock musical “Godspell” received the National Theater Arts Conference’s Dineen Award for its “relevancy of theme and positive statement.” The musical had just moved Uptown from the Cherry Lane Theatre, at 38 Commerce St., to the Promenade Theater. In its 100th performance, the show was praised for its “positive statement to a world weary of negativism.”

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