Abraham Beame

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Abraham Beame
Abraham D. Beame.jpg
104th Mayor of New York City[1]
In office
January 1, 1974 – December 31, 1977
Preceded by John V. Lindsay
Succeeded by Edward I. Koch
36th and 38th New York City Comptroller
In office
January 1, 1970 – December 31, 1973
Preceded by Mario Procaccino
Succeeded by Harrison J. Goldin
In office
January 1, 1962 – December 31, 1965
Preceded by Lawrence E. Gerosa
Succeeded by Mario Procaccino
Personal details
Born Abraham David Birnbaum
(1906-03-20)March 20, 1906
London, United Kingdom
Died February 10, 2001(2001-02-10) (aged 94)
New York, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Ingerman
Profession Accountant
Religion Jewish

Abraham David "Abe" Beame (March 20, 1906 – February 10, 2001) was Mayor of New York City from 1974 to 1978 as a Democrat.[2] As such, he presided over the city during the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, during which the city was almost forced to declare bankruptcy.

Early life[edit]

He was born Abraham David Birnbaum in London.[3] His parents were Esther (née Goldfarb) and Philip Birnbaum, Polish Jewish immigrants who fled Warsaw.[4][5] Beame and his family left England when he was three months old.[4] He was raised on New York City's Lower East Side.

He was a student at P.S. 160, the High School of Commerce, and City College of New York,[3] where he graduated from its Baruch School with honors in 1928[4] with a degree in business.[5]

Career[edit]

Career before politics[edit]

While still a student at City College of New York, he co-founded an accounting firm, Beame & Greidinger.[4] After graduation he also taught accounting from 1929 to 1946 at Richmond Hill High School in Queens,[5] and eventually accounting and commercial law at Rutgers University during 1944 and 1945.

He was appointed New York City's Director of the Budget,[4] serving from 1952 to 1961.

Early political career[edit]

Beame was a "clubhouse" or machine politician, a product of the Brooklyn wing of the regular Democratic organization (that borough's equivalent of Manhattan's Tammany Hall) as opposed to the "reform" Democrats who entered New York City politics in the 1950s. He was a Democrat and was elected to two terms as city comptroller in 1961 and 1969.

In 1965 he was the Democratic nominee for Mayor, but was defeated by the Republican candidate, John V. Lindsay.

As Mayor of New York City[edit]

He defeated State Senator John Marchi in the 1973 mayoral election, becoming the 104th Mayor of New York City.[3] Beame faced the worst fiscal crisis in the city's history and spent the bulk of his term attempting to ward off bankruptcy.

He slashed the city workforce, froze salaries, and reconfigured the budget, which proved unsatisfactory until reinforced by actions from newly created state-sponsored entities and the granting of federal funds. However, "he was credited with distributing the City's dwindling resources equitably".[2] He served during the 1977 blackout crisis. When he left office in 1977, the city budget had changed from a $1.5 billion deficit[4] to a surplus of $200 million.[3]

After a chaotic four years as mayor, he ran for a second term in 1977 and finished third in the Democratic primary, behind U.S. Representative Ed Koch and New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo. Beame outpolled former Congresswoman Bella Abzug, Congressman Herman Badillo and Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton in the 1977 primary. Beame was succeeded by Ed Koch.[4]

Beame was the first mayor of New York City who was a practicing Jew[5] (earlier Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was of Jewish ancestry on his mother's side, but he was Episcopalian).

Personal life[edit]

Abraham Beame was 5 ft 2 in (160 cm) tall.[6]

He was married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary (née Ingerman),[4] for 67 years.[3] They raised two sons, Edmond and Bernard (Buddy),[4] and resided in Brooklyn: first in Crown Heights and later near Prospect Park.[3]

Beame died on February 10, 2001 at the age of 94 after open-heart surgery at New York University Medical Center.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Green Book: Mayors of the City of New York" on the official NYC website
  2. ^ a b "Parks Remembers Mayor Beame". Daily Plant (New York City Department of Parks & Recreation) XVI (3304). February 16, 2001. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Giuliani, Rudolph W. "Remarks at the Funeral Service for Mayor Abraham Beame". NYC.gov. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Marks, Jason. "12 Who Made It Big: Abraham D. Beame '28". History of Baruch College. Baruch College, City University of New York. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d "New York City's first Jewish mayor". Richmond Hill Historical Society. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Sewell, Chan (December 4, 2006). "The Mayor’s Tall Tales". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (February 11, 2001). "Abraham Beame Is Dead at 94; Mayor During 70's Fiscal Crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2010. Abraham D. Beame, an accountant and clubhouse Democrat who climbed the gray ranks of municipal bookkeeping and confounded oddsmakers to become mayor of New York in the mid-1970s, only to spend his term struggling with the worst fiscal calamity in the city's history, died yesterday at New York University Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 94. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lawrence E. Gerosa
New York City Comptroller
1962–1965
Succeeded by
Mario Procaccino
Preceded by
Mario Procaccino
New York City Comptroller
1970–1973
Succeeded by
Harrison J. Goldin
Preceded by
John V. Lindsay
Mayor of New York City
1974–1977
Succeeded by
Edward I. Koch
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Wagner, Jr.
Democratic Nominee for Mayor of New York City
1965
Succeeded by
Mario Procaccino
Preceded by
Mario Procaccino
Democratic Nominee for Mayor of New York City
1973
Succeeded by
Edward I. Koch