Of a calm and courteous figure, the official was a drastic change from his predecessor, Ed Koch, and his successor, Rudolph Giuliani. Criticized at the time, he later received more credit for the social policies he promoted in the Big Apple
David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City’s first African-American mayor but who was prevented from reelection by high crime rates, rising unemployment, and mismanagement of a Brooklyn riot, has died. He was 93 years old.
The former mayor died Monday, the city’s Police Department confirmed, which said he received a call from his home late at night. The first indications pointed to the fact that the death occurred due to natural causes.
Dinkins, a quiet and courteous figure with a penchant for tennis and formal wear, was a drastic departure from his predecessor, Ed Koch, and his successor, Rudolph Giuliani, two combative and often obnoxious politicians known for their impatience and toughness.
In his inauguration speech in January 1990, he spoke fondly of New York as a “magnificent mosaic of race and religious faith, of national origins and sexual orientation, of individuals whose families arrived yesterday and generations ago, passing through Ellis Island or Kennedy Airport or on buses from the Port Authority ”.
But the city which inherited also had an ugly side: the AIDS, the weapons, and cracks killed thousands of people a year, unemployment soared, as the number of people living on the street, and the city had a budget deficit of 1.5 billion dollars.
Dinkins’ understated profile has quickly deemed a flaw. Critics said it was too smooth and slow.
Dinkins did a lot at City Hall. He raised taxes to hire thousands of police officers, invested billions of dollars to revitalize abandoned homes, and his government convinced Walt Disney Corp. to invest in cleaning up the then seedy Times Square.
In recent years, he has received more credit for these accomplishments, an accolade that current mayor Bill de Blasio should have always had.
Dinkins’ death comes weeks after that of his wife, Joyce, who passed away in October at age 89.