Abraham Beame: 104th New York City mayor (1906 - 2001)
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Abraham Beame
104th New York City mayor

Abraham Beame

Abraham Beame
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro 104th New York City mayor
A.K.A. Abraham David Beame
Was Politician
From United States of America
Field Politics
Gender male
Birth 20 March 1906, London
Death 10 February 2001, Manhattan (aged 94 years)
Politics Democratic Party
Abraham Beame
The details (from wikipedia)


Abraham David Beame (March 20, 1906 – February 10, 2001) was the 104th Mayor of New York City, from 1974 to 1977. As mayor, he presided over the city during its fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, during which the city was almost forced to declare bankruptcy.

Early life

Beame was born Abraham David Birnbaum in London. His parents were Esther (née Goldfarb) and Philip Birnbaum, Jewish immigrants from Poland who fled Warsaw. Beame and his family left England when he was three months old. 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, where he graduated from its Baruch School with honors in 1928 with a degree in business.


Career before politics

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

He was appointed New York City's Director of the Budget, and served from 1952 to 1961.

Early political career

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.

Mayor of New York City

Abraham Beame
Beame tours the South Bronx with President Jimmy Carter and H.U.D. Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris in 1977

Beame defeated State Senator John Marchi in the 1973 mayoral election, becoming the 104th Mayor of New York City. He 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". He served during the 1977 blackout crisis as well as the United Nations 30th anniversary in 1975, the Statue of Liberty's 90th anniversary in 1976, coinciding with the nation's bicentennial that year, the Son of Sam 1976-1977 murder spree of David Berkowitz, hometowners' Kiss first four Madison Square Garden shows in 1977 (February 18; December 14–16) and President Carter's presidential debut tour in 1977 (October 4–5). When he left office in 1977, the city budget had changed from a $1.5 billion deficit to a surplus of $200 million.

After a chaotic four years as mayor, Beame ran for a second term in 1977, and finished third in the Democratic primary, behind Representative Ed Koch and New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo, and ahead of former Representative Bella Abzug, Representative Herman Badillo and Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton. He was succeeded by Koch, who won the general election on November 8, 1977.

Beame was the first mayor of New York City who was a practicing Jew. (Fiorello La Guardia, who was mayor from 1934 to 1945, was halachically Jewish because his mother was born Jewish, but was raised as an Episcopalian and practiced that religion all his life.)

Personal life

Abraham Beame was 5 ft 2 (157 cm) tall.

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


Beame died, aged 94, on February 10, 2001—just two months after the death of his predecessor, Lindsay—after open-heart surgery at New York University Medical Center.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 06 Aug 2019. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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