Abraham Beame

Abraham David Beame (March 20, 1906 – February 10, 2001)[2] was the 104th Mayor of New York City, from 1974 to 1977.[3] 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.

Abraham Beame
Abraham D. Beame.jpg
104th Mayor of New York City[1]
In office
January 1, 1974 – December 31, 1977
Preceded byJohn V. Lindsay
Succeeded byEd Koch
36th and 38th New York City Comptroller
In office
January 1, 1970 – December 31, 1973
MayorJohn V. Lindsay
Preceded byMario Procaccino
Succeeded byHarrison J. Goldin
In office
January 1, 1962 – December 31, 1965
MayorRobert F. Wagner, Jr.
Preceded byLawrence E. Gerosa
Succeeded byMario Procaccino
Personal details
Abraham David Birnbaum

(1906-03-20)March 20, 1906
London, England, UK
DiedFebruary 10, 2001(2001-02-10) (aged 94)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Mary Ingerman
(m. 1928; died 1995)
Alma materCity College of New York

Early lifeEdit

Beame was born Abraham David Birnbaum in London.[4] His parents were Esther (née Goldfarb) and Philip Birnbaum, Jewish immigrants from Poland who fled Warsaw.[5][6] Beame and his family left England when he was three months old.[5] 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,[4] where he graduated from its Baruch School with honors in 1928[5] with a degree in business.[6]


Career before politicsEdit

While still a student at City College of New York, he co-founded an accounting firm, Beame & Greidinger.[5] After graduation, he also taught accounting from 1929 to 1946 at Richmond Hill High School in Queens,[6] and eventually accounting and commercial law at Rutgers University during 1944 and 1945.

He was appointed New York City's Director of the Budget,[5] and served from 1952 to 1961.

Early political careerEdit

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.[7]

Mayor of New York CityEdit

Beame defeated State Senator John Marchi in the 1973 mayoral election, becoming the 104th Mayor of New York City.[4] 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".[3] 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, Studio 54's grand opening in 1977, the Son of Sam 1976-1977 murder spree of David Berkowitz, hometowners' Kiss first four Madison Square Garden shows in 1977 (February 18; December 14-15-16) and President Carter's presidential debut tour in 1977 (October 4–5). When he left office on New Year's Day 1978, the city budget had changed from a $1.5 billion deficit[5] to a surplus of $200 million.[4]

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.[5]

Beame was the first mayor of New York City who was a practicing Jew.[6] (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 lifeEdit

Abraham Beame was 5 ft 2 (157 cm) tall.[8]

He was married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary (née Ingerman),[5] for 67 years.[4] They raised two sons, Edmond and Bernard (Buddy),[2][5] and resided in Brooklyn: first in Crown Heights and later near Prospect Park.[4]


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.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Green Book: Mayors of the City of New York". NYC.gov. May 14, 2012. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. on the official NYC website
  2. ^ a b c McFadden, Robert D. (February 11, 2001). "Abraham Beame Is Dead at 94; Mayor During 70's Fiscal Crisis". The New York Times. p. 1. 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.
  3. ^ a b "Parks Remembers Mayor Beame". Daily Plant. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. XVI (3304). February 16, 2001. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Giuliani, Rudolph W. "Remarks at the Funeral Service for Mayor Abraham Beame". nyc.gov.
  5. ^ 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. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "New York City's first Jewish mayor". Richmond Hill Historical Society. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Witkin, RIchard (November 3, 1965). "Lindsay Beats Beame In A Close Race; O'Connor and Procaccino Both Win; State Senate Is G.O.P.; Hughes Victor - Seesaw Contest - Vote Is Tightest Here in Quarter Century - 13% for Buckley". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  8. ^ Sewell, Chan (December 4, 2006). "The Mayor's Tall Tales". The New York Times.

External linksEdit

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