Remembering David Dinkins, New York City's First Black Mayor

In this group photograph taken at City Hall in 2009, three former mayors are shown together from the waist up.   Mayor Dinkins, wearing a black cap and jacket, is looking ahead while Mayor Koch engages with Mayor Rudy Giuliani .
Photo by 9/11 Memorial Museum Staff

The 9/11 Memoriam Museum would like to acknowledge the passing of Mayor David Dinkins, who served as the 106th mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1993, including the time of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He was 93.

A former member of the New York State Assembly and the Manhattan Borough President, Dinkins defeated incumbent Mayor Ed Koch in the Democratic primary in 1989 and went on to defeat the Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani, by 47,000 votes, the smallest margin of victory in a mayoral election.

"America has lost a great patriot," former Representative Charles Rangel, a longtime friend of Dinkins, told Gothamist/WNYC. "He was a great mayor and truly a great gentleman." 

Dinkins was charge of the city on February 26, 1993, the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. In an oral history collected by the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Dinkins said he was visiting Japan that day and kept abreast of the situation by watching CNN and speaking with New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

In the same oral history, Dinkins recalled being in midtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Dinkins, who joined the United States Marine Corps in 1945, compared 9/11 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Dinkins also recalled his daughter’s wedding reception at Windows on the World, his memories of FDNY chaplain Mychal F. Judge, and the legacy of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Soft-spoken with a regal bearing, Dinkins will be remembered for his loving description of this city in his inaugural address. 

"I see New York as a gorgeous mosaic of race and religious faith," he said, "of national origin and sexual orientation, of individuals whose families arrived yesterday and generations ago, coming through Ellis Island or Kennedy Airport or on buses bound for the Port Authority."  

By 9/11 Memorial Museum Staff

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