The Lindsay Administration and the Sanitation Crisis of New York City, 1966-1973

Themis Chronopoulos

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines efforts by the John V. Lindsay administration (1966–1973) to deal with the New York City sanitation crisis of the late 1960s and early 1970s. By this period, the Department of Sanitation could barely function in most low-income neighborhoods of New York City, and this resulted in a series of direct and indirect protest actions. The mass media blamed Mayor Lindsay for the situation and characterized him as an ineffectual city manager. This image has persisted with scholars contending that Lindsay never figured out how to run the city government. This article diverges from these accounts and argues that the Lindsay administration actually rebuilt the Department of Sanitation—a city agency that was operationally breaking down before Lindsay became mayor. In fact, the Lindsay administration popularized the notion that a modern city with global aspirations has to meet the basic spatial needs of its residents and that efficient and responsive sanitation delivery can be achieved through the rationalization of resources and services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1154
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Urban History
Issue number6
Early online date30 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • sanitation
  • New York city
  • John V. Lindsay
  • municipal services
  • low-income neighbourhoods
  • urban governance
  • urban crisis

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