We've been sitting on this picture from the archives for a long, long time, assuming that nobody would be able to help us figure out who this smoking fellow is with Geraldine Ferraro. (Smoking inside! What's that all about!)
But lo and behold, one reader emailed us and hypothesized that the dapper gentleman is a one Irving Newman. We started to do some research into Newman, and discovered some gems about New York City government in the process.
It turns out, Newman was the first “mayor” of the Little City Hall on Union Turnpike between 192nd and 193rd streets. While there were already community boards in place, in the early 1970's the administration of Mayor John Lindsay set up several “Little City Halls” across the five boroughs, each with a District Manager and a small “Service Cabinet” made up of representatives of various city agencies.
The idea was to further decentralize city government, and the Little City Halls would advise the Big City Hall on the best uses and allocation of city resources in the part of the city it oversaw. Newman, our tipster informs us, headed up one of those Little City Halls.
When the City Charter was amended in 1975, the two concepts were consolidated and became the 59 community boards we have today, which each still has a district manager.
According to a New York Times obituary from 1989, Newman was the head of Emme, a Manhattan hat manufacturer. In addition to serving in the Lindsay administration, he held roles under both mayors Abe Beame and Ed Koch.
Newman even has a traffic triangle named after him. It is located not far from the Little City Hall he ran, sitting at the intersection of Parsons Boulevard, 72nd Avenue and Aguilar Avenue. It's been at the center of development controversies since at least 2001.
So there you have it, goslings, Irving Newman!