Howard Golden ’58, Former Borough President and Champion of Brooklyn, Dies at 98


Howard Golden

Howard Golden ’58, a former borough president of Brooklyn and esteemed alumnus, died on Jan. 24, 2024. (Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel, supplied by Brooklyn Democratic Party) 

Howard Golden ’58, who served as Brooklyn borough president for a quarter century and was an unrelenting champion for the borough throughout his storied political career, died on Jan. 24. He was 98. 

A straight-talking, savvy attorney who ascended through Brooklyn’s political ranks—as New York City Council representative for Borough Park and Kensington from 1970 to 1976, and as borough president from 1977 to 2001—Golden was known for his unadulterated love for and commitment to the advancement of Brooklyn. 

Among Golden’s many accomplishments, particularly in the area of economic development,  was the spearheading of a major revitalization effort in Downtown Brooklyn in the 1980s, which included the construction of the MetroTech Center, the New York Times reported in an obituary published Jan. 24.  

While Golden was known for sparring with Manhattan’s establishment and with fellow politicians, including mayors from John Lindsay to Ed Koch to Rudolph Giuliani, his political adversaries acknowledged his tireless efforts on behalf of constituents.  

At the swearing-in ceremony for Golden when he started his sixth consecutive term as the 16th Brooklyn Borough President in 1998, Giuliani said, “In a public service career that spans more than three decades, Howard Golden continues to distinguish himself as a strong and tenacious leader fighting for the interests of his borough. Under his steady guidance, Brooklyn has weathered some very difficult moments but has always managed to survive the tough times.” 

Golden was the product of the Brooklyn political club system and led the powerful Roosevelt Democratic Club in Borough Park. When, in 1984, Golden succeeded his mentor, the legendary powerbroker Meade Esposito, as Brooklyn Democratic party leader, Joe Klein wrote in a New York magazine piece, “Howard Golden, at 58, was now one of the most influential men in New York politics, borough president of Brooklyn, and more important, leader of what once was—and still may be—the most powerful political machine in the state, the Democratic party of Kings County.”  

Reflecting on the period between 1984 and 1990, when he was both Brooklyn’s Democratic party leader and borough president, Golden said, in a 2009 Times story, “The reform types stared at me like I was ‘the Organization.’ Of course I was ‘the Organization.’ I was the boss!”  

When the New York City Charter was revised in 1989 to prohibit high-ranking city officials from simultaneously holding party offices, Golden opted to remain borough president and relinquished his party leader post.  

Golden was born in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn on Nov. 6, 1925, and worked to help support his family after the untimely death of his father when he was 16. Serving as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II, he was part of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Upon his discharge, Golden attended and graduated from New York University, followed by Brooklyn Law School on the G.I. Bill.   

An outspoken booster for the borough that made him and that he helped to thrive, Golden is quoted by the Times as saying in a 2000 speech, “There are two kinds of people in this world — those that come from Brooklyn, and those that wish they did.”

Golden is survived by his wife, Aileen, their daughters, Michele Golden and Dana Golden Moses, and their two grandchildren.