I’m not equipped to assess the tenure of the mayor because I’m not a political analyst and because the city is so much bigger, so much richer than any mayor. Even Michael Bloomberg.
We elect the people who reflect what we think we need. After the unbridled meanness of Rudolph Guiliani, we thought we needed the imperious cool of a technocrat, not just once, but three times. But when he went for that third term, he lost a lot of us who suspected megalomania finally was overtaking the cool.
Back in 2002 the city was still limping, aching and dazed. The mayor emphasized health: no smoking; a pedestrian square in the middle of Broadway; bigger bike lanes; smaller sodas. Personally, I didn’t care that much. I was just glad that the air of grievous injury was lifting.
He advocated for more money for the city. He fought with Albany. That was good. But stop and frisk, the dubious appointments to head education, plowing through Zuccotti Park? Not good at all. I could do this all day.
His dozen years were bookended by tragedy, renewal, progress and strain, but that’s life in Gotham. Mostly, I credit New York’s resilience to New Yorkers.
Bob Garfield once told me he wished he loved anything as much as I love New York City. It reminds of that thing Dylan Thomas supposedly said: “I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I wouldn’t ever dare ask that question.”