How Will New York's Landscape Change Once Mayor Mike Leaves Office?

Ryan Holeywell looks at the land use legacy of the Bloomberg Administration - perhaps his "signal achievement" - and wonders if his successor can continue the momentum.

2 minute read

March 2, 2013, 1:00 PM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


His headline making positions on gun control, climate change, and big, sugary beverages belie what may be Michael Bloomberg's most enduring legacy as Mayor - the physical transformation of New York City.

"If predecessor Rudolph Giuliani was the mayor who made New York a safer place to live, Bloomberg is the guy who’s made it a more pleasant one," says Holeywell. "Through an unprecedented emphasis on parks, pedestrians and development, Bloomberg’s signal achievement could be the physical transformation of the city. His commitment to livability has put an indelible imprint on Gotham. Now, his mayoral tenure is coming to an end; a new leader will be elected in six months. And there’s one question that underscores every conversation about the upcoming election: Can the momentum of the Bloomberg years continue?"

“'I think for a good 50 years, there was a sense that this is our city, and we’re stuck with it,' says Aaron Naparstek, a fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and founder of the website Streetsblog, which covers land-use and transportation policy in New York. 'One of the really great legacies of the Bloomberg administration is going to be this sense that we can change things.'”

“We clearly have moved into a new era now where people see that it’s really possible to redesign New York City streets, the waterfront, the public spaces and the parks,” Naparstek continues. “These things are not just set in stone. These are things that we have control over.”

However, he warns, "Mayor Bloomberg did have a unique ability, for better or for worse, to ignore a lot of that stuff and didn’t really feel so beholden to it. The next mayor almost certainly is not going to be insulated.”

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