Since his first term began, ten years ago, Mayor Bloomberg’s presence at the helm has gone on so long and with such assurance that it often feels like a permanent condition of New York. Whether one agrees with every aspect of his vision for the city, his combination of great personal wealth and little political opposition has given him freedom to think about the future in a way that few politicians do. His initiative to make the city a leader in sustainability put at the core of city government a planning document that looks forward decades, PlaNYC.
Now that Bloomberg is in the final phase of his mayoralty questions arise about where the city will go next; as noted in Inhabitat, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is launching a study on how PlaNYC can be sustained.
In comments about his legacy, the mayor stresses education and economic development, but PlaNYC may be the most unique product of Bloomberg’s time in office. As one of the world’s ultimate data-driven businessmen (and currently the twelfth-richest American) he has had a pragmatic response to what science is telling us, and put city government on a path based on the best technical assessments, not on political expedience. On this issue, the mayor serves as a model of leadership that would be even more valuable if it could be replicated at the national level. More immediately, it’s a reminder that PlaNYC will require continued commitment from the city in the years post-Bloomberg, when there may be many other competing interests and no single protector.