How many mayors are there in the world? We don’t know, and neither does Google. However, Google does know the name of every single mayor New York has ever had, and that surely means the “Mayor of New York City” is a very significant one. He or she leads an organization that has a budget of over 70 billion dollars and employs 330,000 people. That’s a lot more than in your average city. Until today there have been 109 NYC mayors. Let’s take a look at a couple of exceptional ones from recent times.
Fiorello La Guardia
La Guardia’s nickname, “Little Flower,” is derived from his Italian first name and refers to his height of only about 5’2” (1.57 m). His legacy as mayor, however, is one of the most impressive. He was in office from 1934 to 1945. During his term, he primarily concentrated on the reconstruction and maintenance of the then-dilapidated infrastructure. Parks, highways, an airport, and countless apartment buildings for social housing were built from the ground up. At the same time, he was highly successful in fighting the then-notorious corruption and organized crime. His name and accomplishments are remembered with an airport, a street in Manhattan, and a sculpture on that street.
Ed Koch was mayor from 1978 to 1989. His accomplishments were numerous. Like La Guardia, he was responsible for the construction of lots of housing for socially disadvantaged people. He was the first mayor to create laws against the discrimination of LGBTQ employees of the City of New York. However, he wasn’t always on the same wavelength as his citizens. For one, he was an ardent supporter of the death penalty, which repeatedly earned him violent criticism from New Yorkers. The eternal bachelor liked to ride the subway, and he’d often walk up to strangers on a crowded street corner and ask them how they were doing.
Giuliani was mayor of New York from 1994 to 2011. During his term, crime rates sunk at an unprecedented rate. New York City was suddenly one of the safest cities in the USA, which simultaneously made for a dramatic economic and touristic boom. Mayor Giuliani’s zero-tolerance politics, however, did not come without their price, and he certainly wasn’t loved by everyone. Some circles accused him of stifling the city’s spirit. All in all, however, even today most people seem to think he made the city more livable for everybody. In his last year of service, he had to act as a crisis manager in the largest catastrophe the city had ever seen—the attacks of September 11th.
After La Guardia and Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg was the third-ever Republican mayor in the history of the city to win the re-election. As in the case of his two predecessors, his views differed drastically from those of the mother party, especially on social issues. He was mayor from 2002 to 2013. During his time in office, he resigned from the Republican party and became an independent. As one of the richest men in the world, he renounced his salary and worked for a symbolic $1 per year. His time in office was characterized by economic upswing and great progress in quality of life. He has left a visible legacy in the city’s new car-free zones, bike paths, the bike-sharing program Citibike, and many other projects. However, he was often accused of being too closely associated with wealthy circles—it’s not quite clear if all New York citizens profited equally from the economic upturn. Bloomberg also created a law that secured him a third term in office, which earned him lots of criticism.