It really doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the policies of NEW YORK CITY'S OUTGOING MAYOR, because he’s not here to debate you — he’s here to get things done.


Decades from now, New York City will still be Michael Bloomberg’s city. Technology will change the way business is conducted. Shifting populations will alter commuting, entertainment and industry. Fashion will have changed a dozen times. But Bloomberg, who has served as mayor of the most populated city in the United States since 2002, has altered its character so deeply that his legacy will be aggressively visible to the next several generations of city dwellers.

Part of the reason for his far-reaching influence is that Bloomberg, 71, is not just a politician — Wall Street titans around the world coo his name every time they lovingly refer to his company’s software platform, which provides them vital financial information at the push of a button. Bloomberg, who started the business 30 years ago with impressive prescience, still owns the money tree of a company. The many billions of dollars Bloomberg L.P. has generated in profits — Bloomberg came from a middle-class background and is now the 13th-richest person in the world — have allowed him to become a powerful philanthropist as well. From off-Broadway shows to museums to outdoor concerts, it is rare to go to a cultural event in New York that doesn’t thank him or his charitable organization for its support.

His money also has allowed him a level of freedom that no other politician has been able to mold into such an advantage. Bloomberg is beholden only to the voters who elect him. He takes $1 as his salary and refuses money from special-interest groups. He doesn’t need the headaches of a life in politics, and his public demeanor seems to make it clear that being mayor is more of an obligation than an ego boost.

At press conferences, he answers questions with the seeming mix of annoyance and urgency that he has so much to accomplish and so little time to complete all his goals. He throws himself into the causes he believes in like a bungee jumper. Even on the long-shot policies — and there have been several long shots — his rhetoric reveals unflinching certainty that what he is proposing is best for the city and to stand against it is, simply, dumb. This freedom and confidence led to groundbreaking policies like a smoking ban, which was met with much resistance and has since been championed around the world. It also led to some frustrating public defeats, like his attempt to introduce traffic-congestion pricing in Manhattan and the recent court battle over his ban of large, sugary drinks.