NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – An era has come to an end in New York City.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was cheered as he left City Hall for the last time as mayor. His 12 years in office officially come to an end at midnight.
A sea of flashing cameras and thunderous applause greeted Bloomberg as he left. He then walked off to the subway as he often does.
Bloomberg issued a series of tweets marking his last day, the first noting his resolve to resurrect a city still wounded by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when he first took office.
“On my first day in office, I visited the World Trade Center site and vowed NYC would rebuild stronger than ever. Today I can say we have,” he tweeted.
In another tweet, Bloomberg thanked his staff and all city employees, saying, “we’ve made every day count for NYC.”
He also wished the best for the man who will take his place.
“Best of luck to the de Blasio administration. May the best days for our city be ahead of us,” Bloomberg tweeted.
Finally, he tweeted:
Thank you, New Yorkers, for the honor and privilege of serving you these past 12 years.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) December 31, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg stood up on a desk as he addressed his staff before leaving for the night.
“We have the best team ever. I’m a little part of it, but so are every one of you. So are the 290,000 people that work for New York City and for the other agencies,” the mayor said to thunderous applause. “I think it’s fair to say we’ve done some amazing things, but hopefully, it really is just the beginning.”
As he looked back on his three terms, Bloomberg expressed hope for the future.
“Most of us are going to live in this city for the rest of our lives, and hopefully, they will do a better job than we did, because that’s what we really want. We want to have a great city for everyone. And I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve shown this country and the world that you have a great city that includes everyone, that gives opportunity to everybody – lets them practice their religion, and say what they want to say, and love whoever they want to love.”
On Tuesday morning, the mayor hosted his 13th and final interfaith prayer breakfast at the New York Public Library.
As WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported, Bloomberg will reportedly leave City Hall later Tuesday surrounded by staff, friends and well-wishers.
Bloomberg used his final speech as mayor to thank religious leaders for helping New Yorkers in need and to praise the city’s diversity.
“I have always been envious of you,” he said at an interfaith breakfast at the New York Public Library. “Because you work at the real level where the real problems are. — Big numbers are easy to deal with. It’s much tougher when you deal one on one, looking at a person right in the eye who has a problem.”
Bloomberg turned more lighthearted when he spoke about the clock winding down on his tenure.
“As you may know, I’ve been mayor now for 11 years, 364 days and about nine hours, but who’s counting?” he said.
He also cited remarks by Pope Francis about the importance of cities, then quipped, “The fact that a Jewish kid can quote the Pope in a secular building built by Protestants in front of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders really says all you need to know about New York City.”
Bloomberg told the gathering the city’s best days were still to come and added he plans to live in New York City for the rest of his life.
“It’s been a very rewarding 12 years, I’ll look back on it for the rest of my life and I’ll be able to say to my kids ‘your father tried to do something to make your life and you’re children’s better,'” said the mayor.
His final 48 hours in office included the unveiling of his official City Hall portrait and the signing of legislation banning plastic foam food containers and adding e-cigarettes to the indoor smoking ban.
The city will close out 2013 with the lowest murder rate in 50 years of record-keeping.
The New York Post editorial declared that Bloomberg “surprised us” by continuing declines in crime under way in the 90s and continuing growth from the dark days after 9/11.
The editorial ends with the Post thanking Bloomberg and saying he “did New York proud.”
Democrat Bill de Blasio will be sworn in at a private ceremony just after 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. His public inauguration will be held on the City Hall steps Wednesday at noon. Former President Bill Clinton will administer the oath of office.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)