Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a gaggle of government officials hopped the first-ever 7 train ride to the far West Side this afternoon, capping off a week-long celebration of achievements under his tenure.
“This was a historic ride. It’s the perfect symbol of New York City–what has become, again, a place where big projects can be done,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters gathered deep underground in the frigid “34th Street Hudson Yards” station, which is still under construction, after his ride on the “dignitary train.”
Mr. Bloomberg, who has spent this week touting his achievements across the five boroughs, hailed the subway extension–the first since 1950–which extends the 7 train from Times Square to 11th Avenue. The project, which he has been backing for years, is aimed at helping pave way for a budding housing and commercial development on the far West Side. Mr. Bloomberg had long vowed to ride the extension before leaving office–once joking “they’ll run a train, if i have to push it myself.” The station is set to open to the public next year.
Like he has all week in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, Mr. Bloomberg sought again to burnish his 12-year-tenure and furiously cement his legacy. Even failures, like his unsuccessful quests to land the 2012 Olympics and build a football stadium on the west side, were easily brushed off.
“Number one, this neighborhood has been redone. And if you take a look at most of the things that we wanted to build– housing, infrastructure kinds of things for the Olympics–most of them actually got done,” said Mr. Bloomberg, standing behind a podium on the subway platform. “We have two baseball stadiums, we’ve got a new football stadium. The housing we were going to build in Long Island City–you go right down the list.”
Mr. Bloomberg arrived at the station in the first car of the inaugural 7 train, where he was joined by allies like former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Related Companies Chairman Stephen Ross. Mr. Bloomberg disembarked to a flurry of photographs and later left the press conference the way he came.
Mr. Bloomberg revealed that he had indeed used his MetroCard (with a senior citizens’ discount) for the maiden voyage and that the two tunnel boring machines that created the subway extension were named for his daughters, Georgina and Emma.
As he answered questions from reporters seated in folding chairs on the platform, Mr. Bloomberg was grandiose rather than wistful, ticking off at length all the ways he believed his administration had transformed New York City.
“Take a look along the High Line. There’s a real estate developer I know who was very violently opposed to the High Line. He was just a pain about it. And then about a year-and-a-half-ago, he wrote me the nicest letter saying, ‘I was wrong and you were right, and the High Line really changed things,’” he said. “Hudson River Park. Take a look at what that’s done. Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
“There’s lots of parts that used to be no man’s land. We were in Williamsburg yesterday … on an industrial street, there’s nothing but warehouses and now there’s a juice bar and there’s an exercise place–the city keeps changing. We have people moving into neighborhoods where nobody ever thought there would be residents,” Mr. Bloomberg continued. “Downtown– when I came to work in 1966–Downtown would close up at night … Today there’s baby carriages and Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond and schools and parks and everything.”
“People don’t recognize what’s happening,” he went on, excitedly. “The Bronx used to be the symbol for crime and corruption. Today, it is safe … Dallas, Texas has the same population as the Bronx except they have two times the murder rate,” he said, claiming he’d left the city in far better shape than when he inherited it more than a decade ago.
“The momentum in this city is the legacy that we’re leaving,” he declared.