Bill de Blasio, via Twitter

Unlike certain, ahem, other mayors.

New York City's brand-new mayor Bill de Blasio got his first big administrative test, in the form of a ton of snow all over his city. But he's tackling the problem head-on — starting with his own sidewalk. 

Yes, Mayor de Blasio shovels his own sidewalk at his Park Slope home, all while updating reporters on the city's snow cleanup efforts. Not a bad photo op for your third day in office.

And according to an earlier tweet from his wife Chirlane McCray, it looks like his son Dante (whose friends desperately tried to get him to pull some strings for a school closing) was set to help out, too. Despite Business Insider's worries that the mayor might throw out his back with his shoveling technique, de Blasio clearly knows what he's doing, telling constituents "don't lift with your back, lift with your knees," live on NY1.

He also certainly knows what message his shoveling sends: de Blasio campaigned as a more hands-on "mayor of the people," on a mission to end inequality. And what's more equal than pushing your own shovel?

It's definitely a change of pace from former mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Upper East Side billionaire often accused of prioritizing only New Yorkers who looked and earned like him. To wit, this is the sort of photo that emerges if you search for a picture of the former mayor shoveling: 

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, third left, and Whitney Museum Director Adam Weinberg, right, shovel dirt around artist Elizabeth Streb during ground breaking ceremonies for a new Whitney Museum, in New York, Tuesday, May 24, 2011 (PHOTO: AP)

There's also the matter of Bloomberg's own mixed reputation in the aftermath of New York snow storms. In 2010, a Christmas blizzard paralyzed the city with between 18 and 24 inches of snow. As the outer boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx waited for days to see their first Sanitation Department snow plows, Bloomberg dismissed concerns about the city's recovery: "The world has not come to an end. The city is going fine, Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves." He added, "Many people are taking the day off. Most stores are open." For New Yorkers without the luxury of days off — including many of the workers in those open stores — the comments seemed extremely out of touch. 

But the new mayor's response isn't entirely a departure from Bloomberg's own blizzard plan, as The New York Times reported. De Blasio's snow cleanup team includes some key holdovers from the Bloomberg administration, including the commissioners for fire and sanitation. It's still the same snow and still the same plows, the new guy just plays the part better.

This post originally appeared on The Wire, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  2. A map of Minneapolis from the late 19th century.
    Maps

    When Minneapolis Segregated

    In the early 1900s, racial housing covenants in the Minnesota city blocked home sales to minorities, establishing patterns of inequality that persist today.

  3. A map of population density in Tokyo, circa 1926.
    Maps

    How to Detect the Distortions of Maps

    All maps have biases. A new online exhibit explores the history of map distortions, from intentional propaganda to basic data literacy.

  4. A Seoul Metro employee, second left, monitors passengers, to ensure face masks are worn, on a platform inside a subway station in Seoul, South Korea.
    Transportation

    How to Safely Travel on Mass Transit During Coronavirus

    To stay protected from Covid-19 on buses, trains and planes, experts say to focus more on distance from fellow passengers than air ventilation or surfaces.

  5. photo: an open-plan office
    Life

    Even the Pandemic Can’t Kill the Open-Plan Office

    Even before coronavirus, many workers hated the open-plan office. Now that shared work spaces are a public health risk, employers are rethinking office design.

×