He wound a path to power through countless backyard barbecues, old-fashioned bakeries, and neighborhood block parties, making him an uncommonly intimate figure in a time when urban politics and American cities have become anything but.
And when Thomas M. Menino grasped power, he did it like nobody else. He held it longer. He wielded it more forcefully. And he used it to orchestrate every last detail of the city — from the top of a tower in the Back Bay to a rattling pothole in Roslindale, at once an urban mechanic and something of a downtown monarch.