From the trivial to the seismic, Boston has changed a lot during Tom Menino’s 20-year watch as mayor. Scrod is no longer the staple of local restaurant menus. Department stores are no longer the main pillars of Boston’s business community.
The city feels less parochial. Thanks to the Big Dig and Menino’s development strategy, Boston’s heart is shifting towards the waterfront. New enterprises are replacing the old. A new real estate market is opening up for hip newcomers who prefer to live and work in the city. It’s a dramatic transformation, and Menino can take credit for coaxing it along, in good times and bad.
But whether this new Boston will get a new mayor who reflects all that change is another question entirely.
Menino’s long tenure, and the way he used power to squash potential challengers, diminished the pool of mayoral prospects. He outlasted political contemporaries who were interested in the job. They are now in the same age bracket as he is — 70 or pushing it. And Menino worked hard to keep younger would-be rivals at bay.
Over the years, he made it clear he didn’t appreciate efforts to encourage would-be successors. Business and civic leaders shunned Menino’s potential rivals, for fear of offending him. Those leaders needed him, after all, for everything from building permits and grants to snow plowing and street lights.
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