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New Mayor of NYC Greets New Yorkers, Prepares for Next Four Years - 2002-01-02

The new mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is off to a busy start in the new year, as the city moves forward still in the shadow of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Michael Bloomberg, referred to by many now as "Mayor Mike," is going through the usual rituals of a new year in the "Big Apple." He is moving about the city shaking hands, at least 5,000 so far, he says, and wishing people peace and joy.

Mayor Mike welcomed the first New York baby born in 2002, and promised her parents he would write a recommendation for college when the time comes.

New judges and cabinet appointments were sworn in, as the new administration readies itself to lead New York for the next four-years.

Mayor Mike has already signaled some financial belt-tightening, starting with a 20 percent cut in the size of his own office staff. Speaking to invited guests at his swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Bloomberg reached out to all of New York's eight million residents, saying the city will have to make do with less.

"Throughout our history, New Yorkers have always made the sacrifices necessary to achieve a better tomorrow, and there will be a better tomorrow," he said.

New York's cultural diversity at times strains the city's social fabric. And Washington, as well as Albany - the seat of the state government - often bristle at what New York City says it needs to sustain itself as the hub of international tourism and finance.

But things have changed after the terror attack of September 11. The entire country rallied behind New York. New Yorkers, too, seem more united, at least for now. Mayor Bloomberg saids he plans to build on it,

"I will form a new partnership with Washington, with Albany, with our city council, with our borough presidents, with our community boards. This is an historic moment. We cannot afford to fight with each other."

As attitudes and hopes take shape for 2002, some believe it is not possible to celebrate a new year, without remembering what was lost last year. Visitors, domestic and foreign, are climbing up to a new observation platform near the World Trade Center site to view the devastation, "This means a lot to me to come and see colleagues who have lost their lives and it is just absolute devastation," said a flight attendant from England. "I can not believe that one person can bring so much upset to a country. And I hope everything for New York goes well this year," she said.

"I was here in New York, and I just felt like it was the duty of every American to come here and see what has happened," another tourist said. "I am amazed at how New York has bounced back from it, and I do not think terrorists realize the stamina of the people of this area when they did what they did," another said.

If September 11 was the defining moment of 2001, New York's message for 2002 is continuity. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rang the closing bell on Wall Street Monday for the last trading session of the year. His successor was there to open the first session of 2002.

Life goes on in New York. Broadway hopes to shine its blazing lights on returning tourists. Restaurants and shops are looking forward to teeming activity once again. Of course, 2002 is uncharted waters at this point. But New York clearly is determined to make a comeback.