Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio draws much of his populist identity from his Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, a bastion of outer-borough liberalism where the tree-lined streets and charming brownstones are a far cry from Manhattan’s steel-and-glass canyons.
Now de Blasio faces a crucial early decision in his transition, one fraught with political symbolism: Should he keep living in Park Slope when he takes office Jan. 1 or move to the mayor’s official residence – stately Gracie Mansion, on the Upper East Side?
For now, de Blasio has delayed that choice, saying he will make the decision with his family over Thanksgiving. But most of his neighbors in Park Slope, proud of his rise and skeptical that he could be happy anywhere else, believe that he should stay in the area he’s long called home.
Moving to Manhattan doesn’t quite fit with his populist image, which may be why de Blasio in recent weeks has backtracked on statements he made during the campaign all but committing to living in Gracie Mansion, which has sat empty for 12 years as Bloomberg remained at his palatial townhouse.
He cited the potentially long commute his 15-year-old son, Dante, would have from Gracie Mansion to his Brooklyn high school as a reason to stay.
A single, three-wheeled NYPD vehicle parked outside de Blasio’s Park Slope row house is the only sign that it’s home of the city’s next mayor. But that security will increase if he stays there after taking office and the surge of official vehicles and additional traffic at all hours of the day does worry some who live in the neighborhood that already is notorious for limited parking.
“Maybe there’s a way for him to stay in both Manhattan and Brooklyn; Manhattan during the week, Brooklyn on the weekends,” said Kevin Mandel, who has lived in Park Slope for six years. “He’d have a real `town and country’ lifestyle.”
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