In the final hours of his 12-year mayoralty, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a few moments to climb atop his desk in the middle of his infamous bullpen and address his staff.

 

"I always wanted to stand up here," the 71-year-old mayor said with an almost boyish smile.

 

He thanked them for their service on behalf of the denizens of the city, and told them how lucky he, and they, had been to serve.

 

"We started with a good hand to play," he said. "We've taken that and we've done what we were supposed to do: We've taken it very far ahead."

 

And he expressed the same hope for the future that he has in several speeches leading up to his departure.

"And now we're going to leave a good hand to play for the next administration," he continued. "And hopefully, they will do a better job than we did, because that's what we want."

The mayor told his staff they had shown the country and the world a city where everyone was able to "practice their religion, say what they want to say, love who they want to love." Staffers cheered at these allusions to some of the mayor's most principled battles: his defense of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" and advocacy for marriage equality.

"And it's all because of you," the mayor said.

Bloomberg then embarked on his final walk as mayor from City Hall to the nearby subway station.

With hundreds of current and former city employees and their families lining his path, the mayor moved slowly through the crowd, bidding people a happy new year.

As he passed through the gates of City Hall, a host of firefighters were lined up along his way to the subway. True to form, the mayor stopped and shook hands with then, delivering the thanks he has always deemed so important.

"Thanks for keeping us safe," he said.

One firefighter nodded, and responded, "Good luck, sir."

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat