Klaus Wowereit was never one to bite his tongue. Before he was mayor of Berlin in 2001, he said, "I'm gay, and that's OK." It certainly was, he was elected soon after and went on to change Berlin in myriad, positive ways.
But after 13 years, "Wowi" is stepping down, following a scandal at the city's main airport, where a renovation project is six years late and millions of dollars over-budget. While Wowereit's reputation has taken a hit because of the airport issue, he remains intensely popular in many circles. His push to promote Berlin as "poor but sexy," a phrase he coined in 2003, helped change the formerly-split capital in the center of hip, where its cheap living, abundant nightlife, and graffiti-covered streets recalled New York City in the 1980s. Artists flocked to Berlin, as did tourists, including LGBT travelers. It's changing reputation helped bring thousands culture-related jobs to the city, which helped turn around its finances.
While Berlin may be gentrifying and moving beyond its "poor" past, it still remains cool; something many thank Wowereit for helping foster. As far as Wowi's future, it's anybody's guess. Read more here.