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Sheldon Adelson and Michael Bloomberg: the divergent paths of two Boston-bred billionaires

Posted by Alan Wirzbicki  March 19, 2012 04:54 PM

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Two billionaires, each with Boston area roots — and two different explorations of loyalty and identity.

The day after Globe columnist Farah Stockman dug deep into the roots of Dorchester-bred Sheldon Adelson, to ask how a son of ultra-liberal, hardscrabble Dorchester could emerge as Newt Gingrich's biggest backer, New York Times reporter Michael Grynbaum looks at how that city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, never forgot his hometown of Medford. From libraries to synagogues to arts organizations, Bloomberg was a quiet, behind-the-scenes presence. He even helped the son of a local restaurant owner get contacts on Wall Street. This was partly because of Bloomberg's loyalty to his mother, who'd continued living in his childhood home until her death last year at 102.

Adelson has no such ties to Dorchester. This may be explained by the vast demographic and cultural changes in his Erie Street neighborhood since his childhood in the 1930s and '40s. His relatives are also long gone. But while Bloomberg left the Boston area after his childhood, Adelson built his fortune in the Boston area, living here until he was well into middle age. The different approaches, no doubt, reflect different experiences — but also different characters.

Adelson left Dorchester behind.

Bloomberg always kept Medford in mind.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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