Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino smiles as he is acknowledged at the Boston College Chief Executives' Club of Boston luncheon, Dec. 5, 2013. Reuters/Dominick Reuter

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino died Thursday at the age of 71. The city's longest-serving mayor, Menino has been battling cancer since being diagnosed with the disease in March.

Menino's death, which a spokeswoman confirmed to the Boston Globe Thursday morning, came less than a week after he suspended treatment for cancer at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he had been hospitalized since Oct. 16, CBS Boston reported. He began receiving chemotherapy at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in early March.

"The City of Boston lost a great fighter today. Mayor Tom Menino used his big heart, his strong voice, and his fierce determination to shape every corner of the city," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in a statement. "Bruce and I send our prayers to Mayor Menino's wife Angela, to his family, and to all Bostonians. Our mayor is gone, but he lives on in every neighborhood in Boston."

Known as "The Urban Mechanic" because of his obsessive dedication to fixing potholes and other neighborhood infrastructure problems, Menino became mayor in 1993 and held the office until Jan. 6 of this year. The city's first Italian-American mayor, Menino became the face of the city, presiding over a period of tremendous growth in Boston, as well as the dark days after last year's Boston Marathon bombing, during which his thick Boston-accented voice served as a soothing and strong presence.

Menino served as a city councillor for nine years before becoming mayor, a role that he filled for 20 years. A beloved, though sometimes controversial icon of Boston, he sailed to landslide victories in most of his mayoral elections but was diagnosed with advanced cancer shortly after he left the office.

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Deval talked to Menino at the time of his announcement that he was suspending treatment. “He sounded himself, but a little weaker. Obviously my wife and I are praying for him and his family,” he said, according to WHDH 7 Boston.

After assuming the city's top post in 1993, Menino spoke of his goals for the office. “I want to help people, help one individual a day. Just to make their life a little bit better,” he said, according to the Globe. But he left a far greater mark on the city than that, presiding over the reshaping of its skyline, a period of rapid development and the ushering of Boston into the 21st century.