Edward Koch was the former NYC mayor from 1978 to 1989 and held the position for three terms. During that time period, he helped rescue a city that was near-financial ruin as well as having to deal with a high crime rate, racial tensions, homelessness, corruption involving several of his political allies and the rise of HIV and AIDS.
However, he was the embodiment of New York chutzpah for the rest of the world to see and personified the city with his outspoken and wry style. Unfortunately, the former NYC mayor who was known to greet his constituents with a “How’m I doin’?” has passed away on Friday at 88-years-old, according to his spokesman.
George Arzt, Koch’s spokesman, said that following a year of being in and out of the hospital, Koch felt very tired Thursday morning and was taken to New York Presbyterian hospital. He was admitted into the intensive care unit and lost consciousness later that afternoon. His death was said to be as a result of congestive heart failure that happened at roughly 2 a.m. Friday morning.
Koch was given credit for taking New York out from its’ economic crisis to the point of prosperity that other U.S. cities envied. The city was able to undergo a building renaissance as well as maintain a financial footing under his leadership. Pretentious and paunchy, bald and bombastic, Koch was known not only for being quick with a kind quip but also in being equally fast with a remark towards his political enemies.
He once memorably observed that, “You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it’s good for one’s self-respect to be a punching bag.” Had his reputation not taken a hit due to his association with some political allies involved with corruption, he might have acquired a fourth term in office. Instead, he lost the Democratic nomination in 1989 and his bid for another term.
According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, flags at all city buildings would fly at only half-staff in honor of Koch’s memory. In regards to Koch, the mayor said, “In elected office and as a private citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader. His spirit will live on not only here at City Hall, and not only on the bridge the bears his name, but all across the five boroughs.”
Koch was known for having a quip no matter what the occasion was and even said he wanted to be mayor for life. His bestselling autobiography was turned into an off-Broadway musical and is the only U.S. mayor to accomplish this. A documentary about his three terms as mayor, called “Koch,” premiered this week at the Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately, Koch was not able to make the premier.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is hoping to become the next mayor of the city, attended the premier of the movie and said, “I don’t think there was anybody who had more fun being mayor as Ed Koch.” The film is set to open in theaters on Friday.
Despite all that he accomplished while in office, his reputation with voters became damaged when his ally in Queens Borough President Donald Manes became involved in a corruption scandal. Though Koch was not implicated by Manes, the damage was done and lost his party’s nomination to Manhattan borough President David Dinkins, who would end up being the city’s first black mayor.
Mitchell Moss, the director of the Urban Research Center at New York University, speculated on why Koch did not win a fourth term in office. “People became tired of Koch’s personality. He was a remarkable mayor but one with a big mouth. After 12 years you have to change the lyrics.”
Upon leaving office, Koch kept busy with writing articles on all sorts of topics from movie reviews to Middle East politics, served as a judge on the popular television show “The People’s Court” and was a host on a radio show. He also wrote a book about another famous former NYC mayor, Rudy Giuliani, which was titled “Giuliani: Nasty Man.”
Up to his death, he stayed as a formidable figure in regards to New York politics by offering political commentary on a local NY1 TV station and endorsing candidates. He was known for his support of New York’s present mayor and in 2010, was able to form New York Uprising. This political action committees purpose is to fight corruption with regards to state politics.
In a 2005 discussion of Koch’s legacy, New York writer Pete Hamill said, “Here was a mayor who was a combination of a Lindy’s waiter, a Coney Island barker, a Catskill comedian, an irritated school principal and an eccentric uncle.
He talked tough and the reason was, he was tough.” Koch announced three years later that he decided to secure a plot in Manhattan’s Trinity Cemetery. He told the New York Times: “The idea of leaving Manhattan permanently irritates me.”
Ed Koch, Mayor Who Became a Symbol of NYC, Dies
Former Mayor Ed Koch, the combative, acid-tongued politician who rescued the city from near-financial ruin during a three-term City Hall run in which he embodied New York chutzpah for the rest of the world, died Friday. He was 88.
Ed Koch Dead: Former New York City Mayor on Life and Career
In an interview conducted in 2007, Former Mayor Edward I. Koch reflected on his life and political career, and talked of how he would like to be remembered.