Edward “Ed” Koch, former three-term mayor of New York City, passed away at New York-Presbyterian Hospital at approximately 2 a.m., on Friday, Feb. 1, at the age of 88.
Koch was best remembered for his time as mayor during one the most turbulent times in the city’s history, as well as being credited with restoring the spirit of its residents.
Koch was born in the Bronx in 1924, and spent most of his life in NYC. After serving in WWII, he became a lawyer before entering politics as a Democrat in 1963. Five years later, he was elected to Congress, serving from 1969-1977.
When Koch decided to run for mayor in 1977, he appeared to be looking for trouble. NYC was on the verge of bankruptcy, the Son of Sam killings were going on and blackout that summer led to riots and looting. Nevertheless, Koch prevailed in November of that year to become the 105th mayor, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Governing with the phrase “How’m I doing?” Koch immediately put the city on a fiscal diet, managing to revive it financially by the start of his third term. It was not met without challenges that he had to fight off. One of the most memorable was during the 1980 transit strike. Koch was seen at the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge greeting commuters walking across the bridge.
Actions such as these along with his brash personality granted Koch landslide re-election victories in 1981 and 1985. Unfortunately, his third term was met with controversy. Concerns over the failure to stop the spread of AIDS as well as corruption among Koch’s peers hurt his image. He was also alienated by members of the black community for criticizing Jesse Jackson. When he made a bid for a fourth term in 1989, he was defeated in the Democratic primary by David Dinkins. Despite his loss, Koch was soon regarded as one of the city’s most popular mayors, as indicated by The Wall Street Journal.
Koch did not stop with politics. He was featured four times on Saturday Night Live, served as a judge on “The People’s Court,” was an author, had his own movie review website and was an adjunct professor at New York University. He continued his role in politics after his own stint was over with political endorsements to both Republicans and Democrats, including President George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, according to CNN.
Ed Koch’s funeral was held Monday, Feb. 4, and he was buried at Manhattan’s Trinity Cemetery, as Koch was quoted as having said, “The idea of leaving Manhattan permanently irritates me.”
Information from The Wall Street Journal was used in this article.