Ed Koch, the three-term mayor known for his larger-than-life personality and penchant for the big and small screen, died during the early morning hours of Friday, February 1 at the age of 88.
Koch, a Democrat, was in and out of the hospital for months due to respiratory problems. He was placed in the intensive care unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital the day before his death. His spokesperson said the official cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Officials from across the city remembered the New York legend with fondness.
“Today we mourn the passing of Mayor Ed Koch, an inimitable New York icon who dedicated his life to the five boroughs and led our city through some very dark days,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “Koch was a man who never backed down from a fight and always did what he felt was right. Today my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues; all of New York City is in mourning today.”
Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said that Koch was the first mayor he ever voted for. “He was a quintessential New Yorker, a clever man and politician, and possessed the chutzpah that truly made him one of the best mayors in this city’s history. Koch was a cheerleader for all neighborhoods,” he said.
Scissura noted that Koch was the one who helped bring MetroTech to fruition.
“The creation of that business and educational center helped spur development across Downtown Brooklyn and the rest of the borough. That will forever remain a legacy of Mayor Koch and for that he will never be forgotten,” he said. “Koch always asked, ‘How am I doing?’ Well, Brooklyn says you did great!”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “Through his tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, Ed helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback. We will miss him dearly, but his good works – and his wit and wisdom – will forever be a part of the city he loved so much.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz noted, “Although he was born in the Bronx and raised in Newark, Mayor Koch lived with his family in Brooklyn as a young man, and I have no doubt it’s where he got the Brooklyn attitude, swagger and “chutzpah” that made him such a character and helped him navigate New York City through some of its most challenging times.”
Councilmember Jumaane Williams said, “He will be remembered as a real and charismatic person, a man who said what he meant and led with conviction. I honor his service to our country as a sergeant in the United States Army and his work on issues like campaign finance and economic growth. While I actively disagreed with him on a number of issues, he had a deep love for New York City.”
Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries commented that Koch “saved the city from bankruptcy, led us through a crippling transit strike and engineered the development of thousands of units of affordable housing that have benefited generations of working families in some of our toughest neighborhoods.”
From across the aisle, Ed Cox, chair of the New York State Republican Party, stated, “Ed Koch personified New York City: he was animated; he wasn’t afraid to use his trademark humor and wit to resolve a problem; he was fair and balanced in his approach to government and politics, crossing the aisle to endorse Republicans when he felt it was best for the city or country.”
Koch’s legacy will live on through the 59th Street Bridge, which was renamed in his honor in 2010. A documentary on his life, “Koch,” just debuted at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this week.
A funeral service will be held at the Temple Emanu-El on the Upper West Side on Monday, February 4 at 11 a.m.