Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City from 1978-1989, died early this morning at 88 years of age. According to his spokesman, Koch died of congestive heart failure after being admitted to the New York Presbyterian Hospital intensive care unit Thursday morning and losing consciousness.
Koch was known for his greeting, “How’m I doin’?” to constituents and his sense of humor. Before his three terms as mayor, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969-1977. A New York City native born Dec. 12, 1924, he graduated from the City College of New York in 1945 and New York University School of Law in 1948. Koch spent time practicing law as a sole practitioner and with a partner before his terms in Congress.
Many did not believe Koch would be elected mayor because he was considered ultra-liberal and obscure. Koch’s campaign slogan was, “After eight years of charisma and four years of the clubhouse, why not try competence?” which resonated with enough New Yorkers to allow his win.
Koch was reelected twice, winning 75 percent and 78 percent of the vote, respectively. He is one of three New York City mayors to serve three terms, alongside Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Wagner. Koch was defeated by David Dinkins in 1989.
During his terms, Koch was credited with fixing the city’s financial crises. However, he had to contend with issues of racial tensions, corruption among political allies, an increase in cases of HIV and AIDS, homelessness and a high crime rate.
Koch once said he wanted to be mayor for life. He said he lost because voters got tired of him.
After his terms, Koch spent time as the host of a radio show, a newspaper columnist, an actor and the judge for two years on “The People’s Court.”
Koch remained a bachelor his entire life and was often questioned about his sexuality.
He told New York magazine, “Listen, there’s no question that some New Yorkers think I’m gay and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don’t care, and others don’t think I am. And I don’t give a (expletive) either way.”
Koch’s funeral is scheduled for Monday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered for flags to be flown at half-mast, and said in a statement, “In elected office and as a private citizen, he was out most tireless, fearless and guileless civic crusader. 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.”