Friday, April 18, 2014

Follow us:
Follow @NY1 on Twitter Subscribe to this news feed 

News

End Of An Era

Ed Koch, Former Three-Term Mayor, Dead At 88

  • Text size: + -
TWC News: End Of An Era

Ed Koch, Former Three-Term Mayor, Dead At 88
Play now

Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.

  To view our videos, you need to
enable JavaScript. Learn how.
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.

Then come back here and refresh the page.

New Yorkers across the five boroughs are remembering the life of Ed Koch, the scrappy former mayor who led New York City through some of its darkest days in the late 1970s and 1980s, after he died early Friday morning at the age of 88.

The former three-term mayor passed away at 2 a.m. Friday from congestive heart failure, a spokesman said.

His funeral will be held Monday at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

NY1 will carry the funeral live starting at 10 a.m.

Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Koch a "civic savior" and said he will be remembered as one of the greatest mayors in the city's history.

"When we were down, Ed Koch picked us up. When we were worried, he gave us confidence. When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them. And if you remember, he enjoyed it," Bloomberg said.

President Barack Obama also called Koch "an extraordinary mayor" adding, "In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse."

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed their sadness as well.

"He was a man whose convictions ran deep. You knew where Ed stood on any topic, and whether or not you agreed with him or what he said, you couldn't help but like him," the Clintons said in a statement. "He fought for those without a voice because he knew the plight of the voiceless. He used all the tools at his disposal to pull New York out of one of its darkest times."

Koch, who had been in and out of the hospital in recent weeks, was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital on Monday with fluid in his lungs. He was moved into the hospital's intensive care unit on Thursday afternoon after suffering from shortness of breath.

A similar problem landed him in the hospital for a week last month.

As of late Thursday, reports said he was conscious and not on a respirator.

Koch had long been open about his health problems. He suffered a stroke while in his third term as mayor, and had a number of health issues after leaving office in 1989, including a heart attack in 2000 and major heart surgery in 2009. Nevertheless, he continued to exercise regularly into his late 80s.

The city's 105th mayor maintained a positive outlook until the end. After leaving the hospital last Saturday, he sounded eager to return to work.

"I'm delighted to go home," he said. "There is nothing like home. I expect that I'll be in the office in the beginning of the week."

Former Mayors David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani, whose terms as mayor directly followed Koch's three terms, shared their memories of Koch with NY1 Friday.

Dinkins ended Ed Koch's political career when he defeated him in the 1989 Democratic primary for mayor, but almost 25 years later, Dinkins said Koch made tough decisions that benefitted all New Yorkers.

"Among other things, he should always get credit for having the vision, the wisdom to recognize the import of paying off our debt," Dinkins said. "He not only paid it off, he paid it off early. Everybody remembers the headlines in the Daily News, "Ford To City: Drop Dead". But we did get the loan. The federal government guaranteed it. He did a great job. And that was not easily done."

Despite their contentious relationship, Giuliani said Koch remained relevant after leaving office, and he said he learned a lot from him.

"I had a press conference every day, because Ed Koch did, and I thought the city expected it," Giuliani said. "And if anything had happened of any significance, any kind of emergency or tragedy or whatever, I made sure I got there, to show the mayor was leading, the mayor was out front. I learned that from Ed Koch. I remember his walking people over the Brooklyn Bridge to break a strike. He was right out front, and any time anything would happen in the city, he was right there."

Koch, a native of the Bronx, was elected to City Council in 1967 and served in the U.S. Congress from 1969-1977, representing Manhattan's East Side.

He was initially a longshot candidate when he first ran for mayor in 1977, but political strategist David Garth helped him craft his public image and produced campaign ads that showcased Koch's sharp sense of humor and introduced him to New York City voters.

He was elected mayor in 1977 and easily won re-election in 1981 and 1985, becoming at the time only the third three-term mayor in the city's history.

"He was New York. His personality was New York," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "He was bigger than life. He was in your face. He was an ethnic. He was not here to blend in. He was an individual and be who he was but he also believed in community and the fabric of society and the collective and being together. He was sassy, he was funny and he was inspirational."

Feisty and combative, Koch would often engage passers-by with his signature salutation, "How'm I doing?" His aggressive fiscal policies helped pull the city from the brink of financial ruin in the late 1970s, but critics say homelessness and AIDS went unchecked under his watch in the 1980s, and his administration was ensnared in a number of corruption scandals.

Ed Koch's relationship with the city's African-American community was tumultuous and often contentious. Many black leaders gave Koch poor marks for his response to racial violence in Howard Beach in 1986, and for his response to the Yousef Hawkins shooting just before the 1989 Democratic primary.

Despite this, several prominent African-American leaders expressed their respect for Koch upon hearing of his death.

"The city has lost someone who symbolized what was all good and bad about the city, and who was the essential New Yorker, with his bombast, with his candor, with his showmanship, and with conflicting opinions," said Rev. Al Sharpton. "I think that there will not be another Ed Koch."

"I never doubted his depth of sincerity for equality," said Rep. Charles Rangel of Manhattan. "Three times, he had gone to the South. Three times, he had endangered his life for civil rights."

In later years, Koch practiced law and wrote several books. At the time of his death, he was a commentator for NY1's "Road To City Hall" political program.

Former New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who appeared weekly with Koch as a fellow NY1 Wiseguy, said Friday that he has lost a great friend. D'Amato said Koch was willing to work with people on both sides of the aisle, and that he fought hard for New York City.

"It just wasn't power. He loved being mayor. It was about service," D'Amato said. "He was fearless when it came to doing what he thought was right when the care of New York was at stake. We've lost a great New Yorker."

Lawyers, judges and police officers remembered former Koch Friday not only as a mayor who had to deal with tough economic times, but as a mayor who had to deal with difficult crime issues as well.

"It was a difficult time, a challenging time for the department," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, whose NYPD career began in 1963. "We had significant drug issues in the city, and we had tactical narcotics teams and efforts to shut it down on the Lower East Side in particular and Alphabet City. The mayor was very supportive of that."

Koch relied heavily on support from party bosses across the city, but in the mid-1980s, some of those bosses became embroiled in a pay-to-play corruption scandal that eventually rocked City Hall.

Koch was never suspected of any wrongdoing, but a Bronx boss was convicted and Queens boss Donald Manes committed suicide in 1986 while under investigation. Manes was also Queens borough president at the time, and Claire Shulman was his deputy.

"It was a very depressing, sad moment in the mayor's life," Shulman said Friday. "It was his watch. And it was certainly a sad moment in my life."

Shulman, who became Queens borough president after Manes' death, said that while the incident may have stained Koch's legacy, it didn't tarnish it.

"Both he and I, and the people around us, survived," she said.

One of the city's grandest landmarks survives to this day in part because Koch fought to help it keep it alive, and the former mayor was remembered there Friday as Grand Central Terminal celebrated its centennial.

"In the lead-up to this great celebration, there was a photograph in one of the daily newspapers of Ed Koch, member of Congress, with Caroline Kennedy's mother, Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, leading the charge, leading the fight to save this great terminal," said Robert Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

A lifelong bachelor, Koch's sexuality became an issue during the 1977 mayoral election when placards appeared with the slogan, "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." Koch himself would rebuff all questions about his sexuality over the course of his life.

Reflecting on his time as mayor in a 2004 interview with NY1, Koch said he was proud not only of helping the city through a fiscal crisis, but of reviving its self-image.

"I gave the people of New York City back their spirit," he told NY1's Budd Mishkin. "They were so ashamed of being New Yorkers because we were beggars and asking for so much help. I gave them back their spirit, their feistiness."

Koch was recognized by the city in 2011 when the Queensboro 59th Street Bridge was renamed in his honor.

His life and legacy was also the inspiration of the new documentary "Koch", which opened in theaters Friday.

Plans call for Koch to be buried in Manhattan's non-denominational Trinity Cemetery in a plot that he purchased for himself in 2008.

"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone," Koch said at the time. "This is my home."

The former mayor planned out much of his funeral, including having his headstone engraved with the last words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was killed by Islamic Terrorists in 2002.

It reads "My Father is Jewish, My mother is Jewish, I am Jewish".

In a previous interview with the New York Times, Koch said he already recruited a rabbi for the funeral and gave his sister the names of potential speakers.

He said he hoped a lot of people would show up at the cemetery, adding it was a convenient location near the subway.

Politicians React To Former Mayor's Death


TWC News: End Of An Era

Ed Koch, Former Three-Term Mayor, Dead At 88
Play now

Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.

  To view our videos, you need to
enable JavaScript. Learn how.
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.

Then come back here and refresh the page.


TWC News: End Of An Era

Ed Koch, Former Three-Term Mayor, Dead At 88
Play now

Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.

  To view our videos, you need to
enable JavaScript. Learn how.
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.

Then come back here and refresh the page.


TWC News: End Of An Era

Ed Koch, Former Three-Term Mayor, Dead At 88
Play now

Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.

  To view our videos, you need to
enable JavaScript. Learn how.
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.

Then come back here and refresh the page.

Related Stories

10.11.12.247 ClientIP: 54.196.196.72, 165.254.42.71 UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 (http://commoncrawl.org/faq/) Profile: TWCSAMLSP