Ed Koch, 1980s Big Apple mayor dies at 88

Feb 1, 2013 | News

By Russell Piffer

By Schumacher, Karl H.,White House Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Schumacher, Karl H.,White House Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ed Koch, the bombastic New York City mayor who presided over the city during the turbulent 1980s, died at the age of 88 early Friday morning of congestive heart failure.

Koch served three terms as New York City mayor from 1978 to 1989. He was a polarizing, iconoclastic figure who brought the city back from the brink of economic ruin.

The New York Times called him “the master showman of City Hall” in a report commemorating Koch Friday.

“I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers,” the Times reported Koch said on his inauguration day in 1978. “I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.”

Koch considered his biggest achievement to have come early in his tenor as mayor, in 1980, when he rallied the city while transit workers were on strike, the Associated Press reported.

During the strike. Koch went to the Brooklyn Bridge and yelled encouragement to commuters who were forced to walk the bridge.

““Walk over the bridge! Walk over the bridge! We’re not going to let these bastards bring us to our knees!” he shouted, drawing applause.

In a statement quoted by the Associated Press Friday, Rev. Al Sharpton said, Koch “was never a phony or a hypocrite. He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. He meant what he said. He fought for what he believed. May he rest in peace.”

Although Koch delivered the city out of economic crises, his tenure saw high crime, racial tensions, rising homelessness and the AIDS crisis, Reuters reported.

In 1990, Koch lost the Democratic nomination for mayor to David Dinkins who would succeed him at the helm of America’s largest city.

“People became tired of Koch’s personality,” Mitchell Moss, director of the Urban Research Center at New York University told Reuters. “He was a remarkable mayor but one with a big mouth. After 12 years you have to change the lyrics.”

Koch was born in the Bronx Dec. 12, 1924, the son of Jewish immigrants, Reuters reported. He attended City College and later received a law degree from New York University.

Before ascending to the mayor he sat on city council representing Greenwich Village and served four terms in U.S. congress.

Following his reign as mayor he hosted a radio show, acted as a judge on The People’s Court and wrote an unflattering book about fellow former mayor Rudolph Giuliani called Giuliani: Nasty Man.