Ed Koch Dies; Former New York Mayor Served His City for Decades

Eccentric Personality Fit the City He Served

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Former New York Mayor Ed Koch died early Friday morning of congestive heart failure following a year of repeated hospitalizations. Reuters reports he was 88. Koch was credited with lifting his city out of economic stagnation and into a new golden era of financial prosperity. Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered flags at all city buildings to be flown at half-staff in Koch's memory. The iconic figure of New York's modern politics was larger than life, much like the city itself.

* Koch served three terms as mayor from 1978 to 1989, a total of 12 years. Koch lost a bid for a record fourth term when he lost his party's nomination to Manhattan borough president David Dinkins. The political rival rose to become New York's first African American mayor.

* Bloomberg reveals the outspoken mayor turned a $1 billion budget shortfall into a $500 million surplus in the span of just five years. He doubled the city budget to $26 billion and created 156,000 subsidized housing units.

* Koch's signature phrase was "How'm I doing?" The unusual mayor was a man of the people who joined a throng of commuters walking across the Brooklyn Bridge during a transit strike in 1980. He used words such as "wackos" to describe his critics and "poverty pimps" when talking about welfare advocates.

* In addition to New York's mayor, Koch was elected to Congress for five terms from 1969 until his resignation Dec. 31, 1977. Before his stint in Congress, Koch was the district leader of Greenwich Village and served on the New York City Council.

* After leaving public office, the eccentric mayor didn't leave the public spotlight. Koch wrote articles on varied topics and penned movie reviews. He even served as a judge on "The People's Court" on television. Koch wrote a book about Rudy Giuliani entitled "Giuliani: Nasty Man."

* Koch was born to Polish Jew immigrants in the Bronx on Dec. 12, 1924, according to the New York Times . He was the second of three children. Koch served his country as an infantryman during World War II from 1943 to 1946, leaving the military with the rank of sergeant.

* The former mayor was a Democrat who won against seven opponents in the city's primary in 1977. When elected to his final term, Koch won with more than 70 percent of the vote over his Republican rival.

* Koch never married and fought rumors he was gay. He even had former beauty queen Bess Myerson at his side during campaign events. The 6-foot-1 man eventually said his sexual orientation was "nobody's business but mine," according to the Times.

* The Queensboro Bridge was renamed in Koch's honor in 2012. He missed the premiere of a new documentary film due to his most recent illness.

* The funeral for the late politician is set for Monday. Koch even joked about his death after he bought a burial plot in Trinity Cemetery overlooking the Hudson River. NPR reveals the late mayor didn't "want to leave Manhattan -- even when I'm gone."

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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