Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City died around 2 a.m. on Friday at New York Presbyterian Medical Center. The three-term mayor who served from 1978-1989 was admitted to the intensive care unit on Thursday, under advisement of his cardiologist, his spokesperson told CNN, and had been in and out of the hospital for the past few months. Sources told NY1 this morning that Koch had died of congestive heart failure. Koch was admitted to the hospital on Monday and was moved to intensive care after the buildup of fluid in his lungs and legs, reports the AP. He had initially been admitted on January 19.
After serving in the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977, the Bronx-born Edward Irving Koch was elected as Mayor of New York City in 1977. Koch was best known for his "How'm I doing?" signature catchphrase, and was one of the most well-loved mayors (and ex-mayors) in the city's history—his popularity peaking during a transit strike in 1980 where the iconic image of him walking down the Brooklyn Bridge and yelling at people to walk to work was made.
"You punch me, I punch back," Koch once said. "I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag." The mayor had gotten into verbal spars with Donald Trump and mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Politically, Koch's third term as mayor was marred by a corruption scandal, and though he was a champion of gay rights, author and activist Larry Kramer believed Koch did not do enough to aggressively address the AIDS epidemic which he believes was due to Koch's fear of coming out. Koch was a lifelong bachelor, and as the AP notes his common response to questions about his sexuality was:
"My answer to questions on this subject is simply, 'F--- off.'
In 2011, the New York City Council voted to rename the Queensboro Bridge in his honor, and a new documentary about Koch and his career premiered this week at the Museum of Modern Art, and opens in more local theaters today.
"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone," Koch once told The Associated Press. "This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me."
NYC has lost an irrepressible icon and our most charismatic cheerleader. @mayoredkoch was a great mayor, a great man, and a great friend.— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 1, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.