Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch Dead at 88

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 1 2013 10:26 AM

RIP, Ed Koch, "the Master Showman of City Hall"

Edward Koch arriving for a State Dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House on March 14, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Edward Koch arriving for a State Dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House on March 14, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died from congestive heart failure overnight at a Manhattan hospital. We'll leave it to the New York papers to eulogize the man.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Edward I. Koch, the master showman of City Hall, who parlayed shrewd political instincts and plenty of chutzpah into three tumultuous terms as mayor of New York with all the tenacity, zest and combativeness that personified his city of golden dreams, died Friday morning ...
Mr. Koch’s 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.
But out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother.
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Allies and even enemies mourned the passing of the scrappy son of the Bronx who fancied himself “Citizen Koch” and is credited with leading the city away from bankruptcy. His other legacies include hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing, landmark campaign finance reform and even a bridge, formerly the Queensboro, that’s now named after him. ...
He continued to write movie and restaurant reviews, pen books, helm radio shows, appear in TV commercials and movie cameos. He even spent two years as the judge on "The People's Court."
He was unpredictable to the end. In 1999, he wrote a book about then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani entitled “Nasty Man.” In 2004, he endorsed Republican George W. Bush for president; four years later, he was back in the Democratic fold, supporting President Obama and other party standardbearers.
George Arzt, Koch's spokesman, said the former mayor lost consciousness soon after entering the ICU. Arzt said he'd always recall Koch's sense of humor. "Most people didn't know how funny he was," said Arzt.
Koch, who had become a movie reviewer after leaving City Hall, responded, "Just don't tell me what the plot is." ...
The larger-than-life Koch, who breezed through the streets of New York flashing his signature thumbs-up sign, won a national reputation with his feisty style. "How'm I doing?" was his trademark question to constituents, although the answer mattered little to Koch. The mayor always thought he was doing wonderfully.

He was 88.

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