NEW YORK—Former Mayor Ed Koch died early Friday morning, according to the Associated Press citing spokesperson George Artz. Koch was 88.
The time period he was mayor, from 1978 through 1989, was the beginning of the city’s climb out of serious crime, though corruption remained, especially in Koch’s last of three terms.
Later in life Koch became involved in the arts, writing a children’s book and critiquing films. In 2011, the City Council voted to rename the Queensboro Bridge the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement that the city has lost “our most charismatic cheerleader and champion.”
“Through his tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, Ed helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback,” Bloomberg said. “We will miss him dearly, but his good works—and his wit and wisdom—will forever be a part of the city he loved so much.”
Flags on all city buildings will fly half-staff in Koch’s memory.
Koch had an illustrious life. After running for a fourth term for mayor but losing, he became a partner in a law firm, and an adjunct professor at New York University. He also lectured at a range of venues.
In late 2011 Koch talked to fourth and fifth graders in the East Village, promoting walking and bicycling through his children’s book, “Eddie Shapes Up,” an autobiographical tale of a chubby young man who gets in shape through healthy eating and exercise.
Koch will be buried at Trinity Church Cemetery in northern Manhattan, after purchasing a burial plot for $20,000 in the only active graveyard in the borough accepting new burials, according to AP.
Inscribed on his memorial stone will be the Star of David and the last words of journalist Daniel Pearl before he was murdered in 2002: “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish,” according to the report.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also has a favorable view of Koch, commending him after the council voted in March 2011 to name the bridge after him.
“Ed Koch was the bridge that brought New York City back from the brink of bankruptcy to financial solvency, and many New Yorkers feel very close to him for that reason,” said Quinn in a statement after the vote. “The City Council is proud to pay tribute to Mayor Koch and his decades of public service with this timeless honor.”
A new documentary about Koch, named “Koch,” recently opened at independent theaters in New York.