In 1981, when Ed Koch was mayor, President Barack Obama moved to New York City to study at Columbia University. Today, Mr. Obama joined New Yorkers in mourning Mr. Koch’s death.
“Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people.”
Former Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Andrew Cuomo have a long and colorful history, stretching all the way back to Mr. Koch’s initial mayoral election against Mario Cuomo, the current governor’s father, in a hotly-contested, occasionally bitter 1977 race that Mr. Koch ultimately won. Although Mr. Koch continued to tweak the younger Cuomo for years after–calling him a “schmuck” in his latest documentary, for example–the two became political allies on a number of issues during Mr. Cuomo’s political career and governorship. Earlier today, Mr. Cuomo described his final words with the late Mr. Koch and the inspiration he received from them.
“I talked to the mayor two days ago. He’s in the hospital. …. I said to him, ‘Mister Mayor, how are you feeling?’ [He replied,] ‘Stronger every day. Stronger every day.'” Mr. Cuomo recalled in a radio interview with New York Post columnist Fred Dicker. “To me, that’s the essence of Ed Koch. Stronger every day. Tomorrow’s going to be better. Optimism. Look forward. Don’t look back. You think the situation is bleak? Nah, we’re going to conquer. We’re going to win. We’re going to be better. Stronger every day. Now, he had to know where he was, right? ‘Stronger every day.’ How beautiful is that?”
At 2 a.m. this morning, former Mayor Ed Koch passed away due to congestive heart failure. He was 88, outspoken, and if you listen to some of New York City’s leading political figures, “an irrepressible icon,” “larger than life” and “part of the fabric of New York.”
“I’m expressing my condolences on behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, and I know so many of them will be keeping Mayor Koch and his family and friends in their thoughts prayers,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in a statement. “As we mourn Mayor Koch’s passing, the flags at all City buildings will be flying at half-staff in his memory.”