Ed Koch, the outspoken, sly-witted “mayor for life” (or three terms) of New York City, died this morning at the age of 88 in New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Koch presided over the city during the heyday of crime, the crack cocaine epidemic, and the AIDS crisis in the late ’70s and ’80s. In 1989 he was unseated by David Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor. “Koch,” a documentary about his mayorship premiered this week at the Museum of Modern Art, but he was unable to attend. [Reuters]
Update: Here are some choice quotes culled by the Atlantic Cities
Koch on “life in the country,” in a 1982 interview with Playboy Magazine that helped doom his chances of becoming governor:
Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It’s sterile. It’s nothing. It’s wasting your life, and people do not wish to waste their lives once they’ve seen New York! … This rural American thing — I’m telling you, it’s a joke.
Koch on sexuality, in New York Magazine in 1998:
Listen, there’s no question that some New Yorkers think I’m gay, and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don’t care, and others don’t think I am. And I don’t give a shit either way! What do I care?
Koch on his own way with words, just before taking office in 1978:
I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.
Koch on his catch phrase “How’m I doin’?” in a 1981 interview with NPR:
Some people have said that’s a mark of insecurity. Gee, I have to be patted on the back. How’m I doing? I want you to think about this: Do you know people in public life who are sufficiently secure to ask people to rate them?