Former New York City mayor and Congressman Ed Koch died early this morning of congestive heart failure after a brief illness.
Koch was an outsize figure in an outsize city where he was Congressman for nine years and mayor for three terms before leaving office in 1989. His “How am I doing” routine with common voters became political legend in a city where those voters weren’t always happy and often told him as much.
Koch lived a busy life after leaving office. He was an author, an actor, and a movie buff and reviewer. He continued to publish op-eds and lobby for candidates for office.
The longtime Democrat took some criticism for his support of the Iraq war a decade ago, part of a lifelong evolution from liberal to conservative.
Koch spoke on WAMC’s Person Place Thing last year, where he discussed his burial plot at Trinity Church Cemetery — one of the last available plots in Manhattan.
"I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to have any pain attached to it," Koch said. "But other than that, I'm not afraid of it at all. It's a part of life."
True to form, Koch could remain in the headlines in the coming weeks; he’s the subject of a new documentary opening tonight. In Manhattan, of course, where people keep crossing the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.