In The News

Tributes are paid to former New York mayor Ed Koch

Tributes are paid to former New York mayor Ed Koch

TRIBUTES have been paid to the former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, who has passed away. He was 88.

Mr. Koch was first elected as mayor in 1978 at a time when New York was facing one of its darkest periods. The city was in financial meltdown and the situation was looking very grim.

But Mr. Koch, who was a lawyer and a former member of Congress, was very soon regarded as having the skills that would turn things around. He was a brash, opinionated New Yorker who many of his fellow citizens could easily relate to. He regarded himself as being a man of the people — on the day he was first sworn in as mayor he had travelled to City Hall by bus.

He never shied away from getting out on the streets to meet the people, calling out: “How’m I doin’?”, which soon became his trademark question.

His hard work paid off and he was eventually credited with having guided the city from the brink of bankruptcy and restoring its “swagger”.

Mr. Koch went on to serve three terms before finally being defeated at the polls.

Only two subjects were ever off-limits for the man who was always at home in front of cameras — his military service and his sexuality. He had served as an  infantryman during the Second World War and is known to have been awarded two battle stars, but he never spoke of his experiences in battle. The lifelong bachelor had faced many questions over his sexuality, but he always insisted it was no one’s business.

After his 12 years in office, Mr. Koch never held public office again, but he always remained in the public eye.

He wrote or co-authored 17 books, including a number of autobiographies and a series of mystery novels in which he was the detective.

The many tributes were led by President Obama who said Mr. Koch had been “an extraordinary mayor, an irrepressible character and a quintessential New Yorker”.

The current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said his friend had been the city’s “most charismatic cheerleader and champion”.

Several years ago, Mr. Koch had announced he had planned his funeral. Among his instructions is that an organist should play New York, New York as his remains are removed from city’s Temple Emanu-El synagogue.

To view an interview given by Mr. Koch to the New York Times, click here.

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