Ed Koch, the Bronx-born former mayor of New York City passed away early Friday morning at the age of 88.
An outspoken and a strong-willed figure during his three terms as mayor of New York, Koch was known for, among other things, his catchphrase: “How am I doin’?”—which he would ask of nearly any resident he met on the street. He presided over a period of financial growth, but one also marked by racial tensions. corruption, homelessness, and a high crime rate.
A man with immense pride in his city, Koch ran an unsuccessful campaign for New York Governor that was doomed by a Playboy interview in which he slammed suburban and rural living.
Years later, his negative comments about Reverend Jesse Jackson in the 1988 New York Democratic primary for president helped to end his tenure as mayor, after angered African-American voters in the city turned on him and helped elect David Dinkins, the city’s first African-American mayor.
During his three terms in office, Koch often went head to head with Reverend Al Sharpton, who was first arrested leading a sit-in over youth jobs at City Hall during Koch’s first year in office.
Years later, Sharpton and Koch joined forces to work around the nation on a campaign to give non-violent drug offenders a second chance in life.
“He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. He meant what he said. He fought for what he believed. May he rest in peace,” Sharpton said in a statement Friday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called Koch, “a great mayor, a great man, and a great friend,” Friday, ordered that City Hall flags fly at half-staff in his honor.
Bloomberg echoed the sentiments of the New York Times, which wrote “Mr. Koch is survived by New York itself,” in an obituary Friday, in saying his absence will be felt across the city.
“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,” Bloomberg said. “His spirit will live on not only here at City Hall, and not only on the bridge that bears his name, but all across the five boroughs.”
Koch died in the wee hours of the morning on the same day a documentary about his life was due for its New York release. Funeral services for the former mayor will be held Monday.
Watch the trailer for Koch below.