Ed Koch, Former New York Mayor, Dies At 88

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch died on Friday at the age of 88. Koch served as mayor from 1978 until 1989 and was known for his wry and outspoken attitude.

He was forceful and quick-witted and became a polarizing figure in the city’s history. Koch was also known for his trademark phrase, “How’m I Doing?”

Reuters reports that the former mayor passed away around 2 am from congestive heart failure at New York-Presbyterian hospital. His last year was filled with health issues including multiple trips to the hospital, according to his spokesman.

Koch was also known for helping New York City get through an economic crisis that almost bankrupted it. He helped the city rise to a level of prosperity that was the envy of others.

Koch’s three terms in office weren’t all prosperity, however. Racial tensions and corruption marked his term in office along with the rise in AIDS, HIV, homelessness, and a high crime rate.

The former New York City mayor was recently readmitted to the hospital with water in his lungs, notes ABC News. Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement about Ed Koch’s death, saying:

“He was a great mayor, a great man, and a great friend. In elected office and as a private citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader … we will miss him dearly.”

Koch, always outspoken, once described himself by saying:

“I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I am the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.”

Mayor Bloomberg ordered all flags to fly at half staff in mourning for Ed Koch’s death.

[Image via Flickr photographer Boss Tweed (Flickr photo) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]