|Ed Koch in the 1970s--credit|
Ed Koch will be remembered as one of the most influential New Yorkers in the city's history. Not only did he balance the budget during his 12-year tenure as mayor, but he brought New York back to life during a dark time in the 1980s when it was a much less desirable place to live and visit.
I remember when I rode the bus with Koch several years back. We stood side by side on the M104 until he exited somewhere in the 80s on Broadway. I was starstruck, as if I'd seen Al Pacino or some other legendary actor, and not a former NYC mayor. I wanted to reach out and say something --- anything. But what could I say? "You're Ed Koch. Thanks for saving the city 30 years ago?!"
I doubt that it would've mattered what I said --- more than likely he would've responded with something clever and funny as he often did. It's no secret that Koch loved interacting with people including the media, and he didn't hesitate to answer questions or make comments. I couldn't decide if I was more shocked from standing next to such a well-known public figure, or from the fact that he was riding the bus. I didn't say a word and I regret it to this day.
Koch wasn't just any mayor. Though honestly, I have no recollection of his actual years in office (even though I spent quite a bit of time in New York during the '80s, I was a young teenager), I do know that he was outspoken and even opinionated at times, and his legacy will reach far beyond his living years. Many feel that without Koch, our city wouldn't be what it is today. More than 20 years beyond his years in office, Koch was still looked upon as the quintessential New Yorker --- tough, bold and shameless in his style and attitude.
As we say our final goodbyes today, we'll remember a noble man with wit, strength and character. Love him or hate him, no one can deny how much he loved this city. When Ed Koch passed a few days ago, a small part of New York went along with him.
|Koch at a reading of his children's book, Eddie Shapes Up--by nystreets via Flickr|
Ed Koch said it best.
"In a neighborhood, as in life, a clean bandage is much, much better than a raw or festering wound."
"If you don't like the President, it costs you 90 bucks to fly to Washington to picket. If you don't like the Governor, it costs you 60 bucks to fly to Albany to picket. If you don't like me, 90 cents."
"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."
"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me."
"At age 88, I wake up every morning and say to myself, 'Well, I'm still in New York. Thank you, God.'"