Ed Koch, whose highest-profile job as three-term mayor of New York City made him a national figure, died early this morning at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital.
After serving in the Army during WW II, Koch began his political career in 1952 campaigning for Adlai Stevenson who lost the run for president to Dwight Eisenhower. Koch was elected five times to the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning in 1969. During his fifth term, he ran for Mayor of New York City, beating in the primary such Democratic heavyweights as Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and Abe Beame, New York City's first Jewish Mayor (1974-1978). Koch won his first of three mayoral terms in the 1977 general election against three opponents.
Koch's first two terms as mayor were very successful. His feisty personality, blunt talk, and political savvy brought NYC out of bankruptcy and made great strides in cleaning up the City, adding 200,000 housing units and drastically reducing the number of abandoned buildings. The start of his third term was marred by a stunning number of scandals involving key City leaders and the tanking of the stock market in 1987.
After his career as Mayor, Koch immediately launched himself into a dozen new directions. He wrote 17 books, including his 2000 I'm Not Done Yet: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time of My Life. He was a popular talk radio show contributor, a TV and silver screen actor (The Muppets Take Manhattan (2011) and The First Wives Club (1998)), a columnist and critic (film and restaurant) for several print venues, and lecturer.
Due to his failing health, he missed the Tuesday night premiere of Neil Barsky's documentary, Koch.
Mr. Koch, who died of congestive heart failure, was 88.