(Reuters) - Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, an iconic and often polarizing figure, died on Friday at the age of 88.
The brash, quick-witted Koch, known for his trademark phrase “How‘m I Doin?,” served three terms as mayor, leaving office in 1989 only to emerge as a columnist, movie reviewer, pitchman and television judge.
Here are some of the remembrances offered by New York figures:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“Most of us are too young to remember, but the city was in real trouble, the city was falling apart, people were moving out, the infrastructure was crumbling, crime was off the charts and nobody had any confidence. And Ed came in and, in three terms, really gave people hope for the future. You can talk about his policies that changed things, made them better. But the real thing that he did was to give us all a belief that New York was New York and, no matter how tough it was, we’d get through it.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
“No New Yorker has - or likely ever will - voice their love for New York City in such a passionate and outspoken manner than Ed Koch. New York City would not be the place it is today without Ed Koch’s leadership over three terms at City Hall. Mr. Mayor was never one to shy away from taking a stand that he believed was right, no matter what the polls said or what was politically correct.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network
“Throughout his twelve years of being Mayor I was one of his most vociferous critics. In fact, my first arrest was leading a sit-in on him about summer jobs for youth in 1978. We later united and worked together around the country in a national campaign for non-violent drug offenders to give them a second chance in life and we ended up getting to know and understand each other. Although we argued about everything from my marching in Bensonhurst, to Florida and Trayvon Martin, and although we disagreed on politics from his views on President Obama to other matters, I have found that he was never a phony or a hypocrite. 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.”
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
“It is with great sadness that I mourn the passing of the inimitable Ed Koch. Born and educated in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants, a staunch supporter of Israel, Ed was a man I respected and a friend I treasured.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
“As a young priest living in Saint Louis and Washington, D.C. during the 1980‘s, New York meant two things to me: John Cardinal O‘Connor and Mayor Ed Koch. These two men showed how, despite some deep philosophical disagreements, they could not only work together for the good of the City of New York, but could become close personal friends.”
Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio
“When Ed Koch said ‘How‘m I doing?’ it was both a boast and an act of humility. That simple phrase captured the fact that he was deeply connected to everyday New Yorkers. And that connection fueled his urgency and his greatness. He helped bring us out of the fiscal crisis, he helped bring the South Bronx back, he helped give us hope again-all because it was personal for him. He simply wouldn’t let New York City fail. Like many, I often disagreed with Ed. But I also got to know and learn from this great man, with a heart and mind as big as the city he loved. Ed Koch is gone now, but his energy and inspiration can never be forgotten by those of us lucky enough to have known him.”
Reporting By Edith Honan; editing by Andrew Hay