Edward I. Koch served as Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, following terms as Greenwich Village’s Congressman, City Councilmember, and Democratic District leader. Koch, a self-described “liberal with sanity”, passed away four years ago today, following several decades living at 2 5th Avenue. Koch previously lived at 81 Bedford Street, 72 Barrow Street, and 14 Washington Place. Early in his career as Democratic District leader, Koch endeared himself to Village constituents with his strong opposition to “police brutality, air pollution, sidewalk narrowing, the bulldozer approach to urban renewal, the invasion of the Village by New York University, and the invasion of downtown by the Lower Manhattan Expressway.”
In 1966 the Village Voice noted“Some of his friends believe he has an almost disastrous tendency — in politics — to say what he thinks and to make himself almost too clear. He is aware of this tendency — and he is even amused at it — but he never curbs it; he just hopes for the best.” (read the March 24, 1966 Village Voice Article about Koch’s early positions and his announcement of his run for City Council HERE).
Koch was typically either loved or hated throughout his years as mayor. He helped guide NYC out of its fiscal crisis of the 1970’s and he reorganized the city’s political environment by assembling a governing coalition that at times included liberals, conservatives, and moderates. Koch received 75% of the vote in his first reelection in 1981, the first and only New York City mayor to win endorsement on both the Democratic and Republican party tickets. He won his second re-election with 78 percent of the vote. However, his relationship with the city’s African-American community, which was never great, took a turn for the worse in the later years of the 1980’s, and was partially the cause of 1989 primary loss. Much of his early base of Greenwich Village liberals were dismayed by what they considered his poor reaction to the AIDS crisis, and in later years many were further troubled by his cross-party endorsements of Rudy Giuliani for mayor in 1993, Michael Bloomberg in 2001, and President George W. Bush in 2004. Koch claimed his politics never shifted that much, stating in a Sun interview “I have always been much more moderate than my supporters”. He was staunchly pro-Israel throughout his career, making him many friends and enemies along the way. Read more about Koch’s tumultuous relationship with the Village here.
Even into his late 80’s Koch was a prolific Tweeter, sharing his wisdom 140 characters at a time. Some notable ones include “If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist”, “You don’t have to love them. You just have to respect their rights”, and “At age 88, I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.’”