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Ed Koch's Quotes Live On Though the Larger-Than-Life NYC Mayor is Gone

By Michael Mullins   |   Friday, 01 Feb 2013 10:38 AM

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, known for his larger-than-life personality and memorable quotes, died Friday morning from congestive heart failure. He was 88.

Koch, who began his political career in 1969 as a congressman for New York's 17th District, went on to become NYC mayor from 1978 to 1979 and is credited with rescuing the city from economic collapse.

In the late 1970's, New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. The city was facing a financial crisis due to its debt, caused in large part by generous union contracts and a weak national economy. The crisis gave way to high crime and other social problems that in turn caused millions of New Yorkers to leave the city for the surrounding boroughs.

Following his decades-long political career, which ended in 1989 after losing to former Mayor David Dinkins, Koch became a political commenter for newspapers, radio stations, and television news networks and a New York University adjunct professor. He was also a judge on The People's Court in the late 1990s.

Two years ago, the New York City Council renamed the Queensboro Bridge, which connects Manhattan and Queens, to the "Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge" in his honor.

He was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 28, complaining of shortness of breath and fluid in his lungs. It was the fourth time he was hospitalized in the past six months. Koch died three days later in intensive care.

In a documentary about the celebrated mayor released earlier this month, he addressed his worsening health.

"My brain is good, but my body is deteriorating," he said. "I probably have another two or three years. Or I can pass tomorrow, but it doesn't make a difference to me."

Throughout his political career, Koch's outspoken ways gave the nickname "quintessential New Yorker." He was known for asking residents, "Hey! How'm I doing?"

Here are some of Koch's most memorable quotes:

• Ed Koch on political campaigning: "I'm not the type to get ulcers... I give them."
• Ed Koch on NYC and the rest of the country: "There was always a love-hate relationship with New York in the rest of the country, but I made them feel more love than hate."
• Ed Koch on self-respect: "You punch me, I punch back... I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag."
• Ed Koch on dieting: "The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth - something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food - just watch it, don't eat it."
• Ed Koch on liberal New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman: "(He's) a pompous a**."
• Ed Koch on former Vice President Al Gore: "I don’t happen to like Al Gore."
• Ed Koch on former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani: "a good mayor . . . a very charming guy . . . (but) he’s a little crazy."
• Ed Koch on New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo: "(He's) a schmuck."

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