Edward I. Koch, the outspoken three- term New York mayor who led the biggest U.S. city from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1970s and boosted the spirits of crime-weary residents, has died. He was 88.
Bloomberg reports that Koch died today at 2 a.m. of heart failure at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital, spokesman George Arzt said. Koch had been moved into intensive care yesterday afternoon. The funeral will be held on February 4th at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.
On January 28th, Koch had returned to the hospital two days after being released following a week-long stay to treat water in his lungs and legs, the Associated Press reported. Koch also was hospitalized in December for pneumonia and flu and three months earlier for anemia.
Serving from 1978 through 1989, Koch presided over the Wall Street-fueled economic boom of the 1980s, turning a $1bn budget deficit into a $500m surplus in five years. He restored the city’s credit, doubled the annual budget to $26bn and oversaw $19bn in capital improvements. His subsidized housing plan produced more than 156,000 new and renovated units.
Koch’s in-your-face style, straight talk and catchphrase 'How’m I doing ?' endeared him to New Yorkers wracked by the lingering fiscal crisis, the Son of Sam serial killings and the arson and looting that erupted after a blackout in July 1977.
Commuters walking across the Brooklyn Bridge during the first day of an 11-day transit strike in 1980 were startled to find the bald, 6-foot-1-inch mayor cheering for them. He called critics 'wackos', welfare advocates 'poverty pimps', told visiting Soviet schoolchildren that their government was 'the pits' and said a crack-smoking lawyer accused of killing his daughter should be 'boiled in oil'.
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