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Ed Koch

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Ed Koch

Ed Koch
Koch in August 1988
105th Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1978 – December 31, 1989
Preceded by Abraham Beame
Succeeded by David Dinkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – December 31, 1977
Preceded by Charles Rangel
Succeeded by Bill Green
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th district
In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Theodore Kupferman
Succeeded by John Murphy
Personal details
Born Edward Irving Koch
(1924-12-12)December 12, 1924
The Bronx, New York City
Died February 1, 2013(2013-02-01) (aged 88)
Manhattan, New York City
Political party Democratic
Alma mater City College of New York, CUNY
New York University
Religion Judaism
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Sergeant
Unit 104th Infantry Division

World War II

Edward Irving "Ed" Koch ([1] ; December 12, 1924 – February 1, 2013) was an American lawyer, politician, political commentator, movie critic and reality television arbitrator. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City, which he led from fiscal insolvency to economic boom, from 1978 to 1989.

Koch was a lifelong Democrat who described himself as a "liberal with sanity". The author of an ambitious public housing renewal program in his later years as mayor, he began by cutting spending and taxes and cutting 7,000 from the city payroll after the expansive Lindsay and Beame administrations. As a congressman and after his terms as mayor he was a fervent supporter of the State of Israel. He crossed party lines to endorse

Political offices
Preceded by
Woodward Kingman
Member of the New York City Council
for the 2nd District

Succeeded by
Carol Greitzer
Preceded by
Abraham Beame
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
David Dinkins
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Theodore Kupferman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Murphy
Preceded by
Charles Rangel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Green
Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph Wapner
Judge of the The People's Court
Succeeded by
Jerry Sheindlin
  • Edward I. Koch Collection of La Guardia and Wagner Archives – Koch's mayoral records as well as personal papers and photographs
  • Notable New Yorkers – Edward I. Koch Biography, photographs, and interviews of Ed Koch from the Notable New Yorkers collection of the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University.
  • Ed Koch Threatened with Assassination in 1976 from the National Security Archive (with archival documents)


Biography and works

News collections

  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Ed Koch at the Internet Movie Database
  • Interview with Edward KochVoices on Antisemitism from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • A film clip "The Open Mind – A Winter's Tale – and More (1988)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • The Trust Is Gone Opinion piece by Koch, critical of current administration's relationship with Israel
  • Interview with Ed Koch: On the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riots
  • Interview on YouTube by Leon Charney on The Leon Charney Report
  • Interview – Live in Boca Raton on YouTube by Leon Charney on The Leon Charney Report
  • (full transcript and audio clips)Justice in New York: An Oral HistoryOral history interview with Ed Koch (2008) from

Interviews and media appearances

External links

  • Goodwin, Michael, ed. New York Comes Back: The Mayoralty of Edward I. Koch, powerHouse Books, 2005. ISBN 1-57687-274-2.
  • Harrington, Michael. "When Ed Koch Was Still a Liberal". Dissent (1987): 595–602. online
  • Mollenkopf, John H. A Phoenix in the Ashes: The Rise and Fall of the Koch Coalition in New York city Politics. Princeton University Press, 1994.
  • Newfield, Jack and Barrett, Wayne. City For Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York, London: HarperCollins, 1989. ISBN 0-06-091662-1.
  • Soffer, Jonathan. Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia University Press; 2010) 494 pages.
  • Thompson, J. Phillip. "David Dinkins' victory in New York City: The decline of the Democratic Party organization and the strengthening of black politics." PS: Political Science & Politics (1990) 23#2 pp. 145–148.

Further reading

  • Koch, Edward, and Daniel Paisner. Citizen Koch: an autobiography (St. Martin's Press, 1992).
  • Koch, Ed. The Koch Papers: My Fight Against Anti-Semitism (Macmillan, 2008).

Primary sources

  1. ^ "Koch". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Village Voice, Ed Koch Finally Slays Carmine DeSapio For Good, by Tony Ortega, October 19, 2009, reprint of story by Jack Newfield, September 23, 1965
  12. ^ Bryan Cave, LLP, Partner biography, Ed Koch. Retrieved August 11, 2012
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "That 70's Show", Gotham Gazette, May 9, 2005
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Ehrlich, M. Avrum, The Messiah of Brooklyn: Understanding Lubavitch Hasidim Past and Present, (KTAV Publishing, January 2005) p. 109. ISBN 0-88125-836-9
  22. ^ Michael Tager, "Corruption And Party Machines in New York City," Corruption & Reform (1988) 3#1 pp 25–39
  23. ^ Newfield, Jack & Barrett, Wayne. City For Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York, London: HarperCollins, 1989. ISBN 0-06-091662-1
  24. ^
  25. ^ Dunham, Mary Frances. "Bicycle Blueprint – Fifth, Park and Madison", Transportation Alternatives. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
  26. ^ Yee, Marilynn K. "Ban on Bikes Could Bring More Mopeds", The New York Times, Tuesday, August 25, 1987. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
  27. ^
  28. ^ John Mollenkopf, A Phoenix in the Ashes: The Rise and Fall of the Koch Coalition in New York City Politics (1992)
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Dmitry Borshch, Catalog of American Portraits (CAP), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Ed Koch at the Internet Movie Database
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Seidman, David. "Railing at Rudy," New York Post, May 13, 2007, p. 9.
  43. ^
  44. ^ Smith, Ben. Koch backs Obama, calls Palin 'scary', Politico, September 9, 2008
  45. ^ Koch Outraged By Obama's Treatment of Israel Over Housing Construction, April 1, 2010.
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ Ed Koch Tells Al Sharpton He's 'Back On Board The Bus' With President Obama. Mediaite. October 13, 2012.
  49. ^ Michael M. Grynbaum (February 9, 2013). "An Endorsement Hard to Pass Up, and Harder to Promote". The New York Times.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ Koch, Ed. "I'm Done Defending the Iraq Policy", RealClearPolitics, July 18, 2007
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ Ed Koch Dies: Was Former NYC Mayor Gay? Bess Myerson Campaign Appearances, Richard Nathan Fueled Rumors Of Homosexuality by Howard Koplowitz. International Business Times, February 1, 2013
  57. ^ "Ed Koch's pal, former Miss America Bess Myerson, was a constant at his side." New York Daily News. February 2, 2013
  58. ^ "Bess Myerson Is One Tough Customer" by Susan Berman. New York. November 14, 1977
  59. ^
  60. ^ a b
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ a b c d



See also

  • Koch, Edward I. (1980). The Mandate Millstone. US Conference of Mayors. OCLC 040152378. ASIN B00072XPA8


"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."[63]

"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I'm the sort of person who might give other people ulcers."[63]

(On the occasion of his primary loss to David Dinkins) "The people have spoken...and they must be punished."[63]

A practiced public speaker since his days stumping for Adlai Stevenson, Koch was well known for his quips and one-liners.[63] A few include:


In April 2008, Koch had purchased a burial plot in Trinity Church Cemetery so that he could be buried in Manhattan. It is the only graveyard in the borough accepting new burials. He chose to put the last words of the late journalist Daniel Pearl on his tombstone: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."[62]

His funeral took place on February 4, 2013, at Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Jewish congregation in Manhattan.[60] Because of Koch's fierce loyalty to Israel, the Israeli Consul-General to New York City spoke. The former president, Bill Clinton, also addressed the congregation, serving as President Obama's representative. New York City Police Department helicopters gave a fly-over at the service.[61][60]

He died on February 1, 2013, of heart failure.[59]

Death and funeral

He was frequently accompanied at political functions by his friend Bess Myerson, regarded by some observers as only an effort to defuse rumors of his homosexuality.[56][57][58]

In 1989, Koch was interviewed about a book he had coauthored with Cardinal John J. O'Connor. When the interviewer asked Koch to clarify his views on homosexuality relative to Cardinal O'Connor, Koch responded, "I happen to believe that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's whatever God made you. It happens that I'm a heterosexual."[55]

Koch was a lifelong bachelor, and his sexual orientation became an issue in the 1977 mayoral election with the appearance of placards and posters (disavowed by the Cuomo campaign) with the slogan "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." Koch denounced the attack.[54]

Personal life

On April 8, 2010,[53] Koch wrote a piece in The Jerusalem Post excoriating what he saw as increasing anti-Catholicism in the media, largely made evident by coverage of the priest sex abuse scandals. While denouncing the instances of abuse, Koch, himself Jewish, stated "the procession of articles on the same events are, in my opinion, no longer intended to inform, but simply to castigate." In this article, Koch states that he believes that many in the media, some themselves Catholic, exhibit such anti-Catholicism largely because of their opposition to the Catholic Church's teachings on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and artificial contraception, among others. He stated that, while he himself opposes the Catholic Church's teaching in all these matters, he firmly believed that the Catholic Church had the right to espouse these beliefs, and furthermore to expect its members to espouse them, as well, calling the Roman Catholic Church "a force for good in the world, not evil."

Koch was an early supporter of the Iraq War. In July 2007, Koch wrote that he was "bailing out" of his previous support for that war, due to the failure of the United States' NATO allies, and other Arab countries, to contribute to the war effort. Koch wrote, "I would support our troops remaining in Iraq if our allies were to join us. But they have made it clear they will not." He added that the U.S. must still "prepare for the battles that will take place on American soil by the Islamic forces of terror who are engaged in a war that will be waged by them against Western civilization for at least the next 30 years."[52]

Koch praised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He said that both had the right approach in reducing government spending and refraining from raising taxes.[51]

Koch often wrote in defense of Israel and, also, against anti-Semitism. He was a contributor to Newsmax, a conservative magazine.[50] He also appeared in the documentary FahrenHYPE 9/11 defending President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and blasting Michael Moore. Koch was quoted in the film saying of Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11, "It's not a documentary, it's a lie."

Other political statements

Early in 2013, Koch endorsed Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary for that year's mayoral election.[49]

In October 2012, Koch told Al Sharpton that after a conversation with U.S. President Obama about his position on Israel he was satisfied, and endorsed his reelection.[48]

In 2011, Koch, a lifelong Democrat, endorsed Republican Bob Turner for Congress, because Koch "wanted to send a message to Obama to take a stronger position in support of Israel."[46] Many Jewish voters joined Koch to elect the Roman Catholic Turner, rather than his Jewish Democrat opponent David Weprin, giving Republicans their first win in the NY-9th Congressional seat since the 1920s.[47]

Koch originally endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States during the 2008 presidential campaign,[43] then endorsed Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the general election. In his endorsement of Obama, Koch wrote that he felt that (unlike in 2004) both sets of candidates would do their best to protect both the United States and Israel from terrorist attacks, but that he agreed with much more of Obama's domestic policies, and that the concept of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin ascending to the presidency "would scare me".[44] In 2010 he rescinded his support for Obama, stating a belief that Obama could very well harm American–Israeli relations.[45]

Though Koch supported Giuliani's first mayoral bid, he became opposed to him in January 1996, and began writing a series of columns in the New York Daily News criticizing Giuliani, most frequently accusing him of being authoritarian and insensitive. In 1999, the columns were compiled into the book Giuliani: Nasty Man. He resumed his attacks, and had the book re-published, in 2007, after Giuliani announced his candidacy for President. In May 2007, Koch called Giuliani "a control freak" and said that "he wouldn't meet with people he didn't agree with. That's pretty crazy." He also said that Giuliani "was imbued with the thought that if he was right, it was like a God-given right. That's not what we need in a president."[42]

Koch took back his endorsement of Spitzer in the aftermath of the governor's prostitution scandal. He said, "At the time the prostitution episode emerged, I commented that nothing could explain his behavior other than the fact that he had a screw loose in his head. Probably several."[41]

After leaving office, Koch frequently endorsed prominent Republican candidates, including Eliot Spitzer for governor in the 2006 election. He endorsed Bill Bradley for President in 2000.

Political endorsements

In the summer of 2009, Koch began appearing in weekly movie review segments for a web video show called Mayor at the Movies.[36] The former mayor was an avid moviegoer who often saw two or three movies every weekend. Although he was invited to private screenings, he preferred to see films with a public audience and was often approached by stunned moviegoers who were surprised to find him there. His reviews were regularly outspoken and wry, with his rating system consisting not of stars but of a "plus" (for a good film) or a "minus" for a bad one. He had a particular passion for independent cinema as well as documentaries, although he enjoyed dramas and action films as well. In addition to being showcased on Mayor at the Movies,[36] his film reviews were regularly featured on The Huffington Post[37] and also in the New York newspaper The Villager.[38] In addition to reviewing movies, the Mayor appeared in more than 60 Hollywood films and television shows as himself, including Sex and the City, Spin City, Saturday Night Live, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.[39] A documentary about Koch's life, Koch, had its world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8, 2012, and was released theatrically on February 1, 2013 (coincidentally, the day of Koch's death).[40]

"Mayor at the Movies"

On March 23, 2011, the New York City Council voted to rename the Queensboro Bridge as the "Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge" in honor of the former mayor.[30] Later, city councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens) introduced legislation banning the naming of New York City property after people who are still alive. The legislation subsequently failed.[31] In May 2011 Koch sat for a portrait by Dmitry Borshch which has been exhibited at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, DePaul University, Brecht Forum, CUNY Graduate Center and is included in the Catalog of American Portraits, maintained by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.[32][33][34][35]

In 2004, together with his sister Pat (also Pauline)[5] Koch Thaler, Koch wrote a children's book, Eddie, Harold's Little Brother; the book told the story of Koch's own childhood, when he tried unsuccessfully to emulate his older brother Harold's baseball talents, before realizing that he should instead focus on what he was already good at, which was telling stories and speaking in public.

In the years following his mayoralty, Koch became a partner in the law firm of Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn, and Berman LLP, (now Bryan Cave LLP) and became a commentator on politics, as well reviewing movies and restaurants, for newspapers, radio and television. He also became an adjunct professor at New York University (NYU) and was the judge on The People's Court for two years (1997–1999), following the retirement of Judge Joseph Wapner. In 1999, he was a visiting professor at Brandeis University. Koch regularly appeared on the lecture circuit, and had a highly rated local talk show on WABC radio. He also hosted his own movie review video show on the web called The Mayor at the Movies.[29]

"Koch – Mayor of the City of New York" 2011, ink on paper, 50 x 27 inches, by Dmitry Borshch
Koch and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Conference on Anti-Semitism, held in Berlin, Germany (April 28, 2004)

Post-mayoral years

Journalist John Mollenkopf argues that major American cities have turned to conservative leaders, despite large multi-ethnic liberal coalitions. His explanation is that mayors such as Koch offered well-designed, development-oriented government programs that appealed to the business community and to middle class voters concerned with economic growth.[28]

In 1989, Koch ran for a fourth term as Mayor but lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins, who went on to defeat Rudolph Giuliani in the general election. Koch's criticism of Jesse Jackson during the 1988 presidential race had angered many black voters and was cited as a major reason for his defeat.

It has been said that race relations in Mayor Koch's last years were not good.[27] For one, he became a controversial figure in the 1988 presidential campaign with his public criticism of Democratic candidate Jesse Jackson, who had surprised many political observers by winning key primaries in March and running even with the front runner, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. As the April New York primary approached, Koch reminded voters of Jackson's earlier anti-semitic statements, and said that Jews would be "crazy" to vote for Jackson. Koch endorsed Tennessee Senator Al Gore, who had run well in his native south, but hadn't won 20 percent in a northern state. As Koch's anti-Jackson rhetoric intensified, Gore seemed to shy away from Koch. On primary day, Gore finished a weak third place with 10 percent of the vote and dropped out of the race. Jackson ran ten points behind Dukakis, whose nomination became assured after his New York win.

Edward Koch (1988)

In July 1987, Koch proposed banning bicycling on Fifth, Park and Madison Avenues during weekdays, but many bicyclists protested and had the ban overturned.[25][26]

Shortly afterward Koch suffered a stroke in 1987 while in office, but was able to continue with his duties.[24]

In his third term, Koch's popularity was shaken after a series of corruption scandals, touched off by the Donald Manes suicide and the PVB scandal, which revealed that he had acceded to the requests of political allies, most notably Queens Borough President Manes, Bronx Democratic party official Stanley Friedman, and Brooklyn Democratic boss Meade Esposito, to stack city agencies with patronage appointments. There were no allegations that Koch obtained any financial benefit from the corruption, the wave of scandals undermined Koch's prior claims that he would run a patronage-free city government. Michael Tager attributes the scandals not to Koch's failures but to the steadily declining power of the Democratic machine and the desperate efforts of its bosses to reverse the collapse.[22][23]

Koch consistently demonstrated a fierce love for New York City, which some observers felt he carried to extremes on occasion: In 1984 he had gone on record as opposing the creation of a second telephone area code for the city, claiming that this would divide the city's population; and when the National Football League's New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI in January 1987, he refused to grant a permit for the team to hold their traditional victory parade in the city, quipping famously, "If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie" (the latter being a town in New Jersey adjacent to East Rutherford, site of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where the Giants play their home games).

In 1986, Mayor Koch signed a lesbian and gay rights ordinance for the city after the City Council passed the measure (on March 20), following several failed attempts by that body to approve such legislation. Despite his overall pro-lesbian and pro-gay-rights stance, he nonetheless backed up the New York City Health Department's decision to shut down the city's gay bathhouses in 1985 in response to concerns over the spread of AIDS. The enactment of the measure the following year placed the city in a dilemma, as it apparently meant that the bathhouses would have to be re-opened because many heterosexual "sex clubs" – most notably Plato's Retreat – were in operation in the city at the time, and allowing them to remain open while keeping the bathhouses shuttered would have been a violation of the newly adopted anti-discrimination law. The Health Department, with Koch's approval, reacted by ordering the heterosexual clubs, including Plato's Retreat, to close as well.

In 1985, Koch again ran for re-election, this time on the Democratic and Independent tickets; he defeated Liberal Party candidate Carol Bellamy and Republican candidate Diane McGrath with 78 percent of the vote.[20] During the campaign, Koch came to visit the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seeking his blessing and endorsement.[21]

1985 election and third term

In 1984, Koch published his first memoir, Mayor, which became a best-seller and was later turned into an Off Broadway and later Broadway musical, Mayor.[19]

Koch often deviated from the conventional liberal line, strongly supporting the death penalty and taking a hard line on "quality of life" issues, such as giving police broader powers in dealing with the homeless and favoring (and signing) legislation banning the playing of radios on subways and buses. These positions prompted harsh criticism of him from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and many African-American leaders, particularly the Reverend Al Sharpton.

In 1982, Koch ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, losing the Democratic primary to Mario Cuomo, who was then lieutenant governor. Many say the deciding factor in Koch's loss was an interview with Playboy magazine in which he described the lifestyle of both suburbia and upstate New York as "sterile" and lamented the thought of having to live in "the small town" of Albany as Governor. Koch's remarks are thought to have alienated many voters from outside New York City.

In 1981, he ran for re-election as mayor, running on both the Democratic and Republican Party lines; in November he won, defeating his main opponent, Unity Party candidate Frank J. Barbaro, with 75 percent of the vote.

1981 election and second term; run for Governor

In 1977, Koch ran in the Democratic primary of the New York City mayoral election against incumbent Abe Beame, Bella Abzug and Mario Cuomo, among others. Koch ran to the right of the other candidates, on a "law and order" platform. According to historian Jonathan Mahler, the New York City blackout of 1977 that happened in July, and the subsequent rioting, helped catapult Koch and his message of restoring public safety to front-runner status.[18]

Koch meets President Jimmy Carter for the first time as the Mayor of New York, along with his long-time ally and former opponent in his mayoral bid, Congresswoman Bella Abzug (February 1978).

1977 election and first term

Koch briefly ran for Mayor in 1973, but garnered little support and dropped out before the Democratic primary.[17]

Mayor of New York City

Koch was active in advocating for a greater US role in advancing human rights, within the context of fighting a perceived threat of communism. He had particular influence in the foreign aid budget, as he sat on the FBI for protection, but none was extended.[16]

Koch said he began his political career as "just a plain liberal", with positions including opposing the Vietnam War and marching in the South for civil rights.[13] In April 1973, Koch coined the term "Watergate Seven" when, in response to U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.'s indicating that one of the men in Watergate scandal had been ordered in the spring of 1972 to keep certain senators and representatives under surveillance, posted a sign on the door of his United States Congress office saying, 'These premises were surveilled by the Watergate Seven. Watch yourself'.[14] At about this same time, Koch began his rightward shift towards being a "liberal with sanity" after reviewing the 1973 controversy around then-New York City Mayor John Lindsay's attempt to place a 3,000-person housing project in the middle of a middle-class community in Forest Hills, Queens. Congressman Koch met with residents of the community, most of whom were against the proposal. He was convinced by their arguments, and spoke out against the plan, shocking some of his liberal allies.[15]

Koch was the Democratic US Representative from New York's 17th congressional district from January 3, 1969, until January 3, 1973, when, after a redistricting, he represented New York's 18th congressional district until December 31, 1977, when he resigned to become Mayor of New York City.

Koch served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977.

U.S. Congressman


In 1963, Koch defeated DeSapio for the position of Democratic Party leader for the district which included Greenwich Village, and Koch won again in a 1965 rematch.[11] Koch served on the New York City Council from 1967 to 1969.[12]

He was drafted into the United States Army in 1943,[9] where he served as an infantryman with the 104th Infantry Division, landing in Cherbourg, France, in September 1944. He earned a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, a World War II Victory Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for service in the European Theater of Operations. After V-E Day, because he could speak German, Koch was sent to Bavaria to help remove Nazi public officials from their jobs and find non-Nazis to take their place. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946.[4][10] Koch returned to New York City to attend City College of New York, graduating in 1945, and New York University School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1948. Koch was a sole practitioner from 1949 to 1964, and a partner with Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz & Kovner from 1965 to 1968. A Democrat, he became active in New York City politics as a reformer and opponent of Carmine DeSapio and Tammany Hall. In 1962 Koch ran for office for the first time, unsuccessfully opposing incumbent William Passannante, a DeSapio ally, for the Democratic nomination for the State Assembly.

Koch was born in Crotona Park East section of The Bronx borough of New York City,[4] the son of Yetta (or Joyce,[5] née Silpe) and Louis (Leib) Koch, immigrants from Uscieczko in Eastern Galicia.[6] He came from a family of Conservative Jews who resided in Newark, New Jersey, where his father worked at a theater. As a child, he worked as a hatcheck boy in a Newark dance hall.[7] He graduated from South Side High School in Newark in 1941.[8]

Early life and education


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • U.S. Congressman 2.1
    • Mayor of New York City 2.2
      • 1977 election and first term 2.2.1
      • 1981 election and second term; run for Governor 2.2.2
      • 1985 election and third term 2.2.3
    • Post-mayoral years 2.3
      • "Mayor at the Movies" 2.3.1
    • Political endorsements 2.4
    • Other political statements 2.5
  • Personal life 3
  • Death and funeral 4
  • Witticism 5
  • Works 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Primary sources 8.2
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10
    • Interviews and media appearances 10.1
    • News collections 10.2
    • Biography and works 10.3
    • Archives 10.4

A popular figure, he rode the New York City Subway and stood at street corners greeting passersby with the slogan "How'm I doin'?"[3] His private life was enigmatic, with speculation about his sexuality, which he rebuffed as nobody's business but his own: he had no children, and no publicly acknowledged romantic relationships, but declared his heterosexuality upon his retirement. He won re-election in 1981 with 75 percent, the first 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. His third term was fraught with scandal regarding political associates, although it never touched him personally, and with racial tensions, including the murder of Yusuf Hawkins a month before a fourth primary, which he lost in a close race to New York City's first black mayor, David Dinkins.[2]


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