He was not the Big Apple’s first Jewish mayor…..that was his predecessor Abraham Beame (1974-1977). Although he rescued the city financially,in my opinion he fell short of being the best mayor. That praise is shared by La Guardia and Rudi Giuliani. Koch was the most colorful, brash, gutsy, original and spunky mayor. He was the last of his kind….a diehard Democrat who was also conservative jousting like Don Quixote at political correctness.  He was always feisty and combative, but my best memory of him actually comes from my son.

In 1990 Koch gave a speech at Harvard Law School (Incidentally…that was while President Obama was there…but I don’t know if he attended). After his talk he took questions from the audience. One young lady raised her hand and before she could ask her question….he blurted out (I paraphrase based on my son’s recollection) “Oh I remember you. You accosted me before in New York. Sit down!” Next he was asked about legalizing drugs and he evoked the “Singapore solution”….life in jail. Best was his answer to a question about terrorist suspects being held in a 60 square feet room. His answer: ” They should hold 60 suspects in one square foot. Next question!”

For almost twenty years I have had the privilege of being invited four times a year to a small and private breakfast which Ed Koch never missed. He was often crass, insulting and combative. At the last breakfast he showed me a children’s book he had just written. He had many better angels. May they guard his rest.

N.B. the best way to Queens is the bridge from Second Avenue and 59th St. in New York City. It is now the Edward I. Koch Bridge.


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