As news spread Friday morning of the loss of one of New York's most legendary leaders, Ed Koch—who passed away at age 88 from congestive heart failure—the reactions of members of the Park Slope community were fond and heartfelt.
Eric Mudick, the owner of Eric Shoes on Seventh Avenue, remembered Koch for being the “people’s mayor.”
“Ed Koch was the people’s politician—‘How am I doing?’ he’d ask city residents. He was on the side of the people,” Mudick said. “He wasn’t swayed by the other politicians, he had his own ideas, plans, and was sincere. He was his own person and took the political arena and made it his own. He didn’t just say things to get votes, he was honest about who he was and stood for what he believed in.”
Marie Roldan, who is a jewelry designer and works at Mudick’s store, reflected on how Koch changed the city for the better.
“I lived through Mayor Koch’s three terms and he said what he thought and he had a plan for the city, which was financially broken and fixed it. Crime was out of control, the subways were a mess, and he brought the city back,” Roldan said, who has lived in Brooklyn since 1974. “He took care of business and got the job done. He thought of himself as a ‘liberal bulldog’ and he was.”
Down the street at Good Footing Adventure Martin Boghdadi, who was born in Brooklyn, said we lost a great man today.
“Koch was a true New Yorker. It’s sad he died and we lost our most beloved mayor,” Boghdadi said. “Everyone will miss him, everyone will miss this true New Yorker.”
Fernando Valdez, who works at Tarzian True Value hardware store near Second Street, said that Koch was one of the best.
“He did a lot for New York—there’s a lot of ups and downs in the city, but kept us stable,” Valdez said. “He was our best mayor and will be missed. If you’re lucky enough to live in the city, you know he did a damn good job.”
Alvin Birnbaum, an independent diversion safe distributor, spoke about how Koch was a candid man.
“I remember how he spoke his mind, he was an honest mayor,” Birnbaum told Patch, who has lived in New York for 65 years. “When he took office, New York City was in financial trouble and he did what he had to do to help us get up.”
Gloria Russo, who has lived in Park Slope since 1938, said she remembers a time when Koch came to the Slope.
“I saw him on Seventh Avenue during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I can’t remember which year, but he stopped and shook my hand,” Russo said, who is a real estate agent at Farran & Associates. “Koch was a down-to-earth guy. He said and did things that were on his mind—he wasn’t like the other politicians. He did what he said and held himself to his own word.”
Russo said Koch was a strong man and is saddened by his death.
“He was a hard worker. I remember one time he was walking out of the hospital on a Sunday and told the cameras that he’d be back at work in his office on Monday,” Russo recalled.
David Kaplan, who was walking with some friends near P.S. 321, recalled a time when he happened to be in the same movie theater as Koch 15 years ago during an afternoon film screening at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan.
“He sat in the seat right in front of me during a movie at the Angelika. He’s a tall guy, so I moved over to another seat. But, then he moved again right in front of me,” Kaplan explained, laughing that he now cannot remember what movie they were watching. “After the movie, I caught up with him and said ‘I couldn’t see the movie because you were in front of me, twice.’”
And right before Koch hopped in a car on Houston Street, he turned around and said, “‘Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.’”
Also on Friday, a flurry of elected officials sent out statements, lamenting the candid mayor’s personality.
But, not all Park Slopers shared their condolences in person. The blog, Here’s Park Slope, wrote on Twitter:
“RIP Ed Koch. A true New York original.”
Do you have a memory of former New York City mayor Ed Koch that you'd like to share with us? Write them in the comments section of this article below, or e-mail them to Will.Yakowicz@Patch.com.