McClatchy News Service
NEW YORK — Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who led the nation’s biggest city for three terms in the 1970s and ’80s, died Friday in a Manhattan hospital.
Koch, 88, died of congestive heart failure at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital, said a spokesman, George Arzt. His death came two days after a documentary about the former mayor, “Koch,” premiered in New York.
Koch had been scheduled to appear at the premiere but a day earlier was admitted to the hospital to be treated for fluid on his lungs and shortness of breath. Koch suffered a stroke while in office in 1987 and in recent months had been hospitalized for a variety of ills.
He was re-admitted last Monday, two days after having been released from an earlier hospitalization, and he died at about 2 a.m. today, Arzt said in a phone interview.
Koch took the helm of New York in 1978, and his enthusiasm for his hometown and fiscal conservatism were credited with lifting the city from the doldrums after its near-bankruptcy in the 1970s and the flight of residents to the suburbs.
He won election to his third term with 78 percent of the vote but lost his fourth bid after alienating many New Yorkers with fierce criticism of then-U.S. presidential candidate Jesse Jackson.
Since leaving office, though, Koch had maintained a high profile in the city, acting as a political pundit and appearing in brief spots in the myriad TV series shot in New York. With each release from the hospital in the past year, Koch was greeted by well-wishers and media as he was rolled in a wheelchair outside and always said he was feeling fine and eager to return to work.
Arzt said Koch’s family had been notified and that the funeral would be held Monday in New York.