Former mayor Ed Koch died of congestive heart failure late last night at the age of 88. Mayor Koch was the mayor when I was really young, and I don't remember much about his time as mayor. I do, however, remember the man's persona. He was a New Yorker, for all that it implies. Unabashed, unashamed love of the city. An air of kindness with a little edge of... well, New York. It's an undefinable quantity, and one that I always admired. The man was worldly, likely from his time serving in World War II, as well as local, due to being a Bronx product.
The city at the time Mayor Koch presided was much different than it is now. It was a grittier city in the 80s, defined by the excess on Wall Street on one end, and the crack-cocaine epidemic in the inner-city on the other. It was a dirtier, more abrasive city, but it was also more real. That city, that time, is what earned New York it's enduring reputation as being a take-no-shit city, as opposed to this barely recognizable, extremely overpriced tourist destination. The old New York is a city that people could afford and live in, and that city is one i would never have left.
Mr. Mayor, rest in Peace.