Ed Koch, mayor who became a symbol of NYC, dies at 88

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, the combative politician who rescued the city from near-financial ruin during three City Hall terms, has died at age 88.

Spokesman George Arzt says Koch died Friday morning of congestive heart failure.

In City Hall, Koch embodied New York for the rest of the world. He won a national reputation with his feisty style and his trademark question, "How'm I doing?"

During his years as mayor, from 1978 to 1989, his tight fiscal policies pulled the city out of severe financial difficulties. But homelessness and racial tensions soared and critics charged that City Hall's responses were ineffective.

His mark on the city was set in steel when the Queensboro Bridge, connecting Manhattan to Queens, was renamed in Koch's honor in 2011.

Sen. Charles Schumer says Koch lived and breathed New York City with "every atom in his body." Schumer said Friday that the former mayor helped save New York City and gave it confidence when it was beginning to doubt itself. He says New Yorkers were especially proud of Koch because he was so proud of New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Koch was a tireless and fearless crusader for New York City. Bloomberg praised Koch's "tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship." He says Koch "helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback."

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said, â??He was a visionary leader for the people of New York and showed a commitment to helping his constituents. You always knew where Mayor Koch stood on issues; he had a refreshing honesty that brightened any political discussion. He was a leader on public finance issues and helped resurrect New York City after a financial crisis took the City to the brink of collapse. His lifelong intellect, energy, and vigor often led him to outpacing those decades younger. His ebullient presence will be missed."

"No New Yorker has - or likely ever will - voice their love for New York City in such a passionate and outspoken manner than Ed Koch,â?? said Governor Andre Cuomo in a statement. â??New York City would not be the place it is today without Ed Koch's leadership over three terms at City Hall. Mr. Mayor was never one to shy away from taking a stand that he believed was right, no matter what the polls said or what was politically correct.

The Rev. Al Sharpton concedes that he and Koch had some political disagreements, but he said Friday that the former mayor was "never a phony or a hypocrite." Sharpton says Koch fought for what he believed in - and would never deceive you.

Here is a look at some of the famous lines over the years from former New York City Mayor Ed Koch:

-"How'm I doing?"

-"I'm not the type to get ulcers. I give them."

-"You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag."

-"If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist."

-"Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It's sterile. It's nothing. It's wasting your life."

-"Whether I am straight or gay or bisexual is nobody's business but mine."

**On the prospect of living in Albany, during his failed 1982 race for governor:
-"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me."

**After the New York Giants, who play in New Jersey, asked for a permit to hold a parade in the city after winning the Super Bowl in 1987:
-"If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie."

**After losing the 1989 mayoral primary:
-"I was defeated because of longevity, not because Yusuf Hawkins was murdered six weeks before the election, although that was a factor. People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out."

**On the 59th Street Bridge being renamed for him in 2011:
-"It's not soaring, beautiful, handsome, like the George Washington or the Verrazano. It's rugged, it's hard working - and that's me."