Former Mayor of New York Ed Koch died this morning of congestive heart failure at the age of 88. Mayor Koch is best known as the mayor who pulled New York City out of financial disaster and rampant crime in the late 1970s and 1980s.
His most famous quote was: "How am I doing?" He first said this when he was a New York congressman -- and he was taken aback at how effective that question was at drawing people into real engagement with him. Everyone loves to tell a politician "how they're doing" -- whether it's good news or bad. Ed Koch had a sharp, witty tongue. You can learn a lot about the kind of mayor and person he was from his words. Here are 13 of his most memorable quotes.
1. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That's how I get my kicks.
2. I'm not the type to get ulcers. I give them.
3. I know many writers who first dictate passages, then polish what they have dictated. I speak, then I polish -- occasionally I do windows.
4. The knife of corruption endangered the life of New York City. The scalpel of the law is making us well again.
5. The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth -- something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food -- just watch it, don't eat it.
6. The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.
7. When all are wrong, everyone is right.
8. You don't have to love them. You just have to respect their rights.
9. The art of creation is older than the art of killing.
10. In action be primitive; in foresight, a strategist.
11. There was always a love-hate relationship with New York in the rest of the country, but I made them feel more love than hate.
12. I said, to be a New Yorker you have to live here for six months, and if at the end of the six months you find you walk faster, talk faster, think faster, you're a New Yorker.
13. The Republicans are coming -- make nice.
--Written in collaboration with Jeanne Sager.
Did you know who Ed Koch is?
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr