New Yorkers react to Ed Koch’s death: He may well have saved New York City

Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-01 18:48:31-05

New Yorkers are reflecting on Ed Koch’s years in office.

They began in 1977, a time when the city had street cred before anyone ever realized what it was. Its character sprayed on by street Picassos, its pulsating soundtrack a Ramones LP. The city was dark, gritty and untamable to its core.

This was the New York that Ed Koch took over.

“The city was rough. There was lot of muggings and a lot of hand guns and high crime and the Upper West Side was not elegant,” said Delta Willis, just a few blocks from where Koch lived.

The times were not only contentious on the streets, but also in politics.

Gerard Cortinez remembers Koch’s booming voice going silent on a polarizing issue impacting the mayor’s neighborhood around Washington Square Park.

“As a gay man I feel that he was probably slow coming into the reality of the things that needed to be done. The right things to be done.”

Watch the video for more reaction