The first day of February, a Friday, seemed like every other day as workers rushed to board trains and buses. But as the news about former mayor Ed Koch’s death spread out,, some Brooklynite stopped to share their thoughts about the mayor’s legacy with the The Brooklyn Ink.
Koch died at 2 a.m. just a few hours before Brooklyn Heights filled up with New Yorkers rushing to subways and coffee shops.
“I just heard this on the radio,” said Kim Taras, 45, a graphic designer from Brooklyn Heights on Friday morning as she was buying a children’s book at Barnes and Noble. “It’s sad. It’s like the end of an era for New York.”
Taras said that she looked forward to listening to Koch on her favorite radio station, WNYC. Koch was scheduled to talk about the documentary movie about him that ironically is coming to theaters Friday.
“It’s incredible timing,” Taras said.
For many Brooklynites, Koch was the first mayor they had come to know.
“The one that you grew up with,” said Orlando Rivera, 43, from Bensonhurst.
Rivera who now sells coffee and doughnuts in one of the charts outside Columbus Park used to work on Wall Street where he often saw Koch.
“I can picture him walking on the street in his suit and tie in the summertime,” Rivera said. “There is no other man like him.”
A retired teacher, Margaret Soto, 74, said that her most vivid memory about Koch is his famous line: how am I doing?
“We loved Mayor Koch,” she said. “He was fun. He made the city fun.”
His colorful personality touched many New Yorkers.
“Part of his ability was his character,” said Brooklyn attorney Michael Bartluy, 72. “He knew how to smile at the right time, how to make somebody’s ridiculous question look ridiculous. He wouldn’t offend you without being offensive.”
Native Brooklynite, Vincent Visceqlia, 56, said that he admired Koch because he always spoke his mind.
“He was just real,” Visceqlia said. “He was the best mayor the city ever had. He said what he had to say and was the only guy that cared about New York.”
Brenda Pepper, 74, a retired teacher from Brooklyn Heights, said she was stunned after hearing the news.
“I’m going to miss him,” she said. adding that she saw Koch in the news last night. “He looked awfully fragile.”
She prized Koch for his dedication to the city.
“We went through wonderful times with him as a mayor,” said Brenda Pepper, 74. “But through very hard times for a lot of people.”
Charmen Martinez, 34, who came to Brooklyn Heights from the Bronx to visit the Department of Education, said that she is not into politics and was quite young when Koch was a mayor. However, the vivid character of the mayor was often a conversation topic in her family.
“He is so well known in my home,” Martinez said. “It’s a personal tragedy.”
Most Broolynites in their 20’s stopped for comment Friday morning didn’t remember the times when Koch passed out flyers near subway stations or screamed at rallies. But, of course, they had heard or read about the iconic New Yorker.
“How could you not like Ed Koch?” said Suzanna Clark, a 27-year old Ph.D student of medical anthropology. “He was an overly enthusiastic grandfather.”
Clark said that she learned about Koch and New York in the 1970’s from books, documentaries and newspaper articles.
“Even when he stopped being a mayor he was all over the place, he was like an unofficial mayor,” she said.