Ed Koch
By Laura Hill

Ed Koch’s New York City: the Ramones, Studio 54, and the infamous 17-day garbage strike of 1981. For many Natives, Ed Koch was the Mayor who defined our collective childhood, having been in office from 1978 to 1989.

Born in the Bronx, raised in Newark, NJ, Koch was no blue blood. He served in the infantry during WWII and went to City College on his return. Ascending from his humble beginnings, Koch won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1977 after which he was elected to three terms as Mayor in the city of his birth.

As is the story with so many cultural phenomena, what was once the terrain of the common man became rarified spectacle for the well healed. And so the story goes with the documentary film Koch by Neil Barsky. From the description:

“The quintessential New Yorker. Still ferocious, charismatic, and hilariously blunt, the now 88-year-old Koch ruled New York from 1978 to 1989—a down-and-dirty decade of grit, graffiti, near-bankruptcy and rampant crime. First-time filmmaker (and former Wall Street Journal reporter) Neil Barsky has crafted an intimate and revealing portrait of this intensely private man, his legacy as a political titan, and the town he helped transform. The tumult of his three terms included a fiercely competitive 1977 election; an infamous 1980 transit strike; the burgeoning AIDS epidemic; landmark housing renewal initiatives; and an irreparable municipal corruption scandal. Through candid interviews and rare archival footage, Koch thrillingly chronicles the personal and political toll of running the world’s most wondrous city in a time of upheaval and reinvention.”

In the spirit of the high cultural crossroads that is New York, Koch made its debut at the very highbrow Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8, 2012, and will soon open at MoMA.

For some fantastic images of the Koch years in NYC, check out “’80s New York – The Koch Years” on Pinterest.