Brooklyn Heights Resident Remembers Ed Koch

Brooklyn Heights resident Rita Schwartz, who worked departments of Aging and Health and Hospitals during the Koch administration, remembers the colorful mayor who died early Friday morning at the age of 88.

Schwartz was interviewed by NYC media outlets at yesterday’s premiere of Koch the documentary by Neil Barsky.

NY Daily News: “He knew every one of us, and what we did… He would take us all out to lunch at Jean Georges or Peking Duck and hear what everybody was doing and what we thought had to be done. Then he would pick up the tab.”

DNAinfo: The audience at the 1 p.m. showing included Rita Schwartz, who used to work in Koch’s administration and recently saw the mayor during his last birthday party, held at Gracie Mansion in December.
“He was frail, but when he stood up to speak he was fabulous,” Schwartz said. “He thanked us. He gave us our start.”
Schwartz remembered how Koch greeted commuters during the 1980 transit strike.
“I rode my bike over the [Brooklyn Bridge] and there he was yelling, ‘How ya’ doing?’” she said. “He really was a city guy.”
Lisa Diaz, who accompanied Schwartz to the movie and also worked in Koch’s administration, said the news of the former mayor’s death hit her hard.
“I feel very said,” Diaz said. “It’s a little bit of a void.”

NY1: Rita Schwartz worked for various city agencies during the Koch years and attended Koch’s birthday celebration in December. On her way to a matinee screening of the film, she described how Koch talked about it at the party.

“Oh, he loved it,” Schwartz said. “Of course he loved it.”

WSJ: Rita Schwartz and friend Lisa Diaz were first intrigued by the documentary when they saw a trailer last year at a birthday celebration for Mr. Koch at Gracie Mansion.

“With the news this morning, it became even more important to see it,” said Ms. Schwartz, who worked in the Koch administration and on some of his campaigns. She and Ms. Diaz, who also worked in the administration, came to an early showing at Angelika Film Center.

“You couldn’t learn better street politics than with Ed Koch, how to talk to people, how to relate to people,” Ms. Schwartz said. “He was a pain. He was rough and he was kind.”

The Brooklyn Ink rounds up other Brooklynite’s reactions to Koch’s passing along with this splendid video:

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  • Andrew Porter

    I remember Koch when he was with the West Village Independent Democrats, who overcame Carmine DiSapio—Carmine the Sap—at the beginning of the 1960s. That was when the VILLAGE VOICE was a new liberal newspaper, out to overturn THE VILLAGER as the voice of a new, liberal Greenwich Village.