What It Takes To Be a New Yorker
Ed Koch was the 105th Mayor of New York City, serving 3 terms, from 1978 to 1989. During his time as Mayor, Koch oversaw the city’s resurgence from a severe recession, helped to develop low-income housing, and created legislation that prohibited discrimination by the government based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing and education, among many other achievements. The author of 8 books, including “Citizen Koch” and “My Fight Against Anti-Semitism,” he hosts a show on Bloomberg Radio, was recently a judge for “The People’s Court,“ and writes columns for a variety of publications. Born in the Bronx, Koch achieved the rank of Sergeant while fighting in World War II, before completing his law degree at NYU. He lives in Manhattan.
Question: What does New York mean to you?
Ed Koch: I am very proud of the fact that I have been on occasion referred to as the quintessential New Yorker. Why? I don't really know, except I do have a sense of humor and self-deprecating and that may undoubtedly contribute to it.
I'm proud of being a New Yorker. I'm one of the few, or I should say less than 50% of the people who live here, who was born here. More than 50% came here. And I always make it a point that you don't have to be born here to be a New Yorker. If you've lived here for six months and you walk faster and talk faster and think faster, you're a New Yorker.
But it is special and I believe that it is special because we have the sons and daughters of every state in the union and they come her to make it, of every independent country in the world come her to make it. And it is that energy, energy that distinguishes us from other places.
Question: Who are your heroes?
Ed Koch: I'm really not someone whose life has been guided by mythical or real heroes, or people that I sought to emulate. We all, who are Mayors of New York City, refer constantly to LaGuardia. Well, he's probably a myth. But we all say we want to come close to LaGuardia because he – it’s a terrific myth.
Question: How often do you go to Chinatown?
Ed Koch: Well, I used to go more often when I was at City Hall; it was only about four or five blocks away. So, now would be less than that. I go probably six times a year, maybe more. And I love Peking Duck.
What's interesting is, after I had my quadruple bypass and got out of the hospital, I lost a lot of weight in the hospital, about 26 pounds. The doctors said, you can eat anything you want, no diet restrictions until you gain back 10 pounds. When you gain back 10, then I'll put you on some restrictions. Well, I still haven't gained back the 10. I'm close to it. And so I can eat anything I want, and I do, I have Peking Duck, and ice cream are two of the items I love the best.
Conventional wisdom says it take 10 years in the city to become a "New Yorker." According to Ed Koch, however, all it takes is 6 months, a quicker mouth and a faster stride.
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