Politicians, friends and a grandniece and grandnephew spoke at the funeral of former mayor Ed Koch this morning.
The funeral began at 11 a.m., with generations of family members sharing memories at the Temple Emanu-El.
Former president Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among the politicians that heaped praise on the former mayor.
His relatives also spoke movingly about “Uncle Ed,” with his grandniece speaking about writing a paper admiring him for a class project, and his grandnephew recalling when Koch got his first manicure at age 87.
“His photograph still hangs in the salon,” grandnephew Noah Thayer said.
Clinton held up letters he said Koch wrote him when he was president, imploring him about issues like crime.
And Koch's law partner, Jim Gill, joked about when people on the street told Koch to run again for mayor.
“No, the people threw me out, and now the people must be punished,” Koch replied, according to Gill.
Bloomberg appeared to get choked up at times, beginning by saying, “I come today with the love and condolences of 8.4 million New Yorkers who really are grieving with you.”
He added, “Ed, on the other hand, has got to be loving all this attention.” Bloomberg told a story about renaming the 59th Street bridge as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
They shot a promotional video with Koch yelling to people crossing, “Welcome to my bridge!”
“What most people don’t know is, after the cameras stopped rolling, Ed stayed out there in the freezing cold for another 20 minutes yelling,” Bloomberg said.
He lauded Koch’s ability to take on affordable housing while leading the city in arts, culture and equal rights. Bloomberg also spoke about the advice Koch gave.
“He said, ‘Be yourself, say what you believe and don’t worry about what people think,’” Bloomberg said. “And God knows he didn’t worry about it.”
Many spoke about Koch’s love for the city, saying he never wanted to be anywhere else. Once, Bloomberg said, he was asked if there was another place he could see himself.
“The only place I would ever accept is heaven,” Bloomberg recounted him saying. He added, invoking the former mayor's signature question, “It’s not hard to picture Ed getting up to heaven, meeting God and saying to God with a big smile, 'How’d I do?'”
His coffin was carried out to a soft musical rendition of “New York, New York.”