Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City

Paperback | January 31, 2012

byJonathan Soffer

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In 1978, Ed Koch assumed control of a city plagued by filth, crime, bankruptcy, and racial tensions. By the end of his mayoral run in 1989 and despite the Wall Street crash of 1987, his administration had begun rebuilding neighborhoods and infrastructure. Unlike many American cities, Koch's New York was growing, not shrinking. Gentrification brought new businesses to neglected corners and converted low-end rental housing to coops and condos. Nevertheless, not all the changes were positive?AIDS, crime, homelessness, and violent racial conflict increased, marking a time of great, if somewhat uneven, transition.

For better or worse, Koch's efforts convinced many New Yorkers to embrace a new political order subsidizing business, particularly finance, insurance, and real estate, and privatizing public space. Each phase of the city's recovery required a difficult choice between moneyed interests and social services, forcing Koch to be both a moderate and a pragmatist as he tried to mitigate growing economic inequality. Throughout, Koch's rough rhetoric (attacking his opponents as "crazy," "wackos," and "radicals") prompted charges of being racially divisive. The first book to recast Koch's legacy through personal and mayoral papers, authorized interviews, and oral histories, this volume plots a history of New York City through two rarely studied yet crucial decades: the bankruptcy of the 1970s and the recovery and crash of the 1980s.

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In 1978, Ed Koch assumed control of a city plagued by filth, crime, bankruptcy, and racial tensions. By the end of his mayoral run in 1989 and despite the Wall Street crash of 1987, his administration had begun rebuilding neighborhoods and infrastructure. Unlike many American cities, Koch's New York was growing, not shrinking. Gentrif...

Jonathan Soffer is associate professor of history at New York University's Polytechnic Institute.

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Hardcover|May 1 1998

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:January 31, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231150334

ISBN - 13:9780231150330

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Introduction2. Struggling to Be Middle Class: Ed Koch's Early Life 3. It Takes a Village (1949-58) 4. "Rhymes with Notch" (1959-64)5. The Man Who Beat Carmine De Sapio 6. A Rebel with Reason7. Koch's Corridor (1969-76)8. "A Liberal with Sanity": Koch as the Anti-Bella9. New York: Divided and Broke (1973-77)10. The 1977 Mayoral Election11. The Critical First Term (1978-81)12. The Politics of Race and Party13. Shake-up (1979-80)14. Controlled Fusion: Or, to Koch or Not to Koch (1980-81)15. Governor Koch? (1982-83)16. Larger Than Life (1984-85)17. A New Spatial Order: Gentrification, the Parks, Times Square18. Homelessness19. The Koch Housing Plan (1986-89)20. AIDS21. Crime and Police Issues (1978-84)22. The Ward Years: Police, Crime, and Police Crimes (1984-89)23. Don't Follow County Leaders, and Watch Your Parking Meters (1986)24. Koch's Endgame (1988-89)25. EpilogueConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

In his evenhanded treatment of the confrontational and controversial mayor, Soffer endorses the liberal indictment and fully acknowledges Koch's shortcomings. At the same time, however, the author presents a compelling brief for Koch that underscores the desperate condition of New York City in the late 1970s and argues convincingly for the mayor's decision to employ draconian measures.