Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Ed Bridge

You read that right. Believe it or not, the city has decided to name something after a mayor not named LaGuardia -- in this case, a bridge bearing the name of Mayor Edward I Koch (1978-1989). 

And which bridge will be forced to shed its identity for this new moniker? The victim is none other than the Queensboro bridge itself -- that gorgeous, amazing 101-year old structure spanning the East River, nailing together Long Island City and the Upper East Side, immortalized in The Great Gatsby, the movies Manhattan and Terms of Endearment, and by Simon and Garfunkel (in "The 59th Street Bridge" song). 

As Ed Koch himself might have said, I think naming this wonderful bridge after this repulsive man is "OUTRAGEOUS!" 

I hardly ever use foul language on here but, if this name change goes through, it should be dubbed "Monument to an Asshole" or perhaps "Monument to New York's Most Corrupt Mayor Since Jimmy Walker."
You heard that right. The Ed Koch administration was so corrupt that several people in his administration went to jail and a Queens borough president committed suicide. It even spawned a book by the great journalists Wayne Barrett and Jack Newfield, City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York. When I was a kid in the 1980s, my parents used to listen to a news program on WQXR called "New York At 6." Ed Koch's administration was so corrupt that almost every night there was some sleazy revelation of corruption that old Ed always claimed to no nothing about. Eventually my parents started calling "New York At 6", "Who's Indicted Tonight?"

During Ed Koch's reign, the homeless population in the city surged, the squeeze on the middle class began, developers started building huge buildings with apartments no one could afford, and the AIDS crises began -- a crises that Ed Koch, himself a closeted homosexual, totally ignored. 
Not a really good legacy. The best thing Koch did as mayor was balance the budget in his first term. After that, his remaining two terms, it was all downhill -- or, when it came to crime, it was up and up. By the time Ed left office in 1989 (thrown out by the voters), the crime rate had spiked way the hell back up ... and for some reason, then and now, it was and is blamed on his successor David Dinkins. It was Dinkins who then dramatically expanded the size of the police force and was responsible for historic plunge in NYC's crime rate. Sadly, when it comes to history and the city's collective memory, its Dinkins who gets all the blame for the rising crime rate, not Koch, and its Rudy Giuliani who gets all the credit reducing crime when it was already falling under Dinkins.

So why don't we name the bridge after Dinkins? 

Do you think the fact that Dinkins is black is the reason he gets no credit for reducing crime? "Oh no, of course not," most people will say. (Sort of like a current black president who gets no credit for fixing the economic mess left to him by his white predecessor).
It's amazing to see, when it comes to Ed Koch, how the historical slate has been wiped clean. You never hear about the historic corruption in his administration, about the rising crime rate, about how the middle class in this city began its long, sad decline. Instead, when you hear about Ed Koch today, it's all about what a great "personality" he is, how "lively" he is, and how he saved NYC from fiscal disaster. 

It's all a bunch of crap. It was Governor Hugh Carey who saved this city. And, to be fair, Hugh Carey is getting his due -- they're going to name the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel after him.

This just isn't right. A tunnel vs. a bridge. Which would you rather have named after you?

By the way, it's a total political payoff by Bloomberg to name the bridge after Koch, who supported the billionaire's three elections. Disgusting. Pathetic. And business as usual.

I hope to God the city council votes down this name change but you know they won't. After all, they all gave themselves an extra term -- there's no depth they won't sink to. 

So farewell beautiful bridge that connects two great boroughs. Your spirit will remain but sadly your identity will be gutted. Ed Koch deserves this city's contempt, not reverence.
When it comes to renaming the Queensboro bridge, Mr NYC is not feeling groovy.

1 comment:

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