How’d He Do? A Wonky New Bio Makes the Case That We Live in Ed Koch’s New York

A few years after he left Gracie Mansion, Ed Koch ran into gay-rights activist and playwright Larry Kramer in the lobby of their apartment building on Washington Square. Mr. Kramer had famously been a harsh critic of what he believed was Mr. Koch's slow response to the AIDS crisis, satirizing him as closeted and craven in his 1985 play The Normal Heart, about the syndrome then baffling doctors, and confronting the indifference of public health officials like those in Mr. Koch's administration. Hundreds of New Yorkers dead or dying from a terrifying new disease and the mayor couldn't give less than a damn, according to Mr. Kramer.

For Mr. Koch, though, it was bygones.

"He was trying to pet my dog Molly and he started to tell me how beautiful it was," Mr. Kramer once told The New Yorker of the incident, recounted in N.Y.U. Polytechnic historian Jonathan Soffer's Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City. "I yanked her away so hard she yelped, and I said, 'Molly, you can't talk to him. That is the man who killed all of Daddy's friends.'" 

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