Speaking before a crowd of several hundred commuters Friday at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked of two "icons" in city history: the terminal building and Edward I. Koch.
Koch, the feisty former three-term mayor who served between Jan. 1, 1978, and Dec. 31, 1989, died at 2 a.m. Friday. He was 88.
Calling Koch "one of the most important mayors of this city," Bloomberg said: "When we were worried, he told us not to. When we complained, he gave us a kick in the rear. His legacy is all around us."
Bloomberg called Koch "irascible" and said his predecessor "gave people hope for the future. He gave us the belief that New Yorkers will get through it no matter how tough it got ... He was a true New Yorker. He spoke his mind."
Bloomberg also said that, as mayor, he had conversations with Koch, of whom, he said, when giving guidance "did it in a nice way and said what he had to say quietly and alone in a room."
He said that advice was always "genuine."
The mayor said he saw Koch earlier this week and recalled that Koch "looked tired.
"It was the first time he did not have that sparkle," Bloomberg said, later.
Earlier, Bloomberg told the crowd of Koch: "It is a sad day for the city, but his life should be celebrated ... When people come to his funeral they should come and enjoy and celebrate what he did for the city."