Edward I. Koch, seen here in a file photo, led the city through difficult days.

NEW YORK CITY-Three-term mayor Edward I. Koch, who died early Friday at age 88, served many roles during his long career in public service. One of those roles during his mayoral term was paving the way for the revitalization and redevelopment of a city that faced bankruptcy a few years before Koch took office.

“At a truly pivotal moment in New York City’s history, we had a choice to save the city or allow it to continue on a path that would have destroyed it,” Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, says in a statement. “That we are still the greatest city on earth is a tribute to Ed Koch’s vision, tenacity and wisdom. None of what has been accomplished since would be possible if he hadn’t been mayor.”

Similar themes were sounded Friday by the man who currently holds Koch’s one-time job, Michael Bloomberg. Calling Koch “an irrepressible icons,” Bloomberg adds, “In elected office and as a private citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader. Through his tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, Ed helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback. We will miss him dearly, but his good works—and his wit and wisdom—will forever be a part of the city he loved so much.”

To Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, Koch will be remembered as “a larger-than-life figure, a man who embodied the fighting spirit of New York and became a worldwide symbol of the city he loved. He helped rescue New York from a threatened bankruptcy, and led the city’s economic and cultural rebirth with a bold, straight-talking style that endeared him to millions.”

The man whose trademark “How’m I doin’?” became a part of the lexicon made an impact on iidnvidual neighborhoods as well as the city as a whole. “Ed Koch was the first great visionary to view Downtown Brooklyn as a viable, thriving commercial center,” recalls Alan Fishman, chair of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Starting with a building for Morgan Stanley on Pierrepont Street, to MetroTech and Atlantic Terminal, every building built in this area since the mid-1980s is a tribute to his vision and legacy.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too, lent his voice to the chorus of public figures who mourned Koch’s passing. “Ed Koch embodied the highest ideals of public service and his life was dedicated toward making New York—the city and our state—a better place for all,” Cuomo says in a statement. From his days on the front lines of World War II, his time in Congress, to his leadership as mayor guiding New York City through difficult years, Ed Koch never strayed from his unwavering commitment to serving others.”