Soon You Will Take the Koch Bridge to Queens


queensboro-bridgeEdward I. Koch is many things to many people: larger-than-life mayor, cantankerous commentator.Now he will be a bridge.The City Council voted 38-12 today to rename the Queensboro Bridge after Mr. Koch, who led New York from 1977 to 1989 and emerged as one of its most familiar faces. Next month, the city is expected to officially unveil the bridge the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, or E.K.Q.B. for short.

The bridge, which serves as connective tissue between Manhattan and Queens, is a signature of the New York skyline. Its steel frame extends across 59th Street over the East River.

Several Council members cited the bridge’s historic status in arguing against the renaming.

Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. of Queens said the idea had been met with boos and hisses in his district. “This is not about Ed Koch,” he said. “This is all about pride. Pride in our borough, and pride in our bridge.”

“No one would ever think of renaming or co-naming the Brooklyn Bridge,” he added.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bremer of Queens said he received more mail about the bridge than any other topic since he took office last year. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that 64 percent of New Yorkers opposed the idea.

But Speaker Christine C. Quinn said the memorial was appropriate because Mr. Koch helped bring the city back from the brink of bankruptcy.

“He is our city’s biggest champion, its most significant cheerleader, its most unflagging supporter,” Ms. Quinn said.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed renaming the bridge in December as a gift for Mr. Koch’s 86th birthday. Mr. Bloomberg is expected to sign the legislation in the next several weeks.

Mr. Koch was en route to City Hall today afternoon to celebrate the vote.

Few historic figures have a glimpse into how the world will remember them like Mr. Koch. He has picked out a cemetery plot, selected his tombstone and written his epitaph. And now he will have a bridge to call his own.

{CityRoom NY Times/}