Friends, coworkers and New Yorkers who wanted to pay tribute to the former mayor flocked to the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street for the theater's first showing of "Koch," a documentary by Neil Barsky.
The audience at the 1 p.m. showing included Rita Schwartz, who used to work in Koch's administration and recently saw the mayor during his last birthday party, held at Gracie Mansion in December.
"He was frail, but when he stood up to speak he was fabulous," Schwartz said. "He thanked us. He gave us our start."
Schwartz remembered how Koch greeted commuters during the 1980 transit strike.
"I rode my bike over the [Brooklyn Bridge] and there he was yelling, 'How ya' doing?'" she said. "He really was a city guy."
Lisa Diaz, who accompanied Schwartz to the movie and also worked in Koch's administration, said the news of the former mayor's death hit her hard.
"I feel very said," Diaz said. "It's a little bit of a void."
Koch, 88, who served three terms as mayor between 1977 and 1989, helped guide the city through one of its most economically challenging times, but was also criticized for not doing enough to fight the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. He died at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center early Friday morning from congestive heart failure.
Kip Cossan, 52, who lives in Greenwich Village said he decided to see the first showing of the movie after walking past Angelika and seeing that is was playing.
"In the movie you could tell he loved New York," said Cossan, who moved to the city from Austin, Texas in 1986. "I think New York is where it is because of some of the things he did."
Cossan wrote and illustrated a children's book called "Meece for Mayor" and sent a copy to Koch in June. The former mayor responded, saying he liked the book, Cossan said.
Ticket sales were average for the first two shows, but as of early afternoon, the 8 p.m. had already sold 90 tickets and might sell out, an Angelika employee said.
The theater is near Koch's home at 2 Fifth Ave., just above Washington Square Park.
"He always used to come here," said the theater's manager, Anuwer Chowdhury. "He loved the theater."