His family says Basil Paterson died at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Mount Sinai Hospital, 11 days short of his 88th birthday.
Basil Paterson served as a state senator, deputy New York City mayor and New York's first black secretary of state. His family said he was known throughout the community as a "man of action" who accomplished his goals.
He was among the influential "Gang of Four" that included former Mayor David Dinkins, former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton and Rep. Charles Rangel.
In a statement, Dinkins called Basil Paterson a brilliant mind who counseled generations -- from presidents shop stewards -- in a dignified and incisive manner. He also called him a good friend.
"Basil Paterson was not only the smartest among us, he was one of the most decent human beings and sharpest political minds around," Dinkins said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Basil Paterson's public leadership made New York a better place.
"From his service in the U.S. Army during World War II to breaking barriers to become New York's first African-American Secretary of State, Basil Paterson put his commitment to this State and our nation first. His legacy inspired a new generation of talented public leadership, a legacy his son Governor David Paterson carried on as Governor," Cuomo said in a statement.