Being mayor of New York City comes with a lot of responsibilities, challenges and a great deal of stress.
However, this high-profile job does come with some pleasant perks, too. One of the privileges of being mayor of the city that never sleeps is that you get to reside in a historic mansion in the very heart of Manhattan — also known as Gracie Mansion.
Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New York City
The Archibald Gracie Mansion, better known as Gracie Mansion, is the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York, and it has held on to that title since 1942.
It is located in Carl Schurz Park at East End Avenue and 88th Street in Yorkville, overlooking the Hell Gate channel in the East River.
The site has a long history; it originally housed merchant Jacob Walton’s Belview Mansion, and was commandeered by George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.
The property was an excellent strategic outpost, given its location overlooking Hell Gate, where the East River, the Harlem River, and the Long Island Sound intersect.
Belview Mansion was unfortunately destroyed by the British during the war, but the location was too good to sit vacant for too long.
In 1799, a businessman/career U.S. army officer by the name of Archibald Gracie constructed Gracie Mansion on the same site and used it as his country home up until 1823.
Gracie Mansion throughout the years
In 1896, Gracie Mansion was seized by the municipal government and integrated within the grounds of Carl Schurz Park. It housed the Museum of the City of New York from 1924 until 1936, and after that, it was shown as a historical house.
Then came 1942, when the U.S. was fighting in World War II. New York developer Robert Moses suggested to Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia to turn Gracie Mansion into a mayoral residence.
Moses thought that the waterfront location would be an advantage in case of a Nazi attack, offering a quick evacuation option for the NYC mayor. La Guardia agreed, and so he became the first in a long line of NYC mayors to reside at Gracie Mansion during his term.
Nobody is sure who the architect was at Gracie Mansion. The two-story Federal-style design is attributed to either Ezra Weeks or John McComb Jr., who designed the New York City Hall and Hamilton Grange.
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Other sources report Archibald Gracie came up with the design of the property himself.
Did you know that Alexander Hamilton died at Gracie Mansion?
Fun fact: Gracie Mansion hosted a historic meeting of the New York Federalists, including Alexander Hamilton, held in 1801 with the goal of raising $10,000 to start a newspaper. That newspaper was called the New York Evening Post, which eventually became the New York Post we know today.
Alexander Hamilton made his last visit to the mansion in July 1804, after being wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr, his political rival at the time.
The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, and Hamilton was shot by Burr and was then transported to Gracie Mansion, where he met his end.
The original fireplace by which Hamilton died has been carefully preserved and can still be admired at Gracie Mansion.
Who lives at Gracie Mansion now?
Gracie Mansion is to be used solely for official city business, and only visiting public officials and family members of the mayor can reside at the property.
The long list of NYC mayors who called Gracie Mansion home over the years includes William O’Dwyer, Robert F. Wagner, John V. Lindsay, Edward Koch, Rudolph Giuliani, and Bill de Blasio. Current NYC mayor Eric Adams and his family reside at the mansion.
Michael Bloomberg was the first Mayor of the City of New York to refuse to stay in the mansion for the duration of his term. Instead, he used it for meetings and official events, and invested in a major restoration effort to bring the property to modern standards.
Restoring the iconic mansion to its former glory
Gracie Mansion underwent a number of changes throughout its long history. In 1966, a new west wing was completed, and that was when the fireplace from the Bayard home, where Alexander Hamilton died, was installed in the ballroom.
The library and the main two floors of the mansion have been impeccably preserved. The mantel and dentil molding in the library have been there since the construction of the house in 1799.
Numerous prestigious guests have attended events or visited the mansion over the decades, including Leonard Bernstein, who once played the historic piano in the yellow room, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, and even the Dalai Lama.
The mansion is a New York City Landmark and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
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The Gracie Mansion Conservancy
In 1981, Mayor Edward I. Koch and his charter Board Chair, Joan K. Davidson established the Gracie Mansion Conservancy.
The private not-for-profit organization was created to preserve, maintain, and promote Gracie Mansion, and to raise funds to restore and upkeep the historic structure. The Conservancy is constantly working on improving the mansion, acquiring furnishings, caring for the surrounding gardens and grounds, and educating the public.
Under the guidance of the Conservancy, the first major restoration took place between 1981 and 1984. Since then, the historic mansion has been upgraded, repaired, and restored several times throughout the years, with all efforts overseen by the Conservancy.
Gracie Mansion was carefully restored and redecorated in 2002 during Michael Bloomberg’s mandate – even though he was the first NYC mayor who did not live there.
It was the first time that the family quarter on the second floor opened to the public, and the entire structure was redesigned to be fit for official meetings and events. The entire effort cost $7 million and was one of the most significant restorations undertaken at the historic estate.
Former mayor Bill de Blasio also made efforts to improve and enhance Gracie Mansion, and his focus was on bringing the historic mansion into the 21st Century.
Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, enlisted the help of Brooklyn-based company West Elm to add a modern touch to Gracie Mansion, while still preserving its history under the guidance of the Conservancy.
Can you visit Gracie Mansion?
Gracie Mansion’s two main floors are open to the public, and the property also houses a small museum. So, if you’re visiting New York City, or maybe you’ve lived there your whole life but didn’t know about Gracie Mansion, be sure to plan a future visit.
General Tours of the estate take place on most Wednesdays at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm.
General admission is $7 for adults, $4 for seniors, while students are admitted free of charge. There are also Tea Tours available for groups of 25-50 people, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These tours cost $25 per person and include a selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and teacakes.
The Gracie Mansion Conservancy strives to educate the public on the historical significance of the property. To this end, School Tours are also held Tuesdays and Thursdays, catering to local school students, particularly those studying in New York State’s 7th grade social studies curriculum. School Tours are free of charge.
If you’re planning a visit to Gracie Mansion or want to support the Conservancy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 311 for more information.
Frequently asked questions
Gracie Mansion was built in 1799 and is located in Carl Schurz Park, at East End Avenue and 88th Street in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood. The Mansion overlooks Hell Gate channel, where the East River, the Harlem River, and the Long Island Sound intersect.
Gracie Mansion has been the official residence of the Mayor of New York City since 1942. Various NYC mayors have called Gracie Mansion home, including Robert F. Wagner, Edward Koch, Rudolph Giuliani, Bill de Blasio, and Eric Adams. Michael Bloomberg was the first NYC mayor to not reside at Gracie Mansion.
Gracie Mansion was originally built in 1799 by Archibald Gracie, a Scotland-born magnate, Army officer, and American businessman. He built the mansion and used it as his family home until 1823, when he sold it to pay off debts. But the property retained his name.
Yes, Gracie Mansion can be visited by the public, although some rooms are off-limits to the general audience. General Tours, School Tours, and Tea Tours can be scheduled by emailing email@example.com.
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