After the final ballot has been counted in next month’s election, New York City will have a new mayor for the first time since 2002. Whoever wins will get the keys to the city and to one of the most valuable homes in New York — Gracie Mansion, the official mayor’s residence at East End Avenue and 88th Street.
Here are some facts about this historic building:
A different building on approximately the same site was commandeered by George Washington during the American Revolutionary War, as it strategically overlooked Hell Gate. That building was called Belview Mansion and was the country residence of Jacob Walton, a New York merchant. The British destroyed this house during that war.
Archibald Gracie then built another building (after paying $5,625 for the 11 acres plot of land), what is now known as Gracie Mansion, on the site in 1799, and used it as a country home until 1823, when he had to sell it to pay debts.
Other people lived in the house until 1896, when the municipal government seized it and made its grounds part of Carl Schurz Park. It served various functions as part of that park (at various times it housed public restrooms, an ice-cream stand, and classrooms) until 1924. From 1924 until 1936 it housed the Museum of the City of New York, and from 1936 until 1942 it was shown as a historical house.
In 1942, Robert Moses convinced Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia to appropriate the house as a mayoral residence. Its main two floors are open to the public on a limited basis for guided tours, and serve as a small museum.
Some estimates put the current price tag of Gracie Mansion at $200 million, if it were to sell on the open market today.
Nine New York majors have resided at Gracie since 1942. Our current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been the only one so far who decided to live at his Upper East Side home during his tenure instead.