Gracie Mansion is the traditional official residence of the New York City mayor and can be visited on a tour (current mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not reside here).
Long before Archibald Gracie built his famous mansion on the tract of land overlooking Hell's Gate (where the East River, Harlem River and Long Island Sound converge), General George Washington recognized the site for its military value during the American Revolution (1775–83). Washington had a fort built on the site with cannon facing the water. The fort and an adjacent residence were eventually destroyed by British bombardment.
Gracie, a Scottish immigrant who became one of the city's richest men, built his handsome frame house in 1799. The two-story mansion featured wooden trellis roof rails and a wraparound porch. This was the family's country home because at that time the city was still several miles south. Gracie staged elegant parties here attended by Alexander Hamilton and James Fenimore Cooper, among others. Gracie sold the property in 1823.
In 1896 the city appropriated the house and its 11 acres, which became the nucleus of the new East End Park. In 1920 civic groups, recognizing the site's historic importance, lobbied to have it restored. From 1923 to 1932 it was home to the Museum of the City of New York. In 1942 Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced authorities to make it the mayor's official residence and so has it remained to this day. Fiorello H. La Guardia was the first mayoral resident. When the need for space grew, architect Mott B. Schmidt was retained to design an addition, which he created to reflect the character of the original Federal-style mansion. The Gracie Mansion Conservancy was established in 1981. Under its guidance the building undergoes regular restoration and maintenance.
Click here for A Visit to Gracie Mansion, the People’s House, a resource guide for teachers, students and all visitors to Gracie Mansion.