New York City Guide

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Gracie Mansion

Situated on East End Avenue at 88th Street, Gracie Mansion, is the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York, it is approached via its own gatehouse and driveway to its elevated position in the northern section of Carl Schurz Park, overlooking a part of the East River known as "Hellgate" the name coming from a Dutch word meaning beautiful view. The main part of the building was built in 1799 for Archibald Gracie, a wealthy shipping magnate. Since then the building has been a Department of Parks service structure, an ice cream parlour, and then in 1924 became the home for the first Museum of the City of New York. In 1936 it became a restored house museum.

Due to a demand to host an ever increasing number of public functions, Mayor Robert F. Wagner and his First Lady, Susan E Wagner, initiated plans for an additional wing which was to include a grand ballroom and two additional reception rooms. Mrs Wagner died in 1964 and the new wing, completed in 1966, was named in her memory.Time took its toll on the Mansion, so in 1981 Mayor Edward Koch instigated a major conservation project to restore the building to its former glory.

Interior architectural features and ornaments such as mantles and moulding's were restored, heating and electrical systems were modernised, some sections of the house were rebuilt, and the main rooms were decorated in such a way as to fit its historical period.

The main floor is furnished with a selection of art and antiques created by New York cabinet makers, painters and sculptors. Several pieces in the collection had originally belonged to the Gracie family. At the centre of the marble entrance hall floor, is a painted compass representing the maritime connections that the Gracie fortune was built upon.

Mayor Edward I. Koch established the Gracie Mansion Conservancy in 1981 to preserve and enhance the house, as well as to promote Gracie Mansion as a centre of social, political and artistic activity. The non profit Gracie Mansion Conservancy continues to this day with the intension of promoting and maintaining this historic site and its collection for the benefit of the people of New York.

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