New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Gracie Mansion


Archibald Gracie


Carl Schurz Park above Hell Gate (East End Ave. at 88th St.)








Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion stands in Carl Schurz Park above Hell Gate, a roaring stretch of water where the Harlem and East Rivers meet. The 18th-century house, built by a man who made and lost his fortune at sea, is now the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York.

The Dutch West India Company deeded the land in 1646 to Sybout Claessen, who dubbed the jutting riverbank "Horn's Hook" in honor of his native village of Hoorn in Holland. The first house on the site was built around 1770 by Jacob Walton, a merchant and British Loyalist. Walton's house was seized by American rebels and all but destroyed. Archibald Gracie, a Scottish shipping magnate, bought the property in 1798 and built the mansion the following year; an addition was built in 1809. It remained his country retreat through 1823.

The Federal-style mansion is notable for its three-sided porch and for the trellis railings that sweep around the house at the second-story and attic levels. Gracie, a prominent member of New York society, staged elegant parties that attracted Louis Philippe, later King of France; President Josiah Adams; Alexander Hamilton; Washington Irving; and Rufus King, ambassador to Britain. But Gracie never recovered from major losses due to the embargoes that preceeded the War of 1812. He had to dissolve his firm and liquidate his assets in 1823. Six years later he died.

The Foulke and Wheaton families owned the mansion over the next 60 years, a period that saw the nearby farmland yield to urban development. In the late 1880s, a sea wall and promenade were built along Hell Gate. The property was then condemned and seized by the City in 1896.

Early in this century, the house was used for children's carpentry and home economics classes, as well as for an ice-cream parlor. Gracie Mansion opened as the first Museum of the City of New York in 1924, and as a restored house museum in 1936.

Fiorello LaGuardia made it the official Mayor's residence six years later. A west wing for receptions was completed in 1966 under the guidance of Mayor Robert F. Wagner's wife, Susan.

The House, restored in 1984 and 2002 through gifts to the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, has been transformed into the "People's House" with increased accessibility to the public ans to city agencies. Gracie Mansion is now decorated to reflect the rich and varied history of New York City.

Managed by the Gracie Mansion Conservancy.

The property had its beginnings as a farm in 1646, with only modest structures standing on the site for more than a century. Shortly after Jacob Walton, a wealthy Flatbush merchant, purchased the property and built a substantial house with a beautiful view of Hell Gate, General Washington commandeered the site for its strategic position. He built a fort here to guard the waterways.

In September of 1776, the British destroyed both the ramparts and the house. Finally, in 1799, Archibald Gracie built the main section of what is now called Gracie Mansion.

Since that time the house has evolved from stately mansion, to a Dept. of Parks service structure, to the home of the Museum of the City of New York, and in 1942 became the first official residence of the Mayor. Robert F. Wagner had the privilege of being the first to reside here, and his wife, Susan, initiated plans to add another wing. The Wagner Wing was completed in 1966, two years after her death.

In 1981, Ed Koch established the Gracie Mansion Conservancy to improve and maintain the beautiful property as a historic landmark, and the tradition has continued to this day.

For individuals, Guided Public Tours are given on a regular basis. Guided tours for groups, including New York City (only) School Groups can also be arranged. The building has been beautifully restored, and decorated with period furnishings. 

Some of the most influential people in the world have dined here and visited the Mayor. The place has a lot of history, giving a tour much educational value.

In 1799, a prosperous New York merchant named Archibald Gracie built a country house overlooking a bend in the East River, five miles north of the City. Financial failure forced Gracie to sell his house to Joseph Foulke in 1823, and in 1857, the house came into the possession of Noah Wheaton. The City of New York appropriated the estate in 1896, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into the newly-formed Carl Schurz Park.

After decades of use as a concession stand and restrooms for the park, Gracie Mansion was restored and became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When it moved to a larger building, Gracie Mansion became a historic house museum run by the Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate it as the official residence of the Mayor, and in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in.

The house was enlarged in 1966 with the addition of the Susan E. Wagner Wing, which includes a grand ballroom and two intimate reception rooms. The Gracie Mansion Conservancy was established in 1981, and under its guidance, the first major restoration was undertaken between 1981 and 1984.

In 2002, the interior and exterior were again restored, and the house was transformed into the "People's House" with increased accessibility to the public and to City agencies. It will also be used to accommodate visiting officials and dignitaries, such as former guests First Lady Rosalynn Carter and President Nelson Mandela.

The Gracie Mansion Conservancy is a private not-for-profit corporation established in 1981 to preserve, maintain and enhance Gracie Mansion - one of the oldest surviving wood structures in Manhattan and a member of The Historic House Trust. The Conservancy's mission is to raise funds to restore the historic structure and acquire furnishings that illustrate the rich history of New York; improve the surrounding landscape and gardens; and provide educational services, including publications and tours.

For more information on tours, to volunteer or to help support the conservancy's activities, please call 212-570-4751.

Hours: Public tours are given on Wednesdays only, from March to mid-November, at 10 & 11am and 1 & 2pm. School group tours Thursdays, from September to mid-November and from March to June, at 10am and 11am.

Adults                   $3.00
Senior Citizens      $2.00 Children and Students FREE.
School Group tours are FREE (New York City Schools Only).

Are required for all tours, including family tours. At least 3 weeks is suggested. Groups should reserve at least 10 weeks ahead.

Lunch: Local restaurants.

Handicapped: Accessible. Call for more details.

Directions: East End Ave. at 88th St.