A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 18, 2016
People’s House (Gracie Mansion)

Manhattan’s Gracie Mansion, built in 1799, has been the mayor’s official residence since Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia moved there in 1942. Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to live there, but helped to renovate it and often held public functions there. The Bloomberg administration referred to Gracie Mansion as the “People’s House” by at least 2002.

Gracie Mansion has also been called the “Little White House.”


NYC.gov—Gracie Mansion: The People’s House
A Brief History of Gracie Mansion
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 hardship forced Gracie to sell his house to Joseph Foulke in 1823, and, in 1857, Noah Wheaton purchased the property. In 1896, the City of New York appropriated the estate due to non-payment of taxes, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into East River Park, renamed in 1910 for the German-American statesman, Carl Schurz.

After decades of use as a concession stand and as restrooms for the park, Gracie Mansion was restored and became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When the museum moved to its larger permanent building on Fifth Avenue on January 11, 1932, Gracie Mansion became a historic house museum run by the Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses finally convinced city authorities to designate the house as the official residence of the Mayor and, in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in as the First Mayor of New York City to reside at Gracie.

Its tradition as New York’s “Little White House” thus began, allowing it to serve as a place where history is made, not merely recorded.
(...)
In 2002, when newly-elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to remain in his nearby townhouse, Gracie’s interior and exterior were again abundantly restored and updated with the second floor residency transformed into house museum. This incarnation reinforced the Mansion’s role as the “Peoples House,” which set a standard for increased municipal and public access.

Wikipedia: Gracie Mansion
Archibald Gracie Mansion (commonly called Gracie Mansion) is the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York.[2] Built in 1799, it is located in Carl Schurz Park, at East End Avenue and 88th Street in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan. The mansion overlooks Hell Gate channel in the East River.
(...)
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.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

28 April 2002, Daily News (New York, NY), “Amazing Gracie Renewal in Works” by Joanne Wasserman, pg. 18:
Gracie Mansion is getting a face-lift and a new life.

The 203-year-old landmark, already getting a fresh coat of paint on the outside, will undergo a room-by-room restoration starting this summer.
(...)
With Bloomberg opting not to live at Gracie, city officials want to make it more available to the public by expanding existing tours and opening up parts of the private quarters where mayors have lived.

“One of our priorities is to make this the people’s house,” said Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, who is supervising the restoration. “Especially when nobody is living there. We want to bring more school groups in. We want to bring more tourists.”

New York (NY) Times
With Mayor Out, the People Move In; New York Finds Many Uses for Gracie Mansion
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER JUNE 11, 2004
Of the many unusual moves that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made right after taking office, one of the most notable was his choice to remain in his Upper East Side townhouse rather than move into Gracie Mansion, home to every mayor since Fiorello H. La Guardia. Instead, Mr. Bloomberg said the historic mansion would be used as ‘’the people’s house.’’

It really is. Over the last two years, Gracie Mansion has become a bustling retreat for scores of municipal workers, celebrators, schoolchildren and elected officials; the occasional bed and breakfast for traveling dignitaries, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and a quiet hideaway where city business can be conducted away from the prying eyes of City Hall.

Curbed—New York
How Gracie Mansion Became New York’s ‘Little White House’
Friday, January 3, 2014, by Curbed Staff (James Nevius)
On January 5, a few lucky ticket holders will be able to check out Gracie Mansion, the digs of the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio’s decision to move his family into Gracie Mansion has been criticized by, among others, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who didn’t live there but raised significant funds (allegedly $7 million of it his own) to renovate the mansion. “If a mayor lives there,” Bloomberg said during the campaign, “then what they’re doing is they’re costing this city a lot of money and depriving the rest of the city of one of the great facilities any city has.”

Bloomberg’s administration has taken pains to re-brand the mansion as the “People’s House,” implying greater public access and a criticism of any future mayor who chooses to live there. But Bloomberg does have a point: in the home’s long history, its role as the mayoral residence is relatively new. In fact, de Blasio will be only the tenth mayor to live there; the first was Fiorello La Guardia, who took up residence in May 1942. And he had to be practically dragged into the place.

Daily News (New York, NY)
New Yorkers line up in cold to see Gracie Mansion at Mayor de Blasio’s open house
‘Gracie Mansion is the people’s house.’ Even though the de Blasio family have yet to move into the Yorkville mansion, the Mayor wanted to give the public a chance to see his new home.

BY ERIN DURKIN Monday, January 6, 2014, 1:39 AM
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But he said he wanted to give the public a chance to get a glimpse as one of his first orders of business. “Gracie Mansion is the people’s house.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Thursday, February 18, 2016 • Permalink