6. Selling Gracie Mansion
On April Fools Day in 1995, Our Town, an East Side weekly, decided to do a prank piece in which they discuss the city’s official Mayor residence, Gracie Mansion, being put up for sale, among many other famous New York City landmarks. The prank report explained that Gracie will “likely be sold to a developer who will tear down the landmark 1789 mansion and built luxury waterfront condos.”
The idea of the prank referred to Mayor Giuliani‘s plan to sell off city-owned properties to close the billion dollar budget gap the city suffered. The piece quoted him and even quoted Donald Trump, a possible developer, saying “It would be the jewel in my crown.” Many citizens believed the article and called both Our Town and City Hall with protests. While there were many hints, including the dateline and author, everybody had a hard time believing it was all a hoax.
The piece even went into further, more absurd details saying that Central Park, Yankee Stadium and even the subway system were on the chopping block. Our Town also explained the city was ready to use eminent domain to seize churches and synagogues that would also eventually be sold. An accompanying for-sale list was published calling out even more landmark areas including “the Staten Island Ferry, Coney Island, all the libraries, Rikers Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, all the housing projects – everything.”
The idea of this is rather terrifying and outrageous, but it was, after all (and thank God) only a prank.