Gracie Mansion is one of New York City’s great historic houses, perched above the East River reminding New Yorkers of the bucolic landscape Manhattan once was. The yellow Colonial-era mansion was built as a country home by a prosperous New York merchant named Archibald Gracie in 1799. It wasn’t until 1942, after the house served as a concession stand and the first location of the Museum of the City of New York, that the first New York City Mayor moved in.
Fiorello LaGuardia was the first mayor to settle into Gracie Mansion and since then, every mayor except Bloomberg has called “The People’s House” home. This spring, Gracie Mansion is opening its doors to Untapped New York Insiders to let us have a glimpse of life inside. The tours will be led by a Gracie Mansion docent, who also happens to be an Untapped New York Insider! Guests will learn about the history of the house and visit interior spaces such as the dining room, ballroom, various parlors, the library, and more!
In addition to this access, Insiders will also get to see a new exhibition, Catalyst: Art and Social Justice, curated by New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray. The exhibition showcases New York artists, activists and activist movements since 1965, “celebrating the power of art to spark change and spur progress.” McCray tells the New York Times that when she and Mayor Bill de Blasio first moved into Gracie Mansion, they were struck by the all the portraits hanging inside. She said to the Times she wondered, “‘Where are we? How do we fit in here? Where are the people we know? Where are the people of our city and what do we need to do to really be the people’s house?'”
With over 80 works and more than 50 artists represented, you’ll find a diverse range of medium in Catalyst: Art and Social Justice from photography to abstract painting to graphic art to portraits and sculpture. There is a piece by Devra Freelander, the artist killed by a cement truck last summer while biking in Brooklyn, that shows an iPhone that was frozen in ice and encased in acrylic. There are photographs by Gordon Parks, who documented both the plight and successes of African Americans in the mid to late 20th century, as well as newer images of New Yorkers by Martine Fougeron and Naima Green.
Michael Appleton, Mayor’s Office
From Catalyst: Art and Social Justice exhibition. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.
Join us on March 11th and April 1st at 11:30 AM for these special behind-the-scenes tours for Untapped New York Insiders. If you aren’t a member yet, join us today! Registration for both tours opens at noon today.
Next, check out our Top 10 Secrets of Gracie Mansion.