2. Gracie Mansion became the mayoral residence for “national security” reasons

Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia
Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia giving a speech. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

In 1942, famous Parks Commissioner Robert Moses vehemently pushed city authorities to make this historic house the official residence of Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia. The celebrated Mayor, however, had no interest in living there. Moses eventually convinced him to move into the residence for “national security” reasons.

At the time, the United States had recently entered World War II, and Moses thought it would be safer and easier to evacuate the mayor from Gracie in the case of an attack, given its location by the water on the east side. Many buildings in Manhattan went dark including the original Penn Station which blacked out all of its windows. Convinced to move by Moses, La Guardia moved into the mansion as the first Mayor of New York City to reside in Gracie Mansion. He was so enamored with the house that he nicknamed it the “Little White House.”