Gracie Mansion in NYC History

Gracie Mansion in New York City History

1711-Present


  • 1711-1762 - The slave market in New York City is in operation at the foot of Wall Street, and is America's second-largest slave market. The peak of slavery in New York City was 1746, when approximately one in five New Yorkers were African or African-American slaves. Today, a plaque commemorates the site in the Financial District, honoring the suffering and the contributions of those who passed through the Wall Street slave market.

  • 1755 - Archibald Gracie is born on June 25 in Dumfries, Scotland. He is destined for a career in the West Indies shipping trade – and to be the first occupant of Gracie Mansion.


  • 1775 - The first battles of the Revolutionary War are waged at Lexington and Concord.

  • 1782 - On November 30, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and John Adams sign preliminary articles of peace with Britain, and the British Army and Loyalists are evacuated from the former colonies. A definitive treaty is signed on September 3, 1783.

  • 1784 - Chinese merchants launch trade with a newly-independent New York from the port city of Canton (modern- day Guangzhou). Imported porcelain becomes a prized household staple across the city - many of these original pieces are on display at Gracie Mansion.
  • 1784 - Archibald Gracie sails to America with a cargo of goods, using the proceedings of selling those goods to invest in a mercantile company in New York City. He eventually becomes a commissary merchant and ship owner, founding Archibald Gracie and Sons, East India Merchants. Gracie is a business partner of Alexander Hamilton’s and a friend of John Jay's.

  • 1789 - George Washington becomes the first President of the United States on the steps of Federal Hall on Wall Street. At the time, New York City is the nation's capital.


  • 1792 - The forerunner of the New York Stock Exchange opens at 22 Wall Street. The scene at this original site of American trade and finance is depicted in a reproduction of Tontine Coffee (Wall Street) painting from 1797, now on display at Gracie Mansion.
  • 1797 - Sagoyewatha, also known as Chief Red Jacket - the renowned Seneca tribe leader, champion of religious freedom and friend of George Washington - yields the last autonomous lands of the Iroquois First nation at the Treaty of Big Tree. The "peace tomahawk" that celebrated this treaty is now on display at Gracie Mansion, along with a portrait of Chief Red Jacket.
  • 1799 - Work begins on Gracie Mansion.

  • 1799 - The New York State Legislature passes the Gradual Emancipation Act, granting eventual freedom to children born of slaves with the signature of presiding Governor John Jay. A reproduction of the original legislation is now on view at Gracie Mansion.

  • 1799 - George Washington dies at Mount Vernon. As a result, many American citizens, especially those who are among the nation's founding generation, wonder if a strong unified federation can outlive its first president's demise.

  • 1801 - The Gracies move in to their new mansion overlooking the waters of Hell Gate and the future skyway of the Robert F. Kennedy/Triborough Bridge.


  • 1801 - Alexander Hamilton launches The New-York Evening Post, now the New York Post, after recruiting investors at an outing at Gracie Mansion. Archibald Gracie is his host and business partner.

  • 1803 - The cornerstone of City Hall is laid following the design of architects Joseph-François Mangin and John McComb, Jr., the same architect likely responsible for Gracie Mansion and Alexander Hamilton's nearby Grange homestead.

  • 1804 - Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. After the duel, a fatally wounded Hamilton is brought to Bayard House on Jane Street in the West Village and dies before the fireplace on July 12. That fireplace was installed in the Gracie Mansion ballroom in 1966.


  • 1812 - The War of 1812 begins against Great Britain. The resulting loss in ship trade nearly bankrupts Archibald Gracie, forcing him to sell Gracie Mansion in 1823 to his son-in-law Joseph Foulke.
  • 1818 - Frederick Douglass is born a slave in Maryland. He will go on to escape slavery and become the nation's greatest abolitionist, a social reformer, author, orator and statesman. New York provides a fulcrum for his advocacy of freedom for all. A print of Douglass's portrait hangs in Gracie Mansio's Peach Room.
  • 1829 - Archibald Gracie dies from the skin disease still known as St. Anthony's Fire.
  • 1845 - 1852 - The Great Irish Famine leads to the first major influx of Irish immigrants to New York, many of them hoping to escape poverty and forge better lives in a new world. The Irish immigrant population begins to unite in resistance against the social status quo that denies them the same protections of the law and any semblance of equality of opportunity. The movement uses broadsides like Exiles of Erin! - which is on display in Gracie Mansion's Library - to rally the community to action.
  • 1855 - To accommodate New York's growing number of immigrants, an official immigration center is established at Castle Garden, now located at Battery Park in Manhattan.
  • 1857 - Noah Wheaton, a successful real estate developer, purchases Gracie Mansion as his family's country retreat. He will be the last private owner of the house.
  • 1861 - Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina is fired upon, beginning the Civil War. New Yorkers are torn apart by their chosen allegiances and resulting class and racial tensions, often violently. In the Civil War Draft Riots, New York City's Democratic Party stalwarts will use the war to rouse the city white working class to violence against both the federal government and black New Yorkers, whose new freedom is distorted as a threat to white New Yorkers' livelihoods. At least 119 people die during that uprising alone.
  • 1864 - Archibald Gracie III, (who calls himself Archibald Gracie, Jr., his father's name) dies serving as a Confederate brigadier general.He was credited with saving General Lee's life during the Siege of Petersburg earlier in the War.

  • 1865 - The Civil War concludes and Lincoln abolishes slavery eight months later with the 13th Amendment.

  • 1892 - Ellis Island opens as the city's depot for immigrants.


  • 1896 - New York's municipal government acquires Gracie Mansion from private owners due to the non-payment of taxes, incorporating its 11 acres into East River Park and renaming it in 1910 for the German-American statesman Carl Schurz. For decades, the house serves a concession stand and restrooms for the Park.

  • 1912 - The RMS Titanic sinks. Colonel Archibald Gracie IV, an American writer, amateur historian, real estate investor and descendent of Archibald Gracie, survives the sinking by climbing aboard an overturned collapsible lifeboat. He dies eight months later from the lasting damage of hypothermia - the last survivor to leave the ship and first adult survivor to die.

  • 1917 - The United States enters World War I.

  • 1924-1936 - A restored Gracie Mansion becomes the first home of the newly-created Museum of the City of New York.


  • 1933 - Fiorello H. LaGuardia is elected as the 99th mayor of New York City.

  • 1934 - Robert Moses becomes Parks Commissioner for New York City.


  • 1936 - The Museum of the City of New York leaves Gracie Mansion and moves to its Colonial Revival home on Fifth Avenue. Gracie Mansion became one of the first historic house museums run by the Parks Department.
  • 1942 - The attack on Pearl Harbor brings the United States into World War II.
  • 1942 - Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and his family are the first First Family to move in to Gracie Mansion. Park Commissioner Robert Moses uses war time security as the catalytic imperative for Gracie to become the First Family's official residence, which he had always sought. Mayor La Guardia is so charmed by the home that he nicknames it the "Little White House."

  • 1945 - William O'Dwyer is elected as the 100th mayor of New York City. He initially resides in Gracie Mansion with his first wife Catherine - upon their divorce, his second wife Sloan moves in.

  • 1950 - Vincent R. Impelletteri becomes acting mayor upon the resignation of William O'Dwyer. He is elected the 101st mayor, the first since the consolidation of greater New York in 1898 to be elected without a major political party's ballot line. His election is viewed as a populist uprising against the political system. He moves into Gracie Mansion with wife Elizabeth.

  • 1964 - Mayor Robert F. Wagner initiates a plan for an addition to Gracie Mansion, a simple two-story wing unobtrusively attached to the main house. The addition is later named the Susan B. Wagner Wing, in memory of Mayor Wagner's wife, who died in Gracie Mansion from lung cancer during construction. New York architect Mott B. Schmidt is hired as lead architect, while Edward Coe Embury, F. Burrall Hoffman and Landmarks Commission architect John Barrington Bayley assist in the production and design of the building to reflect details from the original residence.


  • 1965 - John Lindsay is elected as the 103rd mayor of New York City and takes up residence in Gracie Mansion with his wife Mary and their children John Jr., Anne, Katharine and Margaret.

  • 1966: The iconic WPIX Channel 11 Yule Log – the first of its kind in the world – debuts as a three-hour program consisting of a 17-second filmed loop of the festively decorated fireplace at Gracie Mansion.

  • 1973 - Abraham Beame is elected as New York City's first Jewish mayor. He moves in to Gracie Mansion with his wife Mary.


  • 1977 - Ed Koch becomes the 105th mayor of New York City and takes up residence at Gracie Mansion.

  • 1981 - Mayor Koch and philanthropist Joan K. Davidson create the Gracie Mansion Conservancy as an ongoing public-private partnership dedicated to preserving, maintaining, enhancing and enliven Gracie Mansion. Inspired by a visit to the White House, Mayor Koch and the Conservancy also lead the first restoration of the house and open the home for its first public tours as the Mayor's residence.
  • 1989 - "Ghostbusters II" is released. In one scene of the film, the Ghostbusters visit the fictitious mayor at Gracie Mansion to inform him of the city's imminent takeover by ghosts – but the scene actually wasn’t shot at Gracie Mansion. Standing in for Gracie Mansion was Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

  • 1989 - David Dinkins is the first African American mayor of New York City, taking up residence in Gracie Mansion with his wife Joyce.


  • 1993 - Rudy Giuliani is elected as the 107th mayor of New York City. He, his wife Donna Hanover and their children Andrew and Caroline all move in to Gracie Mansion.

  • 1999 - The children's book, "The Ghost of Gracie Mansion", written by Susan Kohl and Ned Butterfield, is published. The book centers on the myth that the ghost of Elizabeth Wolcott-Gracie, daughter-in-law of Archibald Gracie, has haunted the house, since her death there in 1819. In the book, the Gracie children spot lurking figures in the hallways and objects disappearing.

  • 2001 - Michael Bloomberg is elected 108th mayor of New York City.


  • 2002 - A second major restoration of the interior and exterior of Gracie Mansion as "the People's House" is led by designer Jamie Drake. Mayor Bloomberg opts not to move in.

  • 2014 - Mayor Bill de Blasio is elected 109th mayor of New York City, the first Democrat to serve as mayor in 20 years. He and First Lady Chirlane McCray move into Gracie Mansion with their children Chiara and Dante -- the first residents of Gracie in 13 years.

  • 2014 - Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray host the first-ever Halloween celebration at Gracie Mansion.
  • 2015 - In honor of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy's 35th anniversary, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announce a new art installation at Gracie Mansion, titled "Windows on the City: Looking Out at Gracie's New York," which consists of previously and newly acquired works. All of the additional pieces come from the original Gracie Mansion period and were selected to create a more historically accurate picture of life in New York City during the time of Gracie Mansion's construction. The installation also includes a number of historical items, including The Gradual Emancipation Act.
  • 2016 - The Gracie Mansion Conservancy begins preparations for the upcoming 75th anniversary of Gracie Mansion assuming the role as the official mayoral residence.