Architect: Attributed to Ezra Weeks
Location: East End Avenue at 88th Street
Gracie’s life as the mayor’s house started with Fiorello La Guardia, some 140 years after it was built. Robert Moses was taken with the idea of an official mayoral residence, and suggested the Schwab mansion (1905), a French château even bigger than Frick’s (1914) or Carnegie’s (1903) Manhattan homes. La Guardia exploded. “What, me in THAT?” (His response probably doomed it. Utterly unsellable, it was demolished in 1948.) He resisted Archibald Gracie’s mansion, too; nonetheless, it was a good fit. It could never be mistaken for a house of the common man, but it bears so little resemblance to how the rich build their mansions today that it’s hard to think of it as some forbidding thing, a fortress aloof from the riff-raff. (Even with the brick wall.)
Ed Koch loved the place, even living there in the middle of a three-year renovation. I can’t source where I read this, but he would sometimes stand on the lawn, waving at the tourists on the Circle Line cruises. David Dinkins got caught up in an inane controversy when he ordered a period headboard for his bedroom. It was rumored Rudy Giuliani had to leave it when he was palling around with girlfriend Judith Nathan in their St. Regis “love nest”. Michael Bloomberg prefers his East 79th Street townhouse. Dick.