Mayor Bloomberg: Mayors shouldn't live in Gracie Mansion
Occupy Gracie Mansion? Not if you're the next Hizzoner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
While the prestigious city-owned pad - at East End Avenue and 88th Street - has been the official mayoral digs for seven decades, Bloomberg told reporters that his successor should follow his cue and resist moving in.
"It's a great house for everyone, and not just one family," said Bloomberg, adding that "if a mayor's family is living [there], a good half of it is just not available. You don't have the same kind of access for events."
The 213-year-old mansion hosts tour groups, dignitaries, meetings and parties, and with a family residing in the four-bedroom home, that could force the city to pay for alternate venues, Bloomberg argued.
"If a mayor lives there, then what they're doing is costing this city a lot of money," he said.
Since Bloomberg took office, the city has steadily cut back on the number of staffers at the mansion - from 32 in fiscal year 2000 (when Rudy Giuliani was mayor) to 10 full-time staffers at present. City spending for the mansion has dropped more than 43% over roughly the same period.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg has continued to live in his East 79th Street town house. His gal pal, Diana Taylor, has tried unsuccessfully to convince him to sleep over in Gracie Mansion, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. But according to a spokesman, he never has, although he's there "several times a week."
Bloomberg's decision to shun Gracie Mansion is uncommon for a mayor. Since Fiorello La Guardia in 1942, every city mayor has lived there at some point, according to various reports. Giuliani called it home until his public split from second wife Donna Hanover.
Former Mayor Ed Koch defended the use of Gracie Mansion as a mayoral homestead Tuesday.
"I believe that asking the mayor not to live there is like asking the president not to live at the White House," Koch told amNewYork.
"I think there's something to tradition," he added. "The tradition now is Gracie Mansion - one of the loveliest and oldest homes in New York City - will be occupied by the mayor, who it's officially for."
While a number of potential 2013 mayoral candidates wouldn't comment about living there, declared Democratic candidates Tom Allon and Bill Thompson both said they would.
Allon pointed out that even if the mayor doesn't reside at Gracie Mansion, taxpayer dollars would "still be spent ferrying the mayor and [his or her security] detail around the city" in publicly funded cars.
Thompson said Bloomberg's remarks "fly in the face" of all the former mayors who've called Gracie home.
Gracie Mansion Fun Facts
Year Built: 1799
History: Built by the Scottish-born shipping magnate Archibald Gracie as a personal country house. In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg restored the mansion and transformed it into the "People's House."
In the movies: Featured in "Ghostbusters II" and "City Hall."
Architectural details: In the library, there are panes scratched with the names Millie, Caroline and Mom. "Millie" is thought to be Gracie's granddaughter, while "Caroline" is a souvenir from Caroline Giuliani and her mother, Donna Hanover.
Famous guests: First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela
Number of visitors in 2011: More than 40,000