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Visitors Wait Hours in the Cold for Peek Inside Gracie Mansion

By Dana Varinsky | January 5, 2014 6:53pm | Updated on January 6, 2014 9:04am
 De Blasio supporters waited outside for two to three hours Sunday afternoon for a chance to see inside Gracie Mansion and shake the new mayor's hand.
Gracie Mansion Open House
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Visitors waited hours in the cold for a peek inside Gracie Mansion on Sunday after incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio invited the public for a tour of his new digs — but some of the guests said the long, chilly wait for the event was a far cry from what was billed.

Zakiya Coombs, 16, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, waited two and a half hours in line for a tour of the 215-year-old Upper East Side manse on the banks of the East River at 88th Street, which has been the official mayoral residence since 1942.

The de Blasios will be the first family to occupy the house since Rudy Giuliani’s family left in 2000. Mayor Michael Bloomberg opted to stay in his Upper East Side townhouse and only used Gracie Mansion for receptions and other events.

But the teen said she felt a little let down when she got inside and only got to see three first-floor rooms — a foyer, a ballroom, and finally, a small sitting room with a fireplace where visitors could shake hands take a photo with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We were waiting for so long. I thought we were actually going to go on a tour," said Coombs, who was among the estimated 2,000 New Yorkers who waited in a long line that wound down along the East River and alongside the yellow mansion. 

“I was a little pissed,” said Marc Klein, 34, who traveled to the Upper East Side from Brooklyn hoping for a tour. “It would have been nice to see the whole entire house.”

Lavelda Davis, who came from Queens for the open house, said she was expecting to learn more about the interior. "I wish they had more people to tell you what you're looking at in the rooms," she said. "They said tour, so that means you tell me what we're looking at."

The de Blasio family announced last month that they would move into Gracie Mansion from their Park Slope home, following several weeks of deliberation

“Today thousands of people are coming here,” de Blasio said on Sunday while posing with visitors. “They’re getting a chance to see what their house looks like, and we’re so happy to welcome them.”

Despite the long wait and the cold, however, some visitors said they appreciated the chance to see their mayor’s new digs.

“I think it’s very commendable that de Blasio on his first days in office is making himself available to as many New Yorkers as possible,” said Daniel Gallant, 37, after he exited the house. He added, “I wish it was warmer, but he can’t affect the weather.”

Ilana Spitalnick, 24, of Murray Hill, also said she was grateful for the chance to be inside the mansion despite the wait.  “It’s nice to actually see him as a real person, I think that’s the main draw,” she said.

But Greg Broncato, who pulled his son away from watching football playoffs to attend the open house, said he will feel glad they came to meet the mayor as soon as he warms up from the long wait.

"Ten years from now it will be worth it," he said.